How can we build trust and inclusivity in our communities today? How can we invite people from across the community, people with different lived experience and/or divergent views, to engage in dialogue and citizen-led action? How can we help neighbors open up to one another despite their differences?

Community Alphabet is an international long-term peer learning program for community leaders and practitioners in Central, Eastern & Southern Europe who are interested in inclusive participatory processes. Through the program, they deepen their knowledge, build skills and reflect on their practice together. The program is based on learning by doing and individual and peer reflection on practice. 

We are now accepting applications for the 2023-24 Community Alphabet program. The program is for community practitioners and leaders who are interested in connecting diverse groups of residents and learning and reflecting on their work with peers from other European countries. If you are interested, please read the Call for pax and to receive the program timeline and application form, please contact Helen Lenda at The application deadline is 31 March 2023.


Disheartened by the multiple stresses that societies face today such as economic disparities and economic struggles for many, climate change impacts, political polarization, populist authoritarianism, social isolation and war, many people turn to their closest environment – their neighborhood, district or village – to find sure footing. But even at local levels, it can be challenging to bridge differences in views and experience. Increasingly, it seems, people are fragmented into narrow social bubbles that afford little interaction with divergent viewpoints. When citizens cease to exchange opinions and discuss their differences, when there is little motivation to find shared aspirations amidst those differences, social cohesion becomes strained and fragile.

Community practitioners – people who are supporting local citizen-led action – are in a unique position to help local communities search for common ground, increase social trust and work with divergent views.


Through the 2020-2022 Community Alphabet pilot program, we guided 26 community development practitioners and program managers from three non-profit organizations from Serbia, Hungary and the Czech Republic (TRAG Fondacija, Via Foundation and Közösségfejlesztők Egyesület – Köfe/Hungarian Association for Community Development) in advancing their knowledge and skills around inclusive community building, participatory mapping, resilience and conflict/tension transformation.

The pilot program included online and in-person workshops, a site visit, peer exchange and support and staff guidance to participants as they applied the learning to their practice. The pilot program participants are incorporating the ABCD approach, mapping and conflict/tension analysis into their support of communities through e.g.:

  • Asset mapping in a village, which then enabled quick mobilization of resources to help Ukrainian refugees
  • Development of a network of community leaders across a city to share knowledge, contacts and equipment
  • Mobilization of local assets in a community school garden project, which was so successful that an external grant remained unspent and citizens continued to think of solutions using their own resources
  • Mapping to identify resources and create a sense of belonging in a village museum project
  • UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) Czechia creation of podcast about migrant integration based on the ABCD approach of identifying and appreciating local resources
  • Use of ABCD principles in Agency for Social Inclusion – Via supported projects in socially excluded localities in the Czech Republic


We seek to help ensure that community initiatives in Central, Eastern & Southern Europe have the knowledge, tools and support to confidently pursue inclusive participatory processes with communities so that they can, over the longer-term, play a meaningful role in developing places where:

  • people with different opinions and lifestyles work towards shared community goals in an environment of listening, trust, respect and mutual recognition,
  • people thrive on a shared yet inclusive identity and strong sense of belonging,
  • people enhance the community through use of local skills and resources,
  • and people assume shared responsibility.


Through the program, participants:

  • are exposed to community building approaches that are inclusive, participatory and asset-based and skills to help pax work within communities (mapping, trust-building, dealing with tensions/conflicts, etc.)
  • engage with other people doing community building across Europe for support, including national, regional and/or cross-country interaction to further pax projects and/or pursue common interests
  • explore their own role in community building and ways of approaching work with communities
  • test community building ideas and practices in pax communities
  • develop a resource tool for additional community practitioners, leaders and citizens/citizen initiatives outside of the program


We invite you to read some of the materials produced within the program:


Community Alphabet follows on Via’s previous international program, ViabilityNet 3.0, which supported community leaders and organizations in the CEE region from 2016 to 2019 through grants and learning. 

To learn more about ViabilityNet 3.0’s impact on participants and one of the participant’s communities, see the following case studies: