Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Looking at your eyes: Invisible people project

by Łukasz Posłuszny, Joel Vargas- HIA Fellows 2014

Who are we? Short introduction

Our tiny, yet very productive and open-minded group consisted of Jarmiła, Joel and Łukasz: the activist, artist, and scholar; two Poles, one U.S citizen; two males, one female; three unique characters in one group.

When we formed our cooperative, we had heads full of ideas, but we lacked time to run them all, so we agreed to produce a series of info-graphics, and an artistic movie, a visual poem. We stuck to that idea, and were very eager to skip the regular course of the day, and start working on our assignment. We, of course differ from each other significantly, but the odd mixture of our natures worked well enough to critically pursue our project.

Why did we choose to work on issue of migration?

UNHCR research conducted at the end of 2013 indicted that there were 45 million people in the world who, because of persecution or war were forced to leave their homes. Moreover, 62% of Europeans think that discrimination based on ethnicity is widespread. The aforementioned is why we found the situation of migrants and refugees critically important. Additionally, all of us had some familiarity with the subject despite coming from different contexts. Thus, we decided to focus on hate speech towards this group. We defined hate speech as all kinds of expression that attacks a person or a group on basis of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

Considering the Polish context in 2013, the biggest group applying for refugee status in Poland were citizens from Russia (mostly Chechens), followed by Georgians, Armenians, Kazakhs, Syrians, and Afghans. Research made by TNS OBOP by request from UNHCR indicates that 40% of Polish refugees struggle with some kind of homelessness or apartment exclusion. The same publication says that in all refugee camps in Poland, 50% of children do not attend school. Regarding the teenage population, the figures are much worse, as none make it to high school.

The Polish population has a relatively positive, yet hypocritical attitude towards refugees. 72% Poles think Poland should accept refugees. On the contrary, more than 60% of Poles would not like to live in migrant neighborhoods or send their children to school with migrants.

What is our project about?

The goal of this project is to be informative and to sensitize the neutral majority regarding the harsh conditions of everyday life for migrants. After many long discussions, we decided to produce a series of three info-graphics and a short film. The produced work can be seen either on our tumlbr site ( or facebook page (

The info-graphics depict important issues and statistics concerning migrants in Poland, most of which have been already mentioned above, and are aesthetically integrated with a photo of a person’s face. The face of the person is the biggest part of the graphic, which creates a strong emotional and human connection between the viewer, the image and statistic. Simultaneously a red line bisects the picture vertically into sharp and blurred sections. The proportion between sharp/blurry is dependent on the percentage mentioned in the statistic, which is at the bottom of the info-graphic. One can therefore see the face of a possible migrant, which is blurred, or disappearing in front of one’s very own eyes. Thus, the concept serves as a metaphor, which should trigger feeling of disagreement, responsibility, and compassion that are supposed to be the first steps in changing attitudes towards migrants.

We thought at the beginning, to create info-graphics based on an image of a whole person walking or standing, with a similar concept in mind. However, eventually we withdrew from that idea because we realized that by doing that we keep migrants invisible by maintaining the distance between the majority of society and them. There is nothing more personal than a human face, especially eyes, which hold great emotion.

The other portion of the campaign was the creation of the Invisible People film, in which our group attempted to avoid the typical form adopted by many social campaign audio/visual PSAs. Thus, we focused on wanting to tell a genuine story, through a poetic and at times, very experimental film form. The narrative which one follows while watching, attempts to grasp the perspective of everyday life for migrants in Poland with relation to verbal and publicly written hate speech. Thus, the viewer listens to and sees the words of psychological abuse appearing and being heard throughout the cityscape. Later, the film transitions to a forest, which is often considered a symbol of diversity. Moreover, a shattered forest was used as a symbol following the holocaust to represent loss of life. However, further analyzing the aforementioned, forests consist of many and often very different types of trees and plants, and function as a shelter for a multitude of species, yet forests remain one organism. This is what society should be like. Its diversity should be a sign of its richness.

