Near East: Landscape changes in Eastern Poland

Podlasie region in Eastern Poland has for long been considered very traditional part of the country, with small towns and villages dotting mostly rural landscape, where farming communities and small-scale industry provide jobs and stability.

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Several years ago however, that image started to evolve following deep social and economical changes made possible by two developments. First has been the technological revolution that swept through the world reaching even the most remote places, and allowing people constant internet access at their fingertips. Even though this revolution is very much ongoing, one can already see its effect on the way people, especially young people, communicate, learn, play, or just see the world around them.

Second development is Poland joining the European Union in 2004 and starting to receive unprecedented funding channeled largely into infrastructure, environmental, and agricultural projects. These changes acted as a catalyst for profound transformation of Polish landscape.
Young people emigrate to large cities and abroad, seeking better educational or employment opportunities, inevitably changing social structure of small towns and villages. Teenagers, constantly immersed in virtual world of new apps and social media platforms, are often losing touch with their parent’s generation, stretching the social fabric of the region even more. Information is reaching people faster than ever, allowing quick dispersion of models in various fields, such as arts, culture, fashion to name only a few.

Urban dwellers, escaping stresses and strains of fast-paced life, are rediscovering unassuming qualities of the area, some just for the weekend getaway, others to put down roots. Downshifting is taking place, slowly but steadily driving land and property prices up.Man’s relationship to Nature is beeing altered by growing environmental consciousness and new EU policies introduced. Strict regulations related to environmental protection and agricultural practices are frowned upon and disregarded, at least by those devoted to the old ways.Some local residents are quickly adapting to changing circumbstances. Others are not. We are yet to see what the new Polish landscape will become, and my aim is to follow this transformation as it is taking place.

About the author
Dawid Zieliński was born in 1978. He is a documentary photographer based in Kraków, Poland. Graduated from Jagiellonian University in Kraków. He has been contributing photographer for Magazyn Kontakt since 2016.

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