This profile was prepared when Ryszard Michalski was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
In homogeneous Poland, where the punk youth subculture is regarded as a class of strange social deviants and often excluded from mainstream organizations trying to help young people, Ryszard Michalski is making it possible for them to make significant contributions to society. Ryszard is demonstrating that these young people are as much a part of Poland's new democracy as those who look more ordinary: they have feelings, friends and ideas just like other kids. Ryszard welcomes nonconformity as a positive characteristic that spawns innovation and provides an important critique for the society.Ryszard is providing a venue for alternative young people to express their creativity. He is also educating them on the value of organization and teamwork. He is providing them with the skills necessary to organize and run their own organizations, social clubs or community service programs.