Thursday, August 19, 2010

Friends of Poland

I've been a member of Friends of Poland, an online discussion and information group for people interested in Poland and Polish things for about six years now, and I recommend it as a place where people can talk with others about everything from Polish cuisine to Polish history, from Polish film to Polish politics.

Here's a recent piece by member Robert Strybel describing the group:

Interested in people, places and things Polish history, culture, politics, current events, religion, traditions, food and most anything else? Do you occasionally have a question about your Polish heritage but don't know whom to ask? Are there things about being of Polish background you sometimes would like to discuss with someone? If you have answered affirmatively to any of those questions, Friends of Poland might be worth looking into.

Friends of Poland (FoP for short) is a unique Internet discussion forum devoted to any and all topics relating to things Polish or Polonian. Not knowing Polish is no obstacle, because all discussion is in English. The forum was set up in the 1990s by Polish-born IT expert Marcin Żmudzki, but most members are US-born Polonians. Other participants hail from Australia, Canada, Poland, Britain, Russia and other countries.

"I joined FoP in 1998, as I was looking for information to assist me in an upcoming trip to Poland," explained Laura Zurowski, a college official from Clintondale, NY, who is now one of the forum's moderators. "This year we have also started a FoP Facebook addressed to a younger audience with moreemphasis on arts and culture. Now that we have two avenues to participate(Facebook and YahooGroups) we have something to offer all those interested in the topic of Poland and Polonia."

Another FoP stalwart is John Radzilowski, a University of Alaska history professor. "I joined because it was and is one of the few places where Poles and Pol-Ams could discuss issues and exchange ideas in areas ranging from politics and religion to cultural matters and even Polish food," he told this reporter. "I've learned a lot from FoP. The great thing about it is that not everyone shares the same point of view. It's a bit like a community center, open to everyone even if some people spend way more time there than others."

FoP participants include Rik Suligowski Fox, one of Polonia's leading historical re-enactors, who regularly promotes the glory of Old Poland's military might on America's Renaissance Faire circuit. One FoP contributor from Michigan is now planning to move to Krakow in a few years, when he and his wife retire.

Another is James Conroyd Martin, the non-Polonian author of Poland-themed historical novels. The forum is an excellent place to announce Polish or Polonian events as well as Polish-related books, projects or services. But aside from people knowledgeable about and/or directly involved in Polish or Polonian affairs, like all such forums the FoP also has its share of lurkers. That is the term applied to participants who prefer to listen to and learn what others are saying rather than to actively contribute. There is no obligation to post messages, but after a time some lurkers decide to join in the discussion.

The only rules are that each post must pertain to some facet of things Polish or Polonian and be in English. If Polish terms or sayings are posted, and English translation must be included. And posters are required to sign each message with their name and location.

Another benefit of FoP is a daily news service dealing with Polish current affairs, compiled by another forum veteran, Professor Roman Solecki. Another of his achievements is his constantly expanding Prominent Poles website. It is a goldmine of information on Poles and Polonians who have made various contributions to the world.

If you feel such a source of information and the lively discussion it often generates may be your cup of tea, contact listowner Marcin Zmudzki for more information and details on how to join: marcin(at)zmudzki.net--substitute @ for (at).

4 comments:

Marcin Zmudzki said...

John,

Thank you for telling your blog readers about Friends of Poland around the World. I have enjoyed managing this online community, for over ten years now. I am grateful to the forum's participants for offering their stories, questions and answers.

Robert Strybel--who, as you know, is a U.S.-born Polish journalist and an active member of the Friends of Poland forum--sent his article about FoP to a number of Polish American magazines. I hope some of these magazines will publish the article.

The FoP forum has several more rules of conduct, in addition to keeping all posts focused on things Polish. First, persons interested joining the group must introduce themselves to me and provide me with their contact information. I have never shared that information with anyone. The introduction is meant only to discourage anonymous participation. This requirement has limited the number of participants, but that is a price I am willing to pay. In addition, participants must refrain from aggressive or disrespectful behavior or else their posts will be rejected by moderators. We have had many disagreements and even quarrels in the group, but the rules of conduct and the work of moderators have steered the forum away from total chaos and dysfunction that some other groups have fallen into.

The group's website, include an archive of messages, is here.

Best regards,
Marcin Zmudzki

Anonymous said...

John,

Thanks for this information about Friend of Poland and the FoP Facebook page. I really don't know how you and Marcin keep up with all of this Polish information! I'll post something on my Facebook page about this.

Helen Ochej

John Guzlowski said...

Thanks, Helen.

uzar said...

Love the site, John.

Raf