This profile was prepared when Jacek Jakubiec was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Jacek is involving the communities in the process of restoring the structural and cultural integrity of dilapidated castles, farmhouses, and other buildings scattered throughout the region. Through this effort, he brings new hope, pride, and opportunity to destitute communities of high unemployment. To teach young people old skills, he has created the first of what he hopes will be a network of artisan academies, offering programs in carpentry, blacksmithing, and other "lost" arts. With this foundation, young people can apprentice to a more senior artisan or start out on their own with Jacek's help. In addition to introducing new professional skills and employment to these communities, Jacek's restoration projects increase tourism, provide further income generation potential, and call attention to the importance of environmental preservation. And what's more, he uses the restored buildings to serve the communities as libraries, cultural events centers, or venues for exhibitions and concerts. Through these economic and cultural benefits, Jacek has garnered the support and involvement of the communities in which he works.