The ends and the beginnings

We encourage all of the readers of this entry to join our facebook profile, watch, and like our film. Even though the HIA program has finished, we keep monitoring our facebook page, and hope to remain active. Our film has been well received. Consequently, we have submitted it to a short film contest concerning topics of multiculturalism. Our group, although split, keep in touch, and think about more collaborations. Like us, and stay tuned!

Friday, 4 July 2014

Pull the Brake on Hate Speech!

by Mil Dranoff, HIA Fellows 2014

As the fellowship draws to a close, I’ve begun to reflect on the various pieces of the Humanity in Action puzzle and how they’ve come together over the course of the past month. Sitting in the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, I realize that I’ve learned so much over a relatively short amount of time; knowledge, excursions, and interactions all compressed into less than thirty days. Throughout the month, we explored many opportunities and faced many challenges, but in the end we were able to pull together to create something exciting and new.

At the onset of the fellowship, we were introduced to two distinct phases: input and output. In the first phase, we were absorbent sponges, taking in an incredible amount of information on Polish history, on specific minorities (namely Jews, LGBT, Roma, and refugees), and on the subject of hate speech in general. During the output phase, we were then put into groups of three and assigned to one of these minorities. Our task was simple, yet daunting: come up with a social campaign that addresses hate speech against one of the minority groups.

Referring back to the sponge metaphor, at the end of the input phase, I was completely saturated with information. I was glad to have some sort of formal channel towards which I could direct my attention, but the task itself seemed near impossible. How were we supposed to make a social impact in a week’s time? How were we supposed to do this when only one team member per group spoke Polish, when that was the language in which the campaign needed to be in order to have a maximal reach in Poland? Our fears and concerns were many, but then Faith Bosworth from Peng Collective in Berlin came to train us, and immediately I breathed a sigh of relief. With the help of Faith and Hannes (graphic designer), our task seemed more manageable and indeed we were able to put some of our ideas into action.

Our team consisted of three people: Arne Semsrott from Germany, Sylwia Wodzińska from Poland, and me, Mil Dranoff, from the United States. Assigned to the Roma community, we had various ideas of how to go about addressing the issue. We ultimately decided to design a website to raise awareness around the issue of hate speech against Roma. Among our other ideas were mock evictions to demonstrate how Roma are evicted from their homes, and language bookmarks to show the Polish word for something and the same word in a Roma language. Because the Roma community in Poland is perceived quite negatively by a majority of Poles, our goal was to combat these negative stereotypes by educating the Polish public that saying these words is not only hateful, but also may lead to hate crimes or other forms of violence.

Our website has some useful statistics about discrimination towards Roma in Poland and also offers ways to find out more information. Our design is entitled “Pull the Brake on Hate Speech Against Roma” and it appears on an image of an emergency brake. To compliment the website, we printed out stickers with the brake logo and were planning on putting them on buses and trams to raise awareness and send people to our website. The turning point in our process was when we realized that the fine for putting up these stickers on public transit is quite high. We decided to keep the theme of transportation the same, while putting them at entrances to cafes and other public message boards. While the campaign was specifically designed to go on public transit, the main idea is still present and we are hoping that the design will still be eye-catching enough to send people to our website.

I’ve learned a great deal over the course of this week about the creative and educational processes that go into making a campaign. In order to condense these thoughts, I made a list of the top five things I’ve learned/pieces of advice I’d give someone working on a similar project:

1. Get to know your team! Go out and get coffee, or walk around the rooftop terrace of a University, or wander around the city looking for a copy shop. Spend time together and it’ll be easier to work together.

2. List all of your ideas! No ideas are bad (but some are better). If you have them all written out, it gives everyone a chance to contribute. Consider the pros and cons of each idea and that will help you decide on which one to go with.

3. There will be moments when you or a team member or all of your team members feel demoralized. This is a good time for deep breaths and re-centering. Focus on the end goal and remember that you are in this for a reason.

4. Make priority lists! There may seem like there are a million things that need to get done but if you have it all written out in front of you, you’ll realize that some steps are unnecessary and it’ll feel great to cross off the things that you do get accomplished!

