Behind the scenes
Deep in the Polish forest of Białowieża, we met with our first cross-border duo Lorenzo Pirovano and Nicolas Blandin to talk about their feature for our ongoing Borderline project. Białowieża is the last European primeval forest and a battleground between local ecologists, the Polish government and Brussels.
The so-called ‘Suwałki corridor’ in the north-east of Poland, which neighbours the Russian militarised enclave of Kaliningrad, risks becoming a target for Russian military aggression. Our second cross-border duo, Grzegorz and Artur, are working on a feature in the nearby town of Augustów, where a school trains local youth to become paramilitary soldiers.
Progressive, pro-refugees, openly gay and engaged, the former MEP and current mayor of Slupsk – a remote town near the Baltic coast – Robert Biedroń is an outlier in the Polish political scene. Our third cross-border team, Jakob and Robert, reported on the spirit of the border town at the end of the mayor’s first term.
The MKS Olimpia Szczecin is a regional football club whose female division made it into the First League in 2015. Our fourth cross-border team, Karolina and Katarzyna, spent time with the successful girl gang — a small miracle in a country constantly challenging the role of women in society.
Despite several mass protests, it is still illegal for Polish women to have an abortion; the country has some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe. Our fifth cross-border team, Kaja and Anna, investigated the journeys women make from Slubice in Poland to the German border to regain the right to their own bodies.
Team Jelenia Góra
In a small border town between Poland and the Czech Republic, it’s hard to find love. It’s even harder to do so if you are part of the LGBT+ community. That is why many gay men turn to Grindr in search of partners. Our sixth cross-border team, Petr and Mateusz, headed to Jelenia Góra to find out what dating is like for this community who may share bedsheets but not the same language.
Katowice, a city in the south-east of Poland, is home to Europe’s largest coal producer and one of the most polluted cities in Europe. This year, the EU’s top court ruled that Poland has persistently breached European standards on air pollution. Our seventh cross-border team Hélène and Kasia went to find out why – despite health and environmental dangers – young people still choose to work 400 metres below ground and take on a career in the mining industry.
For eastern Ukrainians, Lublin is the new place to be. Its low cost of living, high level of education and proximity to the Ukrainian border allow migrants fleeing the conflict back home and economic hardships that come with it find peace. Our eighth cross-border team, Tatiana and Gregor, set off to understand what a new life for Ukrainian migrants in Lublin entails.