Helping others and caring for the surrounding environment are natural and spontaneous reactions in communities, towns, and cities that have been stirred to active community life.
Under 40 years of communism, this simply was not possible. Where once active nonprofit organizations worked to meet the needs of their communities, the communist government confiscated nonprofit assets and restricted all private initiative. To exert control, the government forced individuals to become dependent upon the state – the government, communists asserted, would take care of all needs. Nonprofit organizations were simply viewed as too dangerous to communist authority to be allowed to exist.
Since the fall of communism, the nonprofit environment in the Czech Republic has been reborn. Today, the Czech Republic is once again witness to individuals working together for the betterment of their community. The concept of private action for public good is once again seen as necessary in the establishment of a healthy community.
For this reason, the Via Foundation financially supports publicly beneficial projects that have been developed on the initiative of and in cooperation with local nonprofit organizations and local residents. This can include the revitalization of public spaces, nourishing youth assisting an at-risk group in the community, or support for effective, successful charity. All of which serve to strengthen and preserve the bonds of community that are necessary to a healthy society.
To support Via’s Environmental Program, please click on “Donate Now” and type “Community Development” in the Designation Field.
Strmilov is a small town of 1,445 residents in southern Bohemia. Teenagers in the town wanted a dirt bike park and a pars fitness course; VIA provided the tools to plan, design and build it.
My Activity is a civic association whose main priority is providing quality free time activities for adults, youth and children in the Prague 3 area. My Activity was awarded a grant in VIA’s “The Community in Which We Live” program to engage the broader community in a planning and design process for part of the association’s property.
In 2012, two young landscape architects led neighbors in revitalization of Lázenské náměstí in Mikulov. This public square had been one hub of the local Jewish community up until WWII and includes the traditional mikva baths.
In 1998, the municipality of Nové Sedlice separated from the Štítina village. The football field and its surroundings is the only public space in the municipality. The new local authority’s goal is to improve the atmosphere and interpersonal relations in the village through open communication and collaboration between the local authority and citizens with the local societies. Therefore, it was very important for the municipality to start community planning, involving the citizens in the decision-making concerning the future development of their village.
The main purpose of the Embellishing Society for Nadějkov and its Neighbourhood is, among other things, to smarten up the region and to protect the environment. All the activities are done with the effort to involve the general public: the citizens are drawn into active decision-making and collaboration. This hold true also in the project of transformation of the presbytery garden located between the church and the presbytery in the western part or the square in the middle of the South-Bohemian village of Nadějkov.
The municipality of Francova Lhota is located in the Senice river valley in the western part of Javorník, at the border with the Slovak Republic. Several non-profit organizations and societies are active in the village, making the social life rather colourful. These societies make it possible for the local citizens to collaborate well with the municipality. Owing to the new “Oasis of Piece”, a project took place in Francova Lhota that involved the local public in the municipality development. The locals built a relax zone near the community house, which acquired the name “Špuntov” during the project implementation.
The renovation of the park before the building of the Vocational School in Plasy is the logical result of the efforts to follow the recent history of the place. The school building near the plot is built in functionalistic style of the 1930’, the park with its potential to become the natural centre of one of the municipality quarters was hitherto unused. The Academic Top (Akademický vršíček) citizen association, active at the school, organizes the students’ parents, former students and teachers, who gladly assisted in the renovation of the park and its transformation to a community and relaxation spot in Plasy.
In the past, a small pub was closed in the Chříč municipality, leaving the local village square with the park the only place for gatherings and cultural and community events organizing. The square, located in the very centre of the village, acquired its unflattering image in the 1970’ during the event “the village catches up with the town”. The original picturesque village square was formed by a big pond with greenery, old pub and several weekenders’ cottages; then, the community house replaced the pub, which, on being finished, proved to be too big and was never properly used.
This project aims to promote public interest in literature and highlight the past and present of Brno City with the "site specific" bookcases placed by important places of the city.
Local people stood up to the idea of dumping hundreds of thousands tons of dangerous material called OTOSAN 2 to a pit very near residential area.
Through the collection of signatures, the Brnění Civic Association has registered a public representative to represent public interests in the urban planning process of Brno.
Cultural Heritage Does Not Stand Still
The former Sudetenland is an area with a turbulent history of expulsion, resettlement, and uprooted families. Traditions, customs and bonds to the land were replaced by insensitivity, systematic plundering, and apathy. Memory was erased and the formerly self-supporting and vital border area was forgotten.
Creativity is also a Dialogue
These days, we seem to continually hear the word “dialogue” leaping at us from newspapers, resounding from television, and reverberating in the speeches of politicians. They all speak about the need for dialogue in the family, between nations, religions, across social and ethnic groups. The dictionary defines “dialogue” as a conversation between two or more people, from the Greek “dia logos” meaning through words, talk. Dialogue is a bridge by which you can reach a different world – people who enter into a dialogue should not only understand each other, but should also be mutually offering something – information, advice, inspiration – in return.
After the fall of communism, the small town of Katovice experienced a renaissance in community life. With new freedoms, residents renewed traditions nonexistent under communism: neighbors met for Christmas caroling; a theater group was established; neighbors joined to hold community Easter celebrations. As residents embraced newly available possibilities, Katovice became home to numerous community associations.
A book lies on the table. On its cover is a studio photograph taken more than ninety years ago. A young man in uniform stares stoically into the camera lens, though his eyes betray a glimmer of youthful pride. On the corner of the photograph is written simply the words: “Died in battle in Italy, November 1, 1916, age 19 ½.”
This is how Jan Karafiát’s classic children’s book, “The Little Bugs,” begins. A book that was read back when there were still horse drawn carriages in the streets, planes had not yet begun to fly and telephones had not yet been invented. Time moves on and now children are caught up in their mobile telephones, computers and televisions, while the allure of nature take a backseat.
A half kilometer past the village of Svûtví through the Terãino Valley Park, you will discover the Cuknštejn Fort perched on a small hill above the Stropnice River. Although now accessible only by foot, this 15th century structure was almost continually inhabited for over 400 years. Following World War II, the Fort was deserted, forgotten by all but local residents, and fell into disrepair.
The Volunteer Fire Brigade in Turkovice has twenty members and responds to several dozen emergencies each year. Each firefighter routinely puts his or her life at risk to help others in need – and this with no compensation other than pride in serving their community. Despite their exemplary record and the gratitude of local residents, those that answer the calls of help faced an emergency of their own: the Turkovice Fire Brigade’s ability to protect their community was endangered by the dilapidated state of their sole fire engine.
Following World War II, the small town of Broumov became a near-ghost town virtually overnight. Of the town’s prewar population of just over 23,000 people, 22,000 were forcibly displaced. This essentially destroyed that which war had not: the displacement of 95% of Broumov’s residents severed nearly all community life, a legacy Broumov’s current population of 8000 is struggling to overcome.
Walking into the room, the first thing that we saw were colorful drawings showing swing sets, merry-go-rounds, dozens of v-shaped birds in the air, and on one, something that looked curiously like an igloo.
Of Unhošťs 3,500 inhabitants, almost 1,000 are children. With so many children in the town, three local mothers – Marcela Jurková, Lenka Jansová and Monika Beličková – were frustrated that the town had no safe and clean space for kids to play. Instead of simply complaining about the problem, the three women decided to take action.
Lužná consists of two districts about one kilometer apart. Though that distance may seem small, as town residents admit, there was no real sense of unity between the two parts of the village.