Today’s community life, volunteering, and civil organisations

Starting over

In 1911, the Community Association for Tenants of the State-owned Workers’ Estate of Kispest was established. It was founded on the idea of a free union of residents.

In no time at all, the people who lived here and held similar standings in society, got closer and gave support to one another. The culture created by mixing peasantry and workers proved to be so strong that it dared challenge notions of unification of the 1950s, and the political efforts of simplification of the 60s and the 70s. This inner strength, and self-consciousness of the estate – in spite of the changes – is basically the same today.

The old Community Association dissolved, as a result ofthe dictatorship’s doctrines, but was re-established again in 1986. For many years, the association’s achievements remained below its potential, however, seeds suitable for supporting community life were sown. In 1994, “Wekerle”, the periodical of the Community Association was first published; in 1996 the Legend Club of Wekerle was established which started collating the history of the estate; and the Circle of Intellectuals started to hold meetings once a month in the local restaurant.

At that time, several patriotic organisations got in touch with the newly formed Community Association. One of them was the emerging Country Building Foundation. The founder and protector of the Foundation was Péter Boross, dr. the director of the Catering Company of South Pest, and a future prime minister.

On 25th November 1987, the 10th anniversary of his death, a full body statue of Károly Kós was inaugurated in the park of the square that bears his name. Imre Pozsgay, state minister, Péte rBoross, the sculptor himself László Péterfy, Imre Makovecz and András Sütő were present. In addition, Pál Beke, the leader of the Károly Kós guild, Anna Jókai the vice-president of the Association of Hungarian Writers and thousands of people from Wekerle, Kispest and Hungary also witnessed the event. The statue was inaugurated by Imre Pozsgay — during which his voice “accidentally” disappeared, for the PA system became muted. The crowd listened to the convivial speeches with bated breath, including the poems of Sándor Kányádi and Lajos Áprily written to Kós and presented by Adrienne Jancsó. The National Anthem sounded even stronger, bringing tears to the eyes. The small hill, on which the statue stands, was covered in flowers and a multitude of candles guarded it until late at night.

In 2002 Wekerle Estate won the praiseworthy Prize of Hungarian Heritage.

In 1990, the Self-Defence Group of Wekerle Citizens, which later served as the core of the Civilian Police of Kispest, was established. In 1997 the Wekerle Running Group came into existence and at the beginning of the 2000’s, the Hungarian College, an association that was originally formed with the intention of helping the cultural work of Hungarians living overseas, appeared in Wekerle. It quickly started to organise independent events, and supported the programmes of the Wekerle Running Club.

The organisation of the 1st Szekely Gate Running of Wekerle (2003) was a turning point. Coordinating a sports event, with various cultural elements required a huge number of helpers. At that time, a team was recruited from within the Wekerle Running Club and they helped organise the event.

Two years later, based on the model of the Autumn Wekerle Days, the two organisations held the Great Spring Event of Wekerle, called “Szekely Gate Day of Wekerle”. It was a village festival. It started on a small budget, which meant that even more volunteers were required. All team members asked friends, neighbours or acquaintances for their help. Afterwards, this team became known as the Circle of Volunteers of Wekerle.

In 2006, new leaders were appointed to the Community Association which resulted in a rapid development of community based events in the Wekerle community.

The volunteers of Wekerle

The preparation for the Centenary, in 2008, provided an enormous boost. At that time, the relationship with the residents was being carefully built on. They already had an established foundation, since e-mail addresses had been collected from the beginning and these formed the basis of the address list for the Wekerle Newsgrid. For a year, multiple community events were organised one after the other. However, this was only the start.

The most important thing was that a group of volunteers, which could be extended in concentric circles, was organized. The events organized in Wekerle Estate have a lot of people behind them – all voluntary workers. Some of them deal with advertisements; others put up posters; some prepare events; they organize, allocate newspapers or put up a tent. They help to build a community. Many of them participate because they enjoy it and they also believe that their work contributes to shaping the Wekerle community. They are convinced that their contribution helps the estate become better and grow into something more.

Message

The Centenary celebrations made many Wekerle residents realise how lucky they were. The heritage of the Wekerle estate and the micro society, which exists here, provide the inhabitants with great opportunities. It helps those who trust in the power of the community. It helps people to live a worthy life – despite money being viewed as the most important thing in this unfit world. The first step was the realisation. The second, was the deed itself; multiple ones to be exact.

