An early Christmas present: new Living Communities projects

You might say that Christmas came early this year, at least in our Living Communities program. In early December, the Via Living Communities program jury awarded support to 15 projects. The total amount of awarded grants was $48,692 (CZK 1,062,108).

Through this program, VIA provides grants of up to $4,600 (CZK 100,000), educational workshops, and support from an experienced mentor or a fundraising consultant. This comprehensive “package” of support helps strengthen the sustainability and self-sufficiency of local initiatives.

The map below shows all 45 of the projects supported through the Living Communities program in 2017 (the black markers indicate projects supported through the first and second rounds and the orange markers show projects supported in this most recent round).

The jury bases its selection of projects in the Living Communities program on a number of criteria, most importantly community engagement and cross-sector cooperation. In other words, when considering a particular project, the jury asks: how much is the local community engaged in the project? What kind of cooperation is envisioned between the project organization, the town and other entities in the community?

And what types of projects were supported this time? Everything from a community center, urban gardening, sleuthing a lost bust of T. G. Masaryk and guided walks as a means of sharing local history.

For example, we supported a project in the small town of Bzenec in South Moravia that aims to create a multi-generational public space for a broad spectrum of local residents. The project team would like to develop a community garden and work together to expand residents’ skill sets and introduce artistic workshops to foster a creative, engaged atmosphere in the community. Over the long-term the team, which currently works with children, would like to expand its target group to include senior citizens and develop an open community focused on environmental issues and alternative cultural events.

In the town of Přílezy in the former Sudetenland in the Karlovy Vary region, the local chapter of the Czech Union of Nature Preservationists was awarded a grant for a project focusing on improving relations among residents and overcoming prevalent citizen passivity in regard to community affairs through a cemetery renovation effort. The town is in the former Sudetenland, which experienced massive migration of residents after WWII and resettlement by people from other parts of then Czechoslovakia. As a result, few current residents have roots in the area or feel a bond to the town’s historical values. The project aims to involve residents as volunteers in the renovation of the old German cemetery and church and set the groundwork for local integration through a series of cultural events and community discussions about the town’s future.

Did you know there is a place in Prague called “Library of Things” (LOT) that makes a wide variety of useful tools and objects – like backpacks, drills, toolboxes, guitars, tents, etc. – available to the public? The idea is to provide access to things people don’t use very often, which can be rented rather than owned. LOT wants to be more than just a rental shop, though – it seeks to develop a community center for customers, a place where they will want to spend time and will have opportunities to learn new things and meet new people. To date LOT has held 4 workshops attended by students and young people from across the city. LOT seeks to use this grant to focus on the neighborhood community and attract local residents. A new set of workshops will offer them DIY (Do-it-yourself) project learning and give them opportunities to get to know each other.

You can read descriptions of all 15 of the recently selected projects here: Living Communities projects third round Dec 2017.