Community Alphabet Program

Our blog articles typically focus on collaborative community projects. But that isn’t the only thing Via supports. In this article, Via staff members Klára Dušková and Helena Masníková give us a brief glimpse into Via’s Community Alphabet program.

Report from Budapest
Since September, we (Klára and Helena) have been part of the Czech group engaged in Via’s international capacity building program, called Community Alphabet. Along with Czech community development practitioners and leaders who work with Via and our Serbian and Hungarian counterparts, we have been exploring ABCD, which is short for Asset Based Community Development. It is a community development approach based on identifying and using local resources that is neatly described by the motto “focus on what’s strong, not what’s wrong”. We find this approach very appealing because it means adopting a positive outlook to communities and developing their potential. And that sums Via Foundation’s approach quite precisely.

Although most of the Community Alphabet workshops have taken place online, we all managed to meet in person in Budapest in late November. Altogether there were 24 foundation staff, community development practitioners and community leaders from the Czech Republic, Serbia and Hungary.

We packed a lot into 4+ amazing days! We learned about participatory mapping techniques from Lenka Dušková from Palacky University in Olomouc, explored our ABCD questions in an online session with Cormac Russell, one of the leading ABCD practitioners in Europe, and learned about how one Hungarian community foundation engaged its multi-cultural citizens through interviews and cultural exchange programming. We also considered our ideal community in small groups and analyzed approaches to specific community development situations through case study presentations by our Hungarian colleagues.

Fortunately there was also time during coffee breaks, lunch and dinner to get to know our Serbian and Hungarian counterparts better and exchange contacts. We also had a chance to try a few Hungarian specialties on our evenings out.

Community Alphabet is not just about learning new things – it’s about using what we learn to support communities better. Towards the end of our stay we advanced our thinking about how we are going to use the learning – at Via and in specific communities that we support. For starters, we plan on introducing the key ideas to the rest of the Via team and to our applicants and grantees.

In 2022 we will continue to meet and learn with our Serbian and Hungarian colleagues, and further develop our ideas for sharing ABCD and mapping approaches with Czech communities. We hope to bring you more news then!