Friendships and relationships, that were made through the voluntary work, transformed the volunteers’ way of thinking. It made them more self-confident and self-conscious. They were proud that by joining forces, they collaborated to not only to celebrate the estate’s 100th anniversary in a worthy way, but also to set an example for their peers. All of them hope to have enough energy to carry on the work and also that they leave a better world for their children than the one they have inherited.

Are they crazy?

Does this really make sense? Just think about it – who are those crazy people that work on behalf of others for free, use their own cars and mobile phones without being reimbursed!

What makes these people so selfless?

They just want a more viable world around them! That is why they work late at night, listen to criticism, which is unfair most of the time, and start the next day with even more energy.

They believe in the power of collaboration. That it is possible to fly in the face of time. These people are convinced, that as a member of a community, they can reach a state where it is neither politics that determines their lives, nor the banks that limit their possibilities, nor the TV channels that form their tastes, nor the stylists who tell them what is trendy.

The Wekerle Volunteer is the example of a free citizen finding himself.

Who are these people? They are human beings who, in the hope of a better future, carry tasks. They are both mothers and fathers, who take part in the work of the community, as well as being there for their children and spouses. Amongst them are youngsters, who choose to do this after their school lessons or after work instead of going out, and middle-aged people and pensioners.

Some outsiders may not believe this, they may become suspicious: What is the meaning of all this? They must do it for something?! The Volunteers Group of Wekerle is an anachronism. These people have stepped out of time. They have brought with them the values of their ancestors, nowadays declared by many to be out of fashion, in order to preserve them for the present. Using the words of László Nagy: to take them to the opposite bank, holding them between their teeth… They are building a new world, a more beautiful future, as opposed to the present era. For themselves, and through the example they set for others.

Civil Organizations dealing with culture in Wekerle

Wekerle Community Association (Wekerlei Társaskör Egyesület, public benefit purpose entity)

Year of foundation: 1911, year of reestablishment: 1986, number of members (May 2014) 267

This organisation aims to protect and develop the lifestyle of the tenants, their active participation in community life and the inherited natural and human-made environment. In addition, its mission is to develop the community of this area, improving the lives of the residents, raising their interest in public affairs and strengthening provincialism. Furthermore, among its tasks is the improvement of law and order and the cleanliness of the area.

The Community Association carries out activities of a general interest. Both local and state authorities have recognised the Association’s activities in the fields of culture, public education, settlement- and national monument protection, shielding cultural heritage and environmental protection. The Association has been rewarded with multiple national architectural profession and social life awards. On the Hungarian Architecture Association’s recommendation, the Community Association was awarded the Károly Kós-Prize by the ministry, whilst the Metropolitan Municipality awarded them the Prize for Budapest. 

On the National Monument day in 2011, the Architect Club awarded the community with the Gyula Forster medal for its value conservation and value protecting activities.  In that very same year, the Community Association’s Green Sprout Club, was awarded the prize – For Green Kispest. This was awarded by the mayor.

The 2008 Centenary made Kispest famous, not only in Europe but also overseas. Newspapers from Australia to Israel and Canada reported on the garden city’s centenary. Most people primarily connect Kispest with the football club named after Ferenc Puskás, however, there is also a very strong connection with Wekerle.

In 2009, it joined the Climate Friendly Settlements Association, as the first non-independent settlement, and in 2011 it was the first entity in Hungary to join the movement called ‘Transition Towns’.

The following sections can be found at Wekerle Community Association:

Centre of Volunteers of Wekerle

An operative organization to bring the volunteers together was established at the beginning of 2011.

 Bridge-club

Weekly around the four colours.

Architect Club

Professional club for architects who wish to preserve and get to know the architectural heritage and values of Wekerle Estate.

Fishing Club

From March to November one angling session per month. From November to March there are conversations in the Community Association.

Game Club

Table-, intellectual- and board games with or without tools. A club for those who love playing.

Circular-Knitting-Circle

Knitting Club for everybody: for beginners, for advanced knitters, for boys and girls, for greens and for creative ones.

Old Age Club

Free discussions on grandchildren, gardening, tricks and tips around the house.

Evening Tales of Wekerle

Every Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Community Association, for small ones and big ones, with a different performer each week.

Film Club of Wekerle

Introduction of documentaries then talking to the creators.

