A Small Town’s Dialogue with Civil Society

Stadt­men­sch should empow­er peo­ple to take the ini­tia­tive and imple­ment their own project ideas. Var­i­ous instru­ments have been devel­oped for this pur­pose: There is the Stadt­men­sch Acad­e­my and Think Tank, which offers exchange, advice and edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties on top­ics such as con­cept devel­op­ment, project man­age­ment and pub­lic rela­tions to help peo­ple set up their own busi­ness­es. The Stadt­men­sch-Fonds sup­ports ini­tia­tives. © Jens Paul Taubert

The small town of Altenburg in Thuringia is shrink­ing. Since the 1980s, the pop­u­la­tion has declined by over 40%. Numer­ous indi­vid­u­als and ini­tia­tives have there­fore been active for sev­er­al years. They want to coun­ter­act the down­beat atmos­phere. The coop­er­a­tion of var­i­ous ini­tia­tives, sup­port asso­ci­a­tions, and cul­tur­al institutions—Stadtmensch—is sup­port­ed by a pro­gram under the Nation­al Urban Devel­op­ment Pol­i­cy and work­ing on pur­pose­ful­ly expand­ing exist­ing mod­els for the co-pro­duced city. In con­crete terms, the aim is for civ­il soci­ety to assume respon­si­bil­i­ty for pub­lic indoor and out­door spaces. Calls for ideas bring forth projects, the imple­men­ta­tion and pro­mo­tion of which are decid­ed upon by locals through var­i­ous pro­ce­dures. An impor­tant cri­te­ri­on: the projects should serve the com­mon good.

Link to Audio guide




Erlebe was geht gGmbH, respon­si­ble body; Fed­er­al Min­istry of the Inte­ri­or, Build­ing and Com­mu­ni­ty, co-financing


Since 2018


Altenburg, Ger­many

How best to dis­trib­ute fund­ing? »Stadt­men­sch« try a vari­ety of meth­ods. Some­times darts are thrown on a city map, some­times projects wor­thy of sup­port are select­ed through a mul­ti-stage process. © Stadtmensch
Var­i­ous actions in pub­lic space are intend­ed to encour­age more peo­ple to get involved and revi­tal­ize pre­vi­ous­ly unused places in the city. Here: the audi­ence of a radio play instal­la­tion in the con­text of the sec­ond Mit­Mach­Markt. In addi­tion to the Mit­Mach­Markt, there is the Stadt­men­sch-Fes­ti­val, a bazaar on Altenburg’s his­toric mar­ket square, where the numer­ous ini­tia­tives from the fields of art and pol­i­tics, sports and the envi­ron­ment, social affairs and cul­ture can meet and exchange ideas. © Anja Fehre