5. If you are going to use guerilla tactics, either be ready to pay a fine, or don’t use guerilla tactics.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

When Three Change-Agents Gather Together

by Nadiia Mykhalevych, HIA Fellow 2014

The input phase, the week of practice, brainstorming and ideas realization, has finished. This part of the program became for our team – me, Weronika and Jasmine – a time of challenges, learning and unforgettable moments. We are all from different countries – USA, Ukraine and Poland and this made our team work even more interesting in terms of experience and knowledge. So what did we manage to achieve during this time? What was good and what should be improved? How we are going to continue our activity in our home countries?

At the beginning of the output phase it was difficult to imagine how we would manage to do everything during such short period. Furthermore, we worried about how to enact our ideas within the prescribed timeline. Our topic “Migrants/refugees” was quite broad and we struggled to fully understand the complexities of each similar but distinct group. Establishing a core idea and project motif has been a continual challenge for us as we all had so many creative ideas. It also became difficult to determine our target group and the correct messaging that would be meaningful to them. We determined that the term “migrants” includes refugees, asylum seekers, and labor migrants so it was not an easy task to concentrate on one narrow topic. But after long discussions and consideration we decided to advocate for refugees rights by making a campaign focusing on eradicating hate speech against refugees and minorities in Poland, specifically on a social media platform.

But can a Facebook page or website really make a difference in catalyzing social change, especially when it comes to the refugee issue? The simple answer is “yes” and our team managed to prove it. Nowadays social media is a very important part of our everyday lives and there are thousands cases when the online campaigns or initiatives catalyzed social movements and changes. Very often, social media is the first place where people received their news and take stances on current debates and topics. The FreeRefugee team set an ambitious goal to launch the virus meme to make people think, be sensitive and react to the social problems relating to refugees in their countries.  Where does hate speech come from? Why is there so much hatred towards refugees? What steps should be taken to prevent hate speech and its manifestation into hate crimes? We were looking for our audience to think of their answers to these questions. Hate speech is often a result of ignorance and misunderstanding, and to get rid of it we should provoke talks, spread the knowledge and break stereotypes, which are the reason of hatred.

We decided to put a stress on the visual content of our website and facebook page, as we found it much more effective way to present such uneasy topic. The image is very powerful when accompanied with strong words. It makes people reflect and think over the things to which they were indifferent of neutral before.  Our facebook page got more than 300 likes and 4.6 views, which we think is a quite good result for 8 days. Furthermore, we managed to contact a few NGOs in Warsaw who are working on refugees’ issue. Among them was the NGO “Fundacja dla Somalii” which is coping with the refugees and asylum-seekers from Somali. We discovered how the organization for the refugee rights is working here in Warsaw, got a feedback on what we’ve already done and received inspiration to go ahead and do what we are doing.

Actually besides work, we had a big pleasure to spend time together: jokes, pizza time, photos, brainstorming, long off-topic conversations and everyday walks back to hostel. Even when I did not have any mood and motivation to work, after I met girls I got huge portion of inspiration to work even harder.  During our campaign we managed to create up to 10 posters with infographics on the hate speech and a series of posters called “IMAGINE”. One of the posters says “Imagine your child falls asleep to the sounds of bombs, not lullabies. What would you do?”  The message was that always when we want to judge somebody or say something bad about this person, we should step into his/her shoes. Only in such way we can see the problem from another perspective and at least begin to think and reflect on the issues.

Even though we had visually attractive infographics and images it was not that easy to reach the visibility. We tried to use different facebook groups/pages and spread the information about our initiative. Also on 20th of June there was the World Refugee Day. We decided to make a  campaign and designed a picture which people should have put as their profile picture and in such way raise the awareness about the refugees.

 As we all have different backgrounds and skills, it helped us to teach and learn from each other. Our team work gave us a change to share what we know and turn it to the practice. There are a lot of other ideas we wanted to implement but, actually it’s impossible to do everything for one week, so we can continue our activity at home. Now, with help of knowledge that we received while working together it would be much easier to realize our action projects.  We hope that our initiative will grow and page likes would be not just a simple click but actually an action which can change our society and world for better.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The Jewish Troll – A True Life Story

by Daniel Slomka, Lendsey Achudi and Klaudia Wolniewic, HIA Fellows 2014

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No – it’s the Jewish Troll! And he is here to haunt anti-Semitic hate-speech over the Internet. Beware!

