A village where skepticism is changing into engagement

Markoušovice is a small village near Trutnov in Northeastern Bohemia. It was an independent municipality until 1981, when it became part of another town (Velke Svatoňovice), which led to the decline of many community activities. Residents in Markoušovice no longer felt there was any reason to get together as a town community and neighborly relations began to deteriorate.

When we visited Markoušovice in August with a jury selecting projects for the 10th year of our program, The Community in Which We Live, we talked to a few locals about their views on the proposed revitalization of the town square, which was the project that the town had submitted to the program. Most of the people we spoke with didn’t want to talk to us at all and those who did grant us a few minutes of their time were skeptical that the project would actually happen. Nonetheless, or maybe because of this challenge, our jury did select the Markoušovice’s project! So here’s an update to what’s happening there now (the historical photo shows the square in the lower right):

The Markoušovice project to revitalize its town square seeks to create a new place for residents to gather. It would like to bring longstanding and new residents together and start to build connections with the various local associations. Since September, the project team has been meeting regularly and trying to engage as many residents as possible in the planning phase for the new square.

This past December a Christmas tree lighting event was held to bring attention to the project:

“The event was organized by the local association Anthill with help from other groups – the Czech Red Cross, Sokol Athletic Association and the town of Velké Svatoňovice. On one Sunday afternoon during advent, local children put on a play about Christmas Eve which included the performance of a local actor. It was the first time local actors had performed here since a volunteer theater group stopped performing some 48 years ago. The mayor, Radek Posdiena, also said a few words, inviting everyone to the first planning meeting for the proposed revitalization of the town square project in January. There was also a traditional Christmas market with handmade crafts made by local residents and Christmas candelabras with the project logo. More than 200 residents from Markoušovice and other towns took part in the event,” (by Josef Dvořák of Markoušovice).

Markoušovice has 311 residents, which means that most of them participated in the event. Initial skepticism is gradually changing as more and more people become involved in the project. The planning and design phase will take place over the winter months, with construction beginning this spring. A grand re-opening of the town square scheduled for fall 2016.

A map showing projects that Via Foundation has supported over the last two years in the Czech Republic can be found here.