Behind the Counter | Ep.3
The plant based corner for positive impact. The story of ‘Baza by Inclusive Buzz’.
It only takes 20 minutes on tram line 4 to get from the old town to Plac Zbawiciela. Warsaw is unique and, unlike other European cities, the hustle and bustle of the Polish capital’s everyday life here shifts from the city centre –which is reserved for tourists– to outlier neighbourhoods like this one, a meeting spot for young people full of cafés and restaurants. Not so long ago this square was the site of Tęcza –’rainbow’ in Polish– artwork by the Polish artist Julita Wójcik and a symbol of the LGBTIQA+ community in the city. From here, we start walking down Marszałkowska Street to arrive at our next location of ‘Behind the Counter’, ‘Baza by Inclusive Buzz’.
Krzysztof, blue-eyed and bearded, is waiting for us at number 28, a communist-style building with very different vibes today. The first striking observation is the large number of people, usually in groups, speaking different languages like English, Polish, or Ukrainian. We sit in the bar-restaurant area –The Beatles’ ‘Revolution’ is playing– and Krzysztof, as the head chef, encourages us to try one of his plant-based dishes from the menu. At Baza, everything is designed to generate a positive impact and, luckily, there are many like-minded people surrounding us here on this chilly December morning.
What is ‘Baza by Inclusive Buzz’?
“Baza by Inclusive Buzz is a non-profit organisation whose main objective is to serve as a space that is offered, free of charge, to young activists to gather and work on projects that have a positive impact on society. It’s a multidisciplinary place where they can meet in groups and organise all types of activities like work sessions, lectures, workshops, concerts, and more.
As an organisation, it was founded two years ago but it was not until 1 April of this year that Baza was born, lending its name to both the headquarters where we are and the restaurant inside. We work here with about 15-20 people, on the one hand there are 3 of us who run the association and take care of the space bookings, while the rest are individuals who at some point came to us looking for help.” More than 80% of the staff in Baza are foreigners who came to Poland looking for their first job opportunity and here, depending on their skills and regardless of the language they speak, they have been offered a job in the bar or the kitchen with a path towards learning a profession and then getting a job outside the organisation.
In which fields do the projects developed here focus?
“In all kinds of fields. Here you can find groups working on environmental conservation issues –a couple of environmental NGOs have already been founded here–, LGBTIQA+ rights activities, concerts and workshops with local artists –we have one on pottery making for example–, film sessions or dance classes. In fact, regarding the latter, we have the ‘Refugee Dance Club’, where refugees who were dance teachers in their home countries teach classes here in Baza.
In fact, the work with refugees has been from the beginning one of the key axis in the projects that have taken place here, especially with refugees from Ukraine given the current situation and the cultural and linguistic proximity between us. Young Ukrainian activists have come here to gather and network and we have also had groups of Poles who set up welcome projects for Ukrainians where, among other things, they helped them to get to know the city, assisted them with administrative procedures in immigration offices or acted as translators. In the end, our purpose is to serve as an incubator for young activists and, in general, for anyone who wants to do good in society”.
How do you align the restaurant with this mission of positive impact?
“We always understood that Baza, as a gastronomic space, had to follow our philosophy of being as socially responsible as possible. This is why we created a menu that respects the environment, that is, using local products and eliminating the presence of meat –the meat industry emits a large amount of emissions that cause climate change. The result was a full plant-based menu with the only exception of some dairy products that we have kept at the express request of our customers –however, in the frame of the educational role we want to play, we also offer a vegan alternative to all these exceptions such as oat milk.
In addition, we decided to set very affordable prices since most of the activists who come here are very young, some of them are still in high school. Thus, at Baza it is possible to order a pizza for 20 PLN, about 4€, which you can even share between two –a price well below the average in the city”.
What made you jump into delivery?
“Until now, for a non-profit organisation like ours, with a very small income that basically covers only the expenses, it was difficult to also consider delivery. However, that all changed with the Zamawiajac-Pomagasz programme (Orders for Support Programme) where Glovo, through its Glovo Access programme, offers NGOs and social organisations the use of its platform and the possibility of selling their products with 0% commission. In this way, we can continue to maintain the quality of food and affordable prices that characterise Baza”.
What is the future of Baza?
“Our aim is for Baza to be a meeting place for people who want to do good in society and have a positive impact. We imagine it’ll become a crowded place where questions about social difficulties are raised and, through the connections we are building here, the organisation will be able to put anyone on the right path to find solutions.
An example happened to us a few weeks ago when we saw a person on the street reading one of our posters in Ukrainian. It was obvious that this was someone in difficulty who had not eaten or showered for a few days. After that, we were not only able to solve those little things, but we knew very well what kind of support we could offer, such as psychological aid, assistance with administrative formalities, etc. We want to be the place where anyone can come and ask questions because the people who are here know how to help and keep making a positive impact on society“.
The story of Baza has brought us a little closer to another of Glovo’s realities. A place whose only driving force is to serve as a social meeting point for good, and where a plant-based philosophy and affordable prices have helped to give new life to a community in need .