Here we are – Daniel Slomka, Lendsey Achudi and Klaudia Wolniewicz – the Jewish Trolls. We are like a colorful puzzle, made of intelligence, courage and awesomeness. And, of course a little bit of modesty. ☺

We were tasked with something difficult: to make a social campaign counteracting hate speech against Jews. So, we decided to run a really controversial Facebook page:  “The Jewish Troll”, playing with words by asking, “Hate juice?” Why the Troll? A lot of hate-speech, towards different groups, can be found over the Internet. It is, of course, provocative and outraging, but what should be the proper reaction? Should we get angry, and give the haters what they want? As the story says, “haters gonna hate”, so we might as well just fight back in a creative, funny and…well…a bit annoying way ;)

But before that, we had to respond to a key question initially: What language should we use to talk about the Jewry in contemporary Poland? We had to consider the 1,000 years of history of these two nations. We decided to talk about this sensitive subject in a funny way. This was a courageous yet risky decision. It was also a huge challenge to us and those who visited our page. The main goal of our action was to counteract hate speech against Jews by educating in a humorous way. So, Klaudia was responsible for the more formal things like searching statistics, articles, scientific researches and so on. On our page, you will find the results of CBOS research “Attitudes of Poles towards other nationalities” (2013). We will keep adding more information about the knowledge of Poles on Jewish issue and more. Do you know that 14% of Poles think that in there are 1 000 000 Jews currently living in Poland? In fact, there are only about 7 000 Jews! Daniel and Lendsey, they preferred creating spunky and funny memes and movies (you have to watch our movie: “Evil Hitler finds out about the Jewish Troll”).

Nonetheless, fame has its price, and as every popular page, we had to struggle with  haters and trolls ourselves. This was our main difficulty during work. Few pages blocked us (yes, “Młodzież Wszechpolska” and “Festiwal Orle Gniazdo”, we are talking about you), and some other nice people visited our page and left “love messages”. We responded, as expected from a troll, with some memes against them. The truth is we really wanted to start a discussion, but they refused. Too bad.

Fortunately, we also have a lot of supporters, like “Wielkie sprzątanie FB. Stop mowie nienawiści, faszyzmowi i agresji” or “No hate movement”, which are also Facebook pages against hate speech in general.  There are more than 200 people who already liked our page and the total reach is about 20 000.
Another step we took was to use offline means or spreading our message. We created “Hate juice?” t-shirts and we wear them during important events, like meeting with founder and Executive Director of Humanity in Action – Judith Goldstein or “Mowa nienawiści. Wykluczam wykluczenie” – an event organized by Jewish Historical Institute. And this is only the beginning: the Jewish Troll is here to stay, and he will continue to haunt for haters. Brace Yourselves – the Jew-lovers are coming !

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Memes for Tolerance

by Sudip Bhandari, HIA Fellow

"Memes! Really?” I questioned when I first learned that a big part of my HIA Poland fellowship would be dedicated to creating memes. “Creating memes for 2 weeks?” I doubted HIA’s public portrayal of itself as an intensive program held any water. Memes, as I knew them were the combination of funny pictures with satirical comments. My friends would share some popular memes on Facebook like the one below. These memes had no scholarly significance. I doubted the efficacy of memes in fighting a complicated and sensitive issue like hate speech.

What started as an uncertain journey has, after two weeks, turned into a very meaningful experience. My group, which included two amazingly talented Polish fellows Kasia Gerula and Joanna Socha, has created a lot of memes, and we are committed to fighting anti-Semitism prevalent in Polish society. A big accomplishment is my new understanding of memes. These are concepts or behaviors that spreads rapidly among people of a certain culture. Memes need not entail just pictures and funny statements; they can be presented in writings, speeches, gestures, etc. Memes could mean a lot of things, from popular fashionable jeans that many people wear, to a new novel that a huge part of the public reads; these are things people could mimic.