Green Sprout

The green thought, the green movement pushed out of the Wekerle Community Association, its seed was provided by the enormous green area of Wekerle, the small gardens, the viable infrastructure and the environmental awareness of the residents higher than the average.

Members of the sections – in order to pursue the activity indicated in their names – get together regularly and lead a club life.

Community interest exchange opportunities organized by Wekerle Community Centre

Exchange of clothes (3 times a year)

Flea Market of Wekerle (3 times a year)

Exchange of Baby stuff (4 times a year)

Hungarian College Cultural Association (public benefit purpose organisation)

Year of foundation: 1996.

The aim of the organization is to protect and enlarge the Hungarian cultural values. The association is an intellectual workshop, a national institution the task of which is to broadcast the results of the Hungarian public education and its methods to the Hungarians living over the borders.

The Hungarian College has taken part in organizing the cultural life of Wekerle estate since 2000. The greater part of its activities trends toward the direct living environment.

Running Club of Wekerle (civil association)

Year of foundation: 1993, number of members: changeable

The Running Club of Wekerle is a loose, friendly organization of people who are fond of healthy running and a healthy lifestyle. The aim of its competitions and events is to popularize cooperation of the residents (running, orienteering, bicycle skills, bicycle tours, walking tours, etc). The community formation effect of Wekerle Running Club happenings goes beyond the events.

Transition Wekerle (civil movement)

The aim of the co-operation of the green groups is not only to find environmentally friendly solutions but also to strengthen the local community by supporting the local producers, entrepreneurs, and the residential community relationships. Their objective is mutual: they see the future Wekerle similarly. They operate a successful green waste and a compost programme. Seed exchange programmes, location-specific tomato adoption events are organized by them. Furthermore, they organize bicycle tours. They also deal with building-energy themes of the Wekerle flats. Volunteers organize window insulation training. For those who are in need in Wekerle the members of the movement carry out insulation free of charge. One of the successful initiatives is the farmers market organized on Thursday afternoons in Wekerle market. Originally the aim of the programme was to find buyers for producers living along the River Tisza and started from the yard of a local resident who wanted to help them.

Community programmes in Wekerle

The Wekerle Centenary programmes (2008) laid the foundations. Most of the programmes invented and implemented at that time have been organized each year since then. The most important recurring events in time sequence are the following ones:

Burying winter – in Károly Kós square, on the day of Ice Breaker Matthew (24th February)

Transforming Wekerle Green Saturday – Seed fair (a Saturday in February)

Film-Gallery – in the basement gallery of the Wekerle Community Association, 5-6 times a year

Celebration of Wekerle Life Tree – in Károly Kós square and in its surroundings, the first Saturday after the vernal equinox (21st March)

Bicycle tour (9 times a year, from March till November, at weekends and on Sundays)

The Earth Day – Károly Kós Square 22nd April

Open Day at the police station: On Saint George Day (24th April)

Wekerle Bike Riding – Bicycle skills competition – in Károly Kós square, last Sunday of April

Budapest 100 (a weekend in April)

Open day at the Fire Station – Saint Florian Day, 4th May

Szekely Gate Days of Wekerle – in Károly Kós square, third weekend of May

Szekely Gate Running of Wekerle – along the streets of the estate, third Sunday of May

Open Air Music – Károly Kós square, June-July, on Sundays

Celebration of Volunteers – Károly Kós square, first Saturday of June

Midsummer Night – Károly Kós square, 24th June

Wekerle Days, cultural and sports programmes – in Károly Kós square, in the Community Association, and the churches, second weekend of September

Canoe tour – Soroksár branch of the Danube – a weekend in September

Day of Cultural Heritage – at more scenes, third weekend of September

Wreathing of the Sándor Wekerle statue – Károly Kós Square, 15th November

Thoughts Calendar of Advent – in the window of Wekerle Community Association, 1-24 December

Advent Fair at weekends – in the Community Association, from 1st December

Santa Claus of Wekerle – at Zrumeczky Gate, 5th December

Christmas Handcraft Fair – in the Community House, first weekend of December

Wreathing of Károly Kós statue – Károly Kós Square, 15th December

Christmas donations for those who are in need – in the middle of December

Decorating the Wekerle Christmas tree – Károly Kós square, on Saturday before 24th December

For detailed information please visit: www.wekerletelep.hu