On June 16, 2021, the local “Perła Pękowic” Association from Zielonki Commune in the Malopolska Region (POLAND) received a grant of 221,940 PLN (over 50.000 euro) for the project entitled “Digital village, cheerful village, or how to make Polish villages smart and help people live happier” (see https://wzielonkach.pl/ for the details). The project is implemented as a public task under the NOWEFIO (NEW FIO) program – NOWEFIO 2021 competition – Priority 2: Civic organizations for the common good, organized by the National Institute of Freedom – Center for the Development of Civil Society. The project activities are carried out throughout the entire Zielonki Commune in 2021-2023.

In Poland, only 444 projects under this round of competition received grants, while as many as 2,106 projects were submitted. It has been a great success for our local activists, since it is our second consecutive project that won funding from the FIO program (the previous was the “Eco-society. Everything you wanted to know about being eco but were afraid to ask” with the value of nearly PLN 160,000.00, implemented in 2019-2020; see https://wzielonkach.pl/ for the details).

The main goal of our project is to involve residents and NGOs in the Zielonki Commune in activities aimed at building intelligent solutions through acquiring knowledge, carrying out strategic activities, and implementing Smart Villages (SV) development concepts in four villages. This new style of development will also contribute to the improvement of the quality of life in the commune through education, integration and activities undertaken as part of the implementation of the SV concept. It will increase the innovative potential of the project participants that will have an impact on local development in the years to come.

Below we present a summary of activities planned under the project for the coming years. Some of them target specific groups of recipients (e.g. students from schools in the Zielonki Commune), while others are dedicated to all residents. Information on the activities is also presented on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/perlapekowic; the website www.wzielonkach.pl, as well as in the Local News of the Zielonki Commune.

Information and education activities will stimulate residents’ interest in this socially important and future-oriented topic. They include:

  • carrying out 12 SV workshops dedicated to commune’s residents,
  • carrying out 2 workshops for representatives of NGOs from Zielonki Commune,
  • developing an electronic version of the promotional and information material on SV,
  • organizing a competition for a vision of local development based on the SV concept – “Smart ViIlages today and tomorrow”,
  • developing an electronic version of selected competition works,
  • creating an Internet platform.

The main goal of the activities is to use the acquired knowledge, involve residents and institutions in the development of the local community and ease integration between generations as well as indigenous and immigrant inhabitants of the commune. At the implementation stage of the project, apart from meeting the general and specific objectives of the project, tools and documents will be developed to serve the residents and stakeholders of the Commune for the next few years. At the same time, these activities will enable further development of the local community thanks to the gained competence and organizational preparation to join the implementation of activities in the EU 2021-2027 financial perspective.

Activities include:

  • conducting 8 consultation and diagnostic workshops,
  • carrying out a study to diagnose the needs of the inhabitants of 4 villages,
  • elaborating 4 development strategies for village councils in the Zielonki Commune,
  • implementing 4 solutions that fit into the SV development strategies.

An important aspect of designing the project’s intervention logic was the willingness to implement activities that would enable sustainable development of our community. Therefore, the Association and other stakeholders in the community will be able to use the outcomes of the planned activities in further work. All publications developed as part of the implementation of subsequent project tasks will serve as a database of knowledge and experience on developing the SV strategy.

It should be emphasized that our project is unique on a national scale, because previous actions related to the SV concept development were individual, scattered initiatives of various entities and not a planned process.