My experience creating memes to fight anti-Semitism brought to attention the enormity of the problem itself. According to the report published recently by the Batory Foundation at the Polish parliament, 19 percent of adults and 21 percent of young people consent to anti-Semitic statements like: "Jews must realize that they themselves made Poles to hate them because of their treachery and their crimes. And today, they try to hide their crimes and pass the buck". It is a sad realization that we still live in a hateful world, despite the knowledge that hatred is a slippery slope that could lead to mass extermination; the Holocaust is the most evident example. Despite efforts from the governments, civil societies, educational systems, etc., a huge part of the Polish society still possesses stereotypes and prejudices against the Jews.

Learning about the problem provided me an impetus to create a more deliberative social campaign against discrimination. My group chose to tackle the issue of hate speeches against Jews in football (soccer) stadiums. Cheers like "Move on, Jews!" and "Your home is at Auschwitz!" from passionate football fans are troubling. Our social campaign that included a documentary type video and a Facebook page tried to reach out to soccer fans that could be identified as bystanders or passive acceptors of these hate speeches. We created memes that are thought provoking, like the one below. We tried to enforce a perspective that we can all be friends, despite our religious, ethnic or sports backgrounds. We called our campaign “Cheer for Tolerance”, with the hope that it will inspire young people to cheer for acceptance and understanding, instead of hateful messages.

Created by Kasia Gerula, this informative meme mentions that 60% of the hate speech is delivered to young people through the Internet.

In terms of public visibility, our Facebook page has reached over 24,600 people;more than 50 people have “Liked” our page, and over 300 have viewed our video posted on Youtube. We have clearly exceeded our initial goal. But, this is not the end. In fact, it is just the beginning. We hope to continue our campaign of creating awareness and prompting people to fight against anti-Semitism in the future. I have come to become a strong advocate of social campaigns as not an end on themselves, but as an effective means to promote awareness.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Destroying Anti-Roma Hate Speech, One Brick At a Time

(Michael, Łukasz, Kasia Balas)

The Roma (also known as Romani) community represents one of the most marginalized minority groups in Poland, and is one of the greatest recipients of both on- and offline hate speech. Admittedly, however, our group was not thrilled to have anti-Romani hate speech as our project topic for our social media campaigns. Immediately, we saw two major challenges:

1.)    Although they experience some of the most hate speech, the Roma people account for less than 0.01% of the Polish population. Connected to this fact, the most recent nationwide research on hate speech showed that most Polish youth and adults think of Roma as insignificant; they hear and see a considerable amount of this hate speech on social media and in everyday interactions, but do not find such comments or beliefs as problematic. 

2.)    Given that the Roma community is largely unique to European – particularly Eastern European – culture, it would be difficult to build a multi-national audience for our campaign. Outreach to any networks or social media participants in the United States, for example, would likely yield poor results due to very limited knowledge of the Roma population. 

These concerns left more questions than answers: What type of effective campaign could we create given the previously mentioned challenges? How were we going to build an active following, and who would they be? How much could we actually accomplish with less than one week to brainstorm, implement and evaluate the results of our campaign? 

In other words, we simply didn’t know what to do.
Fortunately, however, all three of our group members were bursting with creativity. In fact, one of our greatest challenges was simplifying our ideas to actually accomplish something meaningful within the six-day time parameter. We started with abstract metaphors such as connecting the removal of hate speech in society to doing laundry. We even thought of doing short videos, photo shoots, and a small press event inviting Polish media (yes, we thought that big). 

Ultimately, we narrowed our ideas down, and “Bez Murow” (Without Walls) was born. Our theme focused on how hate speech builds walls of divisiveness and injustice – similar to the ghetto walls that once contained some of the Roma people during the Holocaust. Using the motif of brick walls, the campaign aimed to raise awareness about this particular injustice and to challenge Poles to destroy the walls of hate. Given the aforementioned challenges, we decided to make the campaign specific to Polish citizens. It was designed to be a purely online effort using a Facebook page and memes showing primarily young Facebook users the unethical and frequent use of anti-Roma hate speech. 

Our logo would include a heart – similar to that of the No Hate Speech Movement already present in Poland – featuring the Roma flag inside of it (seen above). The first meme used the brick wall thematic concept in the background, while also showing the hateful comments about Roma that Poles search for on Google (many use the politically incorrect and offensive term of “Gypsie,” producing search suggestions and results such as “Gypsies are thieves,” “Gypsies are dirty,” etc.) – similar to a concept used by a UN Campaign against sexism. The rest of our memes took on the forms of presenting research data about anti-Roma hate speech in Poland using the latest report on the subject. 

