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Our journey began from observing Interwencja Pasażerska campaign with our own eyes. The campaign invited passengers to take a ride at estimated hours during three days in a row, where volunteers would explain methods of Bystander Intervention or simply - possible ways of behavior when they witness violence in public transport. It was not only useful to see the ways of turning attention to the issues of violence against foreigners in public transport, but also to interact with the outside world. The gains of the campaign include attention and openness to talk from random passengers. One memorable detail is Hanna Arendt’s quote at the tram’s back window: “I was no longer of the opinion that one can simply be a bystander.” 

Quote of Hanna Arendt in the tram by the Passennger's Intervention

These days of tram rides together with the tech workshop from HIA Poland inspired us to make a chatbot for Facebook Messenger, which turned out to be more accessible than we thought. Chatbot we named ‘Tramhero' calls for action and makes you believe that together we can make Warsaw a safer place for everyone. 

Our team shooting pictures for the poster campaign

 And the outcome of our photo session

Main observations are that whatever the campaign is you can always improve it, but it is important to focus. The amount of support and attention we got for our project from the staff and ally organizations was motivating. There are always obstacles of bureaucratic or financial character on the way, but if thinking in terms of opportunities and not from limitations - amazing things can happen. 

For instance, where would we have an opportunity to participate in the shooting of social campaign? In addition to developing a technology, we made a daring photo for the poster. Photo campaign featured not just models, but also activists as activist Krystyna Sroka, Feras Thadros from Ocalenie Foundation, and Anton Ambroziak, who writes for OKO Press. The idea was to use striking graphics and catchy slogans for the poster that has a QR code on it, so that it redirects users directly to our chatbot. 

Our poster in English

As the senior fellow we worked with Miłosz Lindner told us, you can always at least try to change something. Miłosz also shared with us a book “On Tyranny” by Timothy Snyder, which accurately covers the principles behind the campaign and our project to complement it: independent thinking and conscious cooperation to stop hostile attitudes. Our teamwork demonstrated that magic happens on the margins: margins of technology and creative thinking, activism and in-depth understanding of the issues, human rights protection and ways of communicating the message. 

Our team: Sasha Kovalenko, Iggy Hryniewiecz and Trey Wallace

To sum up, Humanity in Action Warsaw Fellowship gave us an opportunity to dream big and see that even small amount of coherent effort can result in the potential and actual impact. Combining what we knew before and what we learnt during the program — technical skills, beliefs and knowledge on human rights, graphic and creative skills. Voilà! The tool and the campaign for it are ready. Let’s think now: how you can be a Tramhero?

By Sasha Kovalenko, Ignacy Hryniewicz and Trey Wallace, participants of the 2018 Humanity In Action Warsaw Fellowship 


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