Conviviality and Sustainability

The context in which we work

The transformation processes in the region, which has continued for more than 25 years has led to different stages of the development of civil society and the creation of a welfare state and social security.

People and communities have also been confronted with political changes, which have promised new hope for the future, yet there are new and old challenges in each society. The process of change itself, as well as the emergence of new conflicts has raised questions about the direction of the democratisation processes in the whole region.

Furthermore, a look at the shifting boundaries of the map of Europe and awareness of the movements of people due to war and civil conflict, or for economic, social or environmental reasons, reveals a picture of the complex and changing diversity of origin of the people in any given locality.

Diaconal institutions and churches are also a part of these changes and the ensuing patterns and models of diaconia are very much shaped by culture, historical experience and memory, as well as by present conditions and challenges.

Problems & challenges faced, in terms of specific phenomena

The members of interdiac have prioritized the following phenomena, which should be addressed by learning processes that support local practice:

  • Unemployment, precarious work and poverty with several side effects.
  • Migration to other countries.
  • Growing homelessness, as housing has become more expensive and incomes have decreased.
  • Alcohol and substance abuse is rising, often linked to insecurity and lack of future.
  • Domestic violence has increased, in part due to the stress and identity threat of male long-term unemployment.
  • Wars and civil conflict and ‘frozen’ conflicts in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia and Moldova.
  • Mental illness of those who have survived or of those who live daily under the threat of violence.
  • Growing numbers of internally displaced people who move to other regions of country, or across a border, especially to bigger towns & cities. There is a need personal and practical support as well as counseling.

Diversity as a factor affecting the whole region

All the above mentioned phenomena, largely linked to the fast changing regional social, economic and political context, have in common the aspect of ‘DIVERSITY’ understood in terms of nation, race, ability, language, religion, culture and identity. 

We wish to highlight the fact that if ‘diversity’ is not adequately and properly handled, it creates visible and invisible borders that support processes of exclusion and prevent inclusion. This can also lead to repression, violence, and in some cases detention and torture. It has become clear that the consequences of these events and other ongoing threats continue to be an important challenge to human dignity, social justice and Diaconia.

Diaconia is rooted in congregational life and congregational life is rooted in community life!

With the background of these developments, interdiac has chosen to focus on ‘conviviality’ (‘Konvivenz’) as a key word. The origins of the word CONVIVIALITY lie in the historical period in Spain when Christians, Jews and Moslems lived relatively peacefully together, without civil conflict, until the end of the 15th century.

Conviviality refers to ‘the art and practice of living together’. The word was first used in the contemporary context by Ivan Illich to refer to the idea of creative relationships between people and people and their environment. He contrasted conviviality, which he saw as a free give and take between people as they create their own reality, to the mechanical and conditioned responses to demands made on people by others with power or to responses conditioned by preconceptions. Conviviality refers to the everyday interactions and practices of living together across diversity and without domination.

What are we aiming for?

The long term aim is to support diaconal practice which enables the ‘people and communities affected’ to participate in responding to the phenomena and issues identified by interdiac members, in a way which corresponds to their needs and is contextually grounded.

These empowering processes will extend to:

  • The personal and professional/vocational development of the participants: diaconal, pastoral or youth workers or long-term volunteers.
  • Supporting community development through dealing with social and economic issues in a collaborative way, which aims to support the creation of convivial communities.
  • Developing strategies for participating in processes of long-term change locally and on wider levels.

How the programme is designed?

There will be 3 international workshops in the partner countries of interdiac, including local study visits. Each workshop will last 6 days including travel days. 

Mentoring and a peer learning system for the period between the workshops will be implemented.

Self-directed reflective learning will be supported by the a use of: A Handbook for practice related learning and a Course Handbook, Spiritual Journal, Learning Diary, access to an on-line learning platform. 

Job shadowing in partner organisations: Each participant will be able to visit another organization for 7 days including travel days.

Who is invited to join the learning programme?

Social and diaconal workers, pedagogical workers, pastoral and youth workers in diaconal organisations, community centers and congregations involved in the process.

Volunteers and interns who want to gain new knowledge and competences, enhance their knowledge and competences and/or to continue studying social and diaconal work.

Duration of the programme

The programme runs from January 2018 until the end of June 2019 and includes three workshops and one visit for job shadowing.

Dates & Venue

9.4.-13.4.2018  Gyumri, Armenia 
19.11.-23.11.2018  Gussev, Russia
8.4.-12.4.2019   Tallinn, Etonia


International Academy for Diaconia and Social Action
Dukelská 264/5
737 01 Český Těšín - Czech Republic

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