This profile was prepared when Miroslav Janik was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
The mountainous White Carpathian area is home to a population of Moravian Czechs who have lived there for centuries and have such a distinctive culture that they constitute a micro-ethnic group among themselves. Miroslav Janík, who is a White Carpathian, has founded a grass-roots organization to maintain their way of life and the agricultural environment in which it is set. Though he sees himself as an environmentalist, his work differs from his peers in the Czech Republic in that he makes no distinction between protecting the Carpathian place and the human settlements there; he sees their fates asintertwined. He promotes stewardship of the cultural diversity that the region represents in an increasingly homogeneous world, both as an end in itself and as the most effective means for maintaining its bio-diversity. A key part of his work is to give support to the White Carpathians who are being forced by the changing economy to abandon their traditional livelihoods. Miroslav realizes that the needs of these people are as varied as they are many. Accordingly, he has established a comprehensive support center, which provides a range of services to enable them to remain in their historical communities and work out the economic adjustments that make that possible.