Community Alphabet 23-24

Nadace Via
community leaders and practitioners in Central, Eastern & Southern Europe

Community Alphabet 23-24

CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS - Community Alphabet 23-24
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 a peer learning program in 2023-24 for community leaders and practitioners in Central, Eastern & Southern Europe who are interested in inclusive participatory processes. Through the program, they will 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.

The central focus of the program is each participant's community building project. Through their project, each participant can test community building ideas and practices such as identifying and mobilizing local skills, knowledge and other resources through asset-based community development (ABCD), participatory mapping, or other forms of dialogue with people in their communities. Participants' projects should involve relationship-building, engagement and collaboration based on the diverse skills and interests present in local communities with particular emphasis on helping residents connect with others outside of their own social circles.
The project can form part of a larger, pre-existing initiative, but the project itself must be flexible enough to be refined in reaction to ideas and approaches raised in the Community Alphabet program.

Examples of participant projects in the 2020-2022 pilot program include: developing a village museum and related activities to link long-term residents and newcomers around rural traditions; mapping diverse assets and connecting residents across a village; helping residents mobilize local resources to create a community school garden; and connecting active citizens across a city to share resources such as space, equipment, news, etc. and explore mini-collaborations.
As participants (“pax”) further develop and implement their projects, they will be supported by other participants in the program, the program's resource people and learning introduced through workshops, site visits and e-learning. Individual and peer reflection on each project, i.e. around field testing of community building ideas and practices, is a key part of the program, intended to harvest learning for each pax, the group and others in the broader practitioner community.
Pax and program staff will also collaboratively create a resource tool for active community-oriented citizens beyond the program.

Program vision
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.

Who should consider applying
In 2023-24, the program will work with a group of up to 18 pax from at least 5 countries1 with demonstrated interest and potential to assist others in and/or beyond their own communities. Pax may be:
Community development practitioners currently serving as supportive consultants or mentors to citizens involved in longer-term community development processes/initiatives in a specific, geographically defined locality.
Active residents currently engaged in longer-term community development processes in a given geographically-defined locality or who are interested in and demonstrate potential to develop their professional or volunteer activities in this direction.
Pax do not need to be affiliated with a registered NGO. Though the program is not designed for municipal employees or elected officials, they may be considered in exceptional cases.

What pax will gain and contribute to
- exposure to community building approachesthat are inclusive, participatory and asset-based and skills to help pax work within communities (mapping, trust-building, dealing with tensions/conflicts, etc.)
- engagement 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
- exploration of own role in community building and ways of approaching work with communities - testing of community building ideas and practices in pax communities
- development of a resource tool for additional community practitioners, leaders and citizens/citizen initiatives outside of the program

Program elements
- 3 workshops (each 2.5-3 days + travel, in Europe) focusing on asset-based approaches to community development, participatory mapping, trust-building practices, conflict analysis and responses to conflict, etc. and exchange of relevant skills, methods and experiences.
- site visits to innovative community building initiativesin Europe, including 1-2 multi-day site visits that are recommended but optional
- self-directed e-learning on asset-based community development
1Program outreach will concentrate on the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Austria and Spain but community development practitioners from other EU and Balkan countries are welcome to apply.
- field testing of community building ideas and practices, supported by peer reflection sessions - small grants to advance learning and work in program themes (EUR 500-1000/pax) - advisory/mentoring opportunities from relevant experts and practitioners
- co-development of a supportive resource tool for a wider group of community practitioners/leaders, including identification of case studies of inclusive community building in pax countries

Pax are expected to dedicate time and energy to designing and/or reviewing/reflecting on, refining and implementing their own community building project.
Pax are also expected to attend all workshops and take part in online sessions (min. 8.5 days plus travel in Europe) from June 2023 through summer/fall 2024 and dedicate time to the self-directed e-learning course (est. 2 days). Participation in multi-day site visits (total of 2-4 days) is optional. Proficiency in English is necessary, but fluency is not essential. Pax must bring a willingness to share and reflect about their own efforts with communities and, we hope, curiosity about other pax and their contexts.
Travel, accommodation and most dining costs are covered by the program. All other costs (visa, insurance, etc.) are the sole responsibility of the participants.

If you are intrigued by this learning opportunity, please consider applying!
Application and Selection
Please note that we are looking for people who:
- are actively engaged in/with a smaller, geographically defined community (city, town, village, micro-region). Those working at national level or solely with a 'community of interest' are not eligible.
- have previous experience engaging other people in community activities
- have a strong interest in expanding their understanding of how to bring diverse groups together for community purposes
- are willing and able to reflect on work individually and with peers
- are able to discuss program themes in English
- are able to commit the capacity required for the program from late spring 2023 through summer/fall 2024.
Who have a project that:
- engages multiple (different) groups in the community, consider overlooked groups or individuals - presents opportunities for trust-building, space for innovation and application of learning from the program
- expands the pax's learning/experience/skills
- does no harm to the community or individuals in it
- can be feasibly implement in whole or in part during the program timeframe - is managed by pax or in which she/he plays a central role (not out of his/her control)
To apply, please send the completed application form to The final deadline is Sunday, 28 May 2023 23:00, but we will be reviewing applications, conducting interviews and accepting pax on a rolling basis, so the sooner you apply the better.
The results of the selection process will be communicated to all applicants by Friday, 9 June 2023.

For more information or if you have questions, please contact Helen Lenda at

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