In 1990 Krzysztof, with the support of local authorities, established the Borderland Foundation in Sejny. Inspired by literature from his university days, he chose Sejny because of its location on the borders of Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and Russia. The area still contains many traces of different cultures including those of the Poles, Lithuanians, Jews, Russian "Old Believers," Belarussians, Ukrainians, Roma, and more. The tremendous diversity made this location ideal for building a model of cooperation and mutual enrichment among multicultural communities. The location of the foundation enabled Krzysztof to study, learn, and observe from many different cultural and ethnic groups, religions, and traditional practices that had a direct impact on everyday life and people's relationships in the region. Krzysztof is using this site as a model for community integration throughout the world.
Krzysztof is convinced that by understanding neighbors, past or present, people can learn how to coexist peacefully. He works with societies proud of their pluralistic traditions and also within areas where multicultural diversity may lead to new conflicts and clashes. Krzysztof uses social, cultural, and educational programs to help people get to know, understand, and respect their own history, as well as the history, culture, and traditions of their neighbors. In generating "active culture," there are no divisions between those who perform and those who watch. The model is based on interaction, active participation, and cocreation. Local people, villagers, and inhabitants of borderlands organize cultural activities in the context of local problems and issues. Krzysztof abandons the idea of one-time events and dedicates himself to establishing long-lasting processes of everyday work in the local community, dialogue, and constant exchange with others. Gatherings with authors, writers, artists, and local individuals are planned and organized by local people. A number of activities are focused around having youth and adults participate in the renovation of the ancient buildings, monuments, synagogues, and cemeteries.
Krzysztof believes that children need to understand the past in order to shape the future. Hence, several initiatives have been created to include children and youth. Young people visit the elderly living in villages in several different countries in the border region. They take part in active research and documentation, get to know people and learn how to develop their own identity. The program has grown to become an adventure by which children discover the past. Children started The Sejny Chronicle, which has involved projects like collecting and then exhibiting old postcards and photos. There are a number of programs and initiatives that include teaching traditional craft skills, music lessons, and theater classes. Children who joined the foundation in 1990 are now teaching the next generation of kids.
The Sejny model actively trains community builders. They participate in the international educational program "The Borderland School" aimed at training the leaders of major initiatives and organizations of multicultural communities in Europe and Asia. Since 1997 the school has hosted five groups of young people with 30 people a year. The training has resulted in the creation of several nonprofit institutions and intercultural exchange projects throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Participants take part in three one-week working sessions and two one-week visits to multicultural regions. The training includes lectures, seminars, practical workshops, and discussion sessions and excursions. The foundation also runs other initiatives to stimulate scholarly and public debates on the region's most important issues.
In order to share knowledge and understanding, and promote cooperation beyond borders, the Foundation created the Borderland Cultures Documentation Center. It serves as a resource for materials on human rights, ethnic minorities, tolerance, identity, national culture, and more for Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus region, and Central Asia. The collection houses over 40,000 items (books, journals, films, records, press clippings) and serves as a reference library for scholars around the world. Krzysztof wants to document and publish achievements of young people as well as have them partake in open discussion on the most current issues. In 1993, a highly praised publishing house opened to promote prominent European and international writers as well as international scholarly works of the region. Foundation programs and initiatives are widely promoted in media both in Poland and abroad. The organization has its own film production studio and publishes its own magazine, Krasnogruda.
From its humble beginnings in Sejny, the foundation has developed into an institution recognized throughout Europe as a pioneer and leader in the field of promoting understanding between cultures through innovative activities. For 12 years, Krzysztof has collected experiences from this unique organization operating on the borders of different cultures and nationalities. With the help of the documentation center and training programs, Krzysztof is ready to launch his cultural, educational, and civic programs globally. He is now cooperating with 13 locations in Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Lithuania, and Poland. Ten of them have already formed local associations. In order to extend to other areas such as Central Asia and the Caucasus region, Krzysztof has developed new initiatives. An online newsletter is a source of information for all the participating institutions and he is collecting funds to become a grant-giving organization to support partnering organizations in developing their activities. He is also defining the curriculum for the expansion of the Borderland School concept.
Krzysztof envisions that in the next 10 years, 40 to 50 new centers will be created. The next five years will provide the most dramatic growth phase. The next cycle would consist of similar initiatives growing out of the newly established centers. In the next five to 10 years, the number of participants will grow from 500 to 10,000 individuals.