So the Lodz team is a week into our challenge and I finally got around the pulling together some photos and writing about our experiences.
I’m capturing this in travel-log form as opposed to any other form. So please excuse the informal style.
Day 1 – November 2rd – Warsaw
The team arrived in Warsaw from Canada, USA, and Australia on Saturday and spent the day getting acclimatized to the time zone. The organizers were kind enough to plan a welcoming dinner for us to meet each other and the team supporting the program.
Day 2 – November 3rd – Warsaw
Poland is a country of contrasts. It first strikes you in the construction of infrastructure and buildings. It was especially evident in the cities of Warsaw and Lodz. New buildings are built beside the crumbling ruins of the past. New streets are paved on top of the old. Communist architecture of strength is alongside the rich opulence of the past and the promise of new construction. Many of the photos here will try to show that contrast.
There is a particular respect that Warsaw has for its past and it’s captured in the museums and public displays. The new Museum of the Uprisings is quite close to the Hilton hotel and so it was visited by a couple of us. Many interactive displays focus on individuals and their contributions. It’s well worth a visit to begin to understand what happened in Warsaw during WWII. The following photo is of one of the displays in the museum. The foreground concrete is from the ruins of the building in the photo.
We were given a walking tour of Warsaw to call out some of the contrasts and the pride they have in the past and the future.
It was the All Saints Day holiday weekend when we arrived. And so we were taken to the large Jewish cemetery to understand more about how people visit to pay their respects to family, friends, the famous or their heroes. The place is immense.
Day 3 – November 4th – Warsaw to Lodz (pronounced Woodj)
This is the first day of the engagement. After a meeting with the local IBM Leadership team, we arrived in Lodz in the afternoon just in time for a meeting with the Mayor (known as President) to officially open the program with us and her staff. At this meeting we presented our objective and approach.
From left to right
– Jolanta Jaworska (IBM Poland – Government programs)
– Richard McDonald (ESC Team – Canada) – me !
– Tomasz Rozmus (ESC Team – Poland)
– Susan Spector (ESC Team – USA)
– Hanna Zdanowska (Mayor of Lodz)
– Marion McDougall (ESC Team – Canada)
– Murali Jayaraman (ESC Team – Australia)
– David Castle (ESC Team – USA)
– Celia Moore (IBM Corporate Citizenship)
The city later took us for dinner at a local fine restaurant. Much of the conversation with the mayor was about the city and its potential.
Day 4 – Nov 5th – Lodz
We’re now getting in the engagement. The primary objective is to help the city make the delivery of social programs more effective and efficient.
Our primary liaison group is the Municipal Organization for Public Welfare (in Polish known as MOPS). The MOPS leadership team organized many of the sessions in the first week with the different groups in the city.
The photo shows us in a very formal meeting room in City Hall with microphones at each desk and a translator. All our meetings were in Polish with translation to English for us. By its very nature, it takes longer to get ideas across and ask questions.
As well as ESC Team Lodz in this photo are: Anna Jawor (IBM Poland government programs) and Igor Mertyn (MOPS).
The afternoon was a walking tour of Lodz to show us the redevelopment that has been happening thanks – in many cases – to EU funding. There is a new railway station being built including a portion underground to connect the station in the north east with the station in the south west. The main shopping street is also being rebuilt and many buildings have been redone but many are still in need of renovation.
A local hero is poet Julian Tuwim. He’s that statue sitting on the bench in front of city hall. Rubbing his nose on his bronze statue is said to bring good luck. This is our tour guide getting his dose of good luck.
Culture and creativity are the new tag lines for Lodz. And we saw a lot of examples of building murals and statues of poets and musicians.
Lodz became wealthy in the 1800’s with the construction of huge textile factories. They were all made of brick and many are still standing today. Their owners built large houses very close to – or even attached to – their factories. These are called “palaces” and there are quite a few of them. And, of course, the workers had their housing. A number of the large factories have been converted to other uses. For example: shopping and apartments.
There are factories in town……….
Just outside of downtown …….
The huge Manufaktura complex is built on the site of one factory. Many of its brick buildings have been converted for other uses: shops, restaurants, clubs and a hotel.
Day 5 – Nov 6th – Lodz
Today was spent with the MOPS team going through the city organization and the major services delivered. The lady in the centre is the director of MOPS. She’s gone everywhere with us.
We also visited a couple of delivery centres. They illustrated the contrasts in the condition of government buildings.
Lastly, we settled into our “war room” at the hotel. We’re staying in a new DoubleTree. It’s about a 15-20 minute walk from the town centre. It’s quite nice with great facilities. The staff is “settling in” to their roles.
Day 6 – Nov 7th – Lodz
We spent the morning with the Employment Bureau to understand their processes and particularly how their systems interact with other government systems.
For the afternoon, we split up to allow part of the team to work and another part to talk to a couple of groups. We had a great talk with the team that’s responsible for promoting the town. We also had a very productive talk with the privacy officials. These both happened in the main conference room in city hall.
Day 7 – Nov 8th – Lodz
Today we visited a senior citizen’s home. It was very nice. Of course, they introduced us to a 90 year old resident who was very sharp and quick. Although the exterior needed a little work, the interior was quite nice. The lady in the photo runs the admin office and was kind enough to walk us through their systems.
Our last meeting of the day was with the City Hall IT team at City Hall. Again, we had a very nice room, our translator, tea service and cookies. For every single meeting they’ve had with us, they’ve provided tea and cookies. It’s been fabulous – at least for those of us who like cookies.
Dinners in the early part of the week have been in the hotel as we’ve been compiling notes and planning the days. On Thursday we did manage a late dinner in the Mexican place at Manufaktura. Dinner Friday was a nice Italian restaurant called Angelo’s just off the main street.
Day 8 – Nov 9th – Krakow
It’s the weekend and the team has decided to take the train to Krakow. Many thanks to our “fixer” Magda for helping us buy train tickets and make plans.