In 2022, thanks to our generous donors, Via Foundation supported 1,185 projects and initiatives led by active citizens, disbursing more than CZK 80 million ($ 3.6 million). Behind the numbers are the stories of civic associations, NGOs and people across the Czech Republic who are creating community gardens, organizing fundraisers, food festivals and neighborhood meetings, working to improve their neighborhoods or helping new neighbors from Ukraine. We supported nearly 500 projects improving Czech communities last year, and this year promises to be just as rich a harvest. We invite you to learn more about some of them.
Technological advances are crucial, but sometimes it’s rewarding to humbly return to the wisdom of our ancestors. How, for example, do you feel about the scythe? It’s a visible trend among the people and civic associations we support in regions beyond Prague. These are photos from Martinice, Mnichovice and Heřmankovice, where people are not afraid to take up a scythe instead of machine mowing. And why is that? Cutting meadows with a scythe at longer intervals than machine mowing can help protect endangered plant species, which have a chance to re-seed and flower, and also increase fauna biodiversity because different animals are attached to different plant species. It may even prevent injuries to animals that unfortunately occur with machine mowing.
In order to leave some areas as shelter for animals, food for insects and to keep some grass as a cooling element, a technique called mosaic mowing is used, where a part of the meadow s left uncut. If a meadow is not maintained for a long time, the less resistant and rare herbs (orchids, butterfly-orchids, wintergreens, etc.) disappear first and grasses take over. After a while, tree seedlings start to appear and in a few years the meadow becomes a forest.
Nature trail in Ptení
The Firefly Nature Trail in the village of Ptení in the Olomouc Region has become a popular destination for local residents and people from the greater surrounding area. Pavel Šnajdr, a member of a local civic association, and other residents decided to embellish the trail with additional wooden elements. The creative assortment includes an amazing tree house with a slide, a long zip line, a pipe slide and many other wooden elements. Visitors can also play chess or Ludo on table-size game boards along the trail.
The trail is a work in progress. Its creators have more plans that they would like to gradually carry out. The site, which was once a landfill, is thus being transformed by the efforts of the inhabitants of a small village into a beautiful place in nature, accessible to visitors of all ages. We supported this project in the project “We Can Do More Together” with support from Česká spořitelna bank.
Honey from Smíchov
The countryside is not the only place with active citizens – you can find them in Prague, too:) For example, at the Smíchov Community Centre
The Smichov Community Center puts on a lot of cultural events, hosts a cozy café, nice seating on the terrace and also rents event space. The center is housed in the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren and divides use of the building with the church congregation. The establishment of a community center in the church building follows on a tradition: the church served as a cultural centre during the First Czechoslovak Republic in the interwar period, when it operated a theatre, cinema and library.
The Smichov Community Center applied for a Via grant to create a community garden on the unused roof terrace of the church and connect the project with urban beekeeping. The center held many work parties involving many volunteers, including children from a nearby school, to prepare the site so that local residents could start growing vegetables in planting beds and pollinating the bees.
Since it opened in the spring of 2022, the community center has been steadily gaining visitors, bringing together people of various ages and social groups. Children and students from the surrounding schools visit the center, as well as senior citizens from the Smíchov district. Local Roma residents come here, Ukrainian refugee children are supported, and people recovering from addictions help out with neighborhood activities. On Fridays residents can attend the center’s summer outdoor cinema, on Saturdays a concert, and on Sundays a church service – it seems to be a place of unlimited possibilities. We supported the community centre in cooperation with Hornbach.
Restaurant Day and a park for relaxing
For the second year now, we have been supporting neighborhood projects with Kaufland Czech Republic in Čestlice and the surrounding villages. In 2022, we supported several civic associations in Uhříněvs-Kolovraty.
For 8 years now, the U Boudů Club has organized neighborhood events such as harvest festivals, fairs and other events. Another local organization, the sOOva club, runs a garden. Last autumn, the club organized a Restaurant Day with a flea market, revitalized the access road to the garden to drain rainwater, restored the railings around the pond, fenced off the compost heap and built a roof over the newly built clay oven. And on Earth Day in the spring, they held a bee-themed event. Members of the Salesian Youth Movement, another local group, built a gazebo in the parish garden, which now serves as a much-needed meeting place and a venue for various events.
The world is not black and white
You don’t have to be an adult to accomplish great things! Through our Young Philanthropists program, we support children and students who want to help others and improve their communities. For example, boys and girls from an elementary school in Přerov decided to create a connection between the different worlds of children in a socially excluded area and students at a local art and music community school. They invited them to work together on a project called “The world is not black and white” beautifying a rundown wall in Škodova Street leading to the local railway station.
Children from the two areas worked over multiple days to create a mural that is several meters long. The atmosphere was full of energy, enthusiasm and most importantly creativity and artistic talent. The mural begins on the left side with paintings in black and white shades and gradually adds colors in each painting as it progresses to the right. It culminates with a painting of a large colorful globe.