Usually people start associations or foundations because they want to start actively working. In our case we started actively working, then came the organization. Nobody planned on it to come into being. Especially not the initiator of this whole enterprise, a known writer and journalist – Beata Chomątowska,. One might say that the organization initiated as a website she started called Stacja Muranow, which was an additional project to a book she was working on about the district of Muranow – a monument built in remembrance of the former Jewish ghetto. The website started successively attracting more people interested in the topic. Together with The British Council we organized a workshop in the district, part of a worldwide initiation called Future City Game. It’s general concept is a two day panel where residents, city officials and activists analyze the strengths and weaknesses of a specific area, district, neighborhood or a city and inspect how it can be changed for the better. For Muranow the diagnose was clear: a district in the center of Warsaw full of greenery and great architecture but one that is sad, gray and lifeless. It would be great for it to be awakened. Therefore our workshops were held under the title Wake up Muranow. In the result five ideas emerged that could change the local vicinity. The British Council does not provide funds for the execution of such projects, on the assumption that they should be financed by NGO’s or local communities. The workshop participants were still eager to have their ideas materialize. But being just a group of Muranow enthusiasts, who met online, was not enough. So somebody came up with an idea to start an association.
The mere thought of formalities, filling out loads of documents, trips to the registration offices brought us goosebumps. But we succeeded. We overcame our fears and called in a founding meeting. Even before 2010, the year Stacja Muranow The Association for Social and Cultural Initiations was registered, we were able to accomplish two projects from the workshops – a picnic on Nalewki street and a book fair on Nowolipki street. A year later when the Downtown city office announced the Space for Culture program, offering NGO’s unused commercial space in Muranow, we applied immediately. We knew we wanted our own space to organize cultural events, that would function as a link between local residents and tourists, and what’s more, a space to promote Muranow. Some might have called us crazy – many ideas, no money. But it worked! We rented out over 100 meters of space at 13 Andersa Street in a building with a beautiful circular courtyard reminiscent of an Italian palace, called by the locals The Roundy,. We all chipped in to survive the first months and started renovations. The place functions till this day. We organize meetings with authors, exhibitions, discussion panels, workshops, along with a cafe for all our guests. In the meantime we’ve gained a major sponsor – The Warsaw Metro. We learned how to write grant applications and started to acquire them. For example thanks to them we made the first murals in Muranow.
The book “Stacja Muranow” is the project that started it all. Published by ‘Czarne’ publishing house in 2012.