Within the first two days, we reached our project goal of obtaining 1,500 views on our Facebook page for Bez Murow. After more outreach to anti-hate speech groups as well as buying Facebook page promotions, we reached over 36,000 views and engaged over 2,000 people in likes, comments, and shares of our various posts. We even took our message to the streets of Warsaw, chalking our Facebook page website on sidewalk along with our campaign tagline “Bez Murow”, and passing out pamphlets displaying our memes.

We were quite pleased with the results, along with the discussions and interactions – both supportive and non-supportive – that occurred on our Facebook page. With more time, however, we would focus greater attention on making our memes more personable and provocative to share and go viral, and consult more members of the Roma community in Warsaw for constructive input and collaboration. We believe that the minorities being affected should take the most ownership over efforts such as these; thus, we hope that the few Roma NGOs we connected with will take our research and ideas and use them to their own advantage to defeat the walls of hate in Poland, one brick at a time. 

Friday, 27 June 2014

Being in a group with the responsibility of creating a social campaign about LGBTQ hate speech issues in Poland in one week and reaching 1,500 people.

(Dylan, Andrzej, Anna)

As an American fellow, those words and that phrase scared me. As an American fellow, group work doesn’t come easy: I talk a lot and I don’t easily trust others with actually doing their work.

As an American fellow, I’m still not fully comfortable with commenting about Poland and their political issues. Like every other country, their relationship status on Facebook is complicated. I also don’t have much experience creating a social campaign or researching LGBTQ issues.

And, all this in one week? Fuhgeddaboudit![i]

But actually, for real, this worked out. Here’s why: my group was awesome!

With Andrzej Mikołajewski reppin[ii] Poland with his campaign experience and Anna Mykytenko reppin Ukraine with her artistic talents and (most importantly) patience, I quickly realized our diversity and talents were our greatest strength.

Faith Bosworth, straight outta[iii] Peng Collective in Berlin, was our mentor for the week. Her creativity, enthusiasm, and cool demeanor rubbed off on us. That first day, she stirred our imaginations to think of utopia (and dystopia, but why focus on the negative?) in relation to our issue, and make an advertisement about it.

Well, actually. To tell you the truth, my group’s imagination wasn’t all that stirred. The other group’s, yeah, sure. My group? For those allotted 20 minutes, we struggled. I kept thinking of dystopia, Andrzej kept over-thinking positivity, and Anna kept thinking of overly preachy messages.

At the last minute (literally), we finally agreed on something. There would be a split screen: black and white, thunderstorms and sunshine, football hooligans and a lot of gay people. God would be atop presiding. The gay people would be pleasantly walking to the football stands, and the football hooligans would be attempting to ruin their moment. But, every attempt the hooligans would do something hooligany, God would change it to something polar opposite.

Hooligans throw a rock? The rock becomes a flower. Gay people get happier and closer, and the hooligans more frustrated. Hooligans curse and say “Fuck you!”? The phrase becomes “I love you!” Gay people get happier and closer, and the hooligans more frustrated. The hooligans try to throw a punch? God intervenes and makes it a hug.

Then the scene becomes colorful with a rainbow (of course) and the hooligans become gay (as in, happy). And the slogan, “Imagine a world without hate” appears.

Preposterous idea. But guess what, it worked. Fellow fellows were laughing and some told me it actually made them think, for a moment, about a happier world.

My group and I learned a lesson that day: chill.[iv] Let the imagination and ideas flow, don’t take yourself too seriously. What matters is connection with the audience, telling a story, prompting some thought about the issues, and leading them to action. Yes, LGBTQ hate speech issues are very serious; they are deadly. But, if you want to connect and make people move, you don’t necessarily need to be uptight.

This momentum carried over. This time, our idea took five minutes. Boom.[v] We collaborated and created a Facebook-like, infographic-ish[vi] thing detailing hate speech in the LGBTQ community. Anna drew it legit, Andrzej read Polish the way his grandmomma[vii] taught him, and I told people what to do.

