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Konrad Smoczny

Varsovians: Konrad Smoczny

A Żoliborz resident for three generations, since three years a district councillor, an allotment lover. A co-owner of Vacaloca – an advertising agency, works in the Miasto Jest Nasze Association, runs a photo blog called – Żoliborz Moje Miasto (Żoliborz My City). On warm Monday we met with him at his allotment in Żoliborz, which he named “Ogród Zwany Eden” (Garden Called Eden) after the hip hop song by DJ 600V. His lovely dog – Bajka kept us company.

You have known these allotments probably since your childhood?
– Yes, because I’ve been living exactly 300 metres away from this place. As a kid I used to run here with my friends, steal fruit. My primary school is just around the corner, so during physical education we seized every opportunity to sneak out here. It was an oasis of freedom. I had this feeling that I am out of my parents sight for a moment.

I decided to lease my 220 m2 space with an allotment shed a few years ago. I was looking for a place in the Mazury district because I love nature and dreamt of some kind of summer resort there but the distance turned out to be too long. I wouldn’t have so much time to spend on travelling back and forth. However, now I have a few minutes to get to my allotment. I play my vinyls on an old record player and rest.

An oasis of calm in Żoliborz, which itself is an place of greenery and peace in our city. You named your blog: Żoliborz Moje Miasto. Do you have an autonomy movement in Żoliborz?
– If you cut us from the city near Gdański Station, we would be self – sufficient: we have access to the river, theatre, fitnes club, swimming pool, parks and all you need for a good life.

Not many young people are eager to join the district council or city council. Why have you decided?
– The easiest way is to bury your head in the sand and do nothing. Or spend your entire time on social media platforms nagging. I wanted to have bigger influence on my borough. I have met incredible people from the Miasto Jest Nasze Association.

In the council they consider me a freak. I am apolitical, independent, have tattoos, don’t wear neat shoes. Sometimes it is not easy. I get emails:  “You f…ing leftie. In case of war we will come for you first”. Then I politely reply, that I am on duty this and that day and I invite to come and say it to my face.

Recently my project of installing at the Wilsona roundabout a big “W” letter neon (“W” stands for Warsaw, Wilson, Welcome) gave rise to many negative comments. Because what does it exactly mean: welcome refugees, or what? And it all seemed such a non controversial issue.

For sure there are still more complicated issues?
– Fight with commercial and architectural chaos, pedestrian and bike friendly projects, which always meet with strong protests from the drivers. I also declared a war against people who don’t clean after their dogs. I published photos of them with covered faces online. The issue raised strong emotions.

And what have you succeeded in? What are you proud of?
– I have initiated the first in Warsaw map of craft business –  “Following the pathways of the masters from Żoliborz”. Additionally, with Bajka we run an action of dog friendly places. We tag them and promote. The Intergenerational Dancing near Komedia Theatre is also a wonderful initiative.

Which place, a less obvious one, would you recommend us to visit in Żoliborz?
– I was recently at Aga Zaryan concert at Kalinowe Serce Cafe. The friend of Kalina Jędrusik created a place near her house where she lived with her husband Stanisław Dygat. And this is the next oasis.

Photo: Filip Klimaszewski & Aga Bilska

Konrad Smoczny
Konrad Smoczny
Bar mleczny Sady na osiedlu Sady Żoliborskie

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