This Facebook-like, infographic-ish thing morphed into our campaign. We targeted our target group: neutral and passive supporters, youth, and Facebook users with LGBTQ friends. We targeted the hate speech at a specific place: the internet. And we had a message: stand up for your LGBTQ friends because a lot of people already support LGBTQ people (over 75%). Aka, it’s already cool to be a nice guy toward the LGBTQ community, so, become one.

So we had the idea. And everything went smooth. And now I’ll stop writing this blog post. …. Right? … … Nope.

We hit some walls. Andrzej wanted every meme to show the audience an example of positive behavior; I thought it was more powerful to show a void. Anna thought the comments were too mean; Andrzej thought they were, if anything, soft.[viii] I thought we should expand the idea into an interactive space; no one agreed with me. I can go on, but my head would explode.

But we compromised. We made two memes with positive behavior and two memes with a void; we softened some comments and kept others; and we definitely did not make the page interactive. The egos of Andrzej and I should be an exhibit at the museum, but Anna’s listening and patience made us into boy scouts.[ix]

With the creative walls vanquished, we had another problem: we aren’t graphically designed inclined.

I took a computer class my senior year of high school but it was my senior year of high school. Totally forgot it. Shout out and sorry to Mr. Chiafulio.

But we were saved. This time, by Hannes, also straight outta Peng Collective in Berlin. This guy helped eight other groups with their graphics and made them all look legit.[x] He is amazing and has an impressive beard.

Through being in a fake relationship with Hannes (which somehow generated 30 likes on Facebook) and checking into a gay club in Warsaw, I enabled our group to produce screenshots for him to edit.

Then the question came, where would these memes go. Yes, mom, they would go on the world wide web. But, where? Website? Facebook page? Psh, no. Let’s give them to NGOs in Poland!

Oh, what a heart-warming, selfless idea. Just one problem. It was a holiday weekend. We reached out to a few organizations, and they all thought the memes were awesome, but they were also about to go on vacation. Thus, none actually had the time to officially approve our memes.

We were annoyed for about 20 minutes. Then, Andrzej played soccer with his brother and I left the hostel for the botanical gardens. Anna, once again, stepped up. Her, along with help from Andrzej, created the Facebook page, titled it “Dobre towarzystwo” (“Good Company”) and spread it.

Two days later, we – WE – surpassed the HIA goal of 1,500 people reached.

Now, I’m no longer scared to express my humanity in actions that will spread love.
Thanks. Good bye. Dylan.

[i] According to Urban Dictionary, “fuhgeddaboudit” means “1. Forget about it - the issue is not worth the time, energy, mental effort, or emotional resources. 2. Definitively ‘no.’” The term is almost never used, but associated with Italian-Americans in New York City, New Jersey and Boston.
[ii] According to Urban Dictionary, “reppin” means “to represent something or some place.”
[iii] According to Urban Dictionary, “outta” means “out of.” Within this context, it is indicating the origin of the subject.
[iv] According to Urban Dictionary, “chill” means “1. To calm down.”
[v] According to Urban Dictionary, “boom” is a word that can be utilized as an “oral exclamation mark but in a purely conversational context. Its function is not as heightened as the afore mentioned symbol so its impact is designed to simply reinforce ones point or statement. Generally found in light hearted, but not overtly humorous, situations.”
[vi] According to Urban Dictionary, “ish” means “kind of/sort of, usually added onto the end of a word or phrase.”
[vii] I made this word up. “Grandmomma” was coined to describe someone’s grandmother. Officially penned by Dylan Kitts in June 2014, the word “grandmomma” has its origins in the black vernacular term “momma.” The word “momma” is utilized to express the word “mother”, or, “mom”. 
[viii] According to Urban Dictionary, “soft” means “some one who is weak and feable.”
[ix] According to Urban Dictionary, “boy scout” is “one who does everything according to the rules.”
[x] According to Urban Dictionary, “legit” is a “modern synonym for words such as ‘cool’, ‘ill’, ‘tight’, or ‘dope’. Used to describe a noun that is of a particularly excellent quality.”