A growing community in Southern Germany
For the last two weeks I have been a guest helper and researcher in the “Zukunftswerkstatt” (laboratory of the future) Community Schloss Tempelhof.
Among the communities that I am visiting for my field study, Tempelhof is the youngest. One of my main objectives is to find out what are the processes that help people to find together – and more importantly: to stay together.
I am very impressed by all the structures, organizational settings and process work that have been established here in merely 7 years.
Before they moved here, a dedicated group of 20 people from Munich coming from all walks of life were working for three years on a vision of an ecologically sustainable, socially just and meaningful human form of life. A preparatory time with community building processes, visits of existing intentional communities (to find out what works and what doesn’t) and many discussions and considerations took place, before they eventually in 2010 found the ideal place to bring their vision into being.
Tempelhof, a small village in the beautiful area near Schwäbisch Hall, used to be a former children’s home with many buildings and facilities, with building terrain and sufficient farm land.
The primary project group expanded very fast into a community of currently 145 people (110 adults and 35 children and youngsters). The pioneers were mainly seasoned grown-ups with a lot of life experience. The next wave consisted of people that were in situations of change and able to move in short term. Most of the families followed later, when the living situation became more stable.
To my knowledge, Tempelhof is the only project that had so many residential and functional buildings to start with, a real stroke of luck, or let’s say: a wonderful synchronicity.
As people in different ages and life situations have different needs, the structures, procedures and developments have to be adapted and always newly discussed and agreed upon. So here, as in all communities I have visited so far, it is a work in progress with ongoing community building processes.
Tempelhof attracts also people that are well established in society: business men and women, respected intellectuals and well settled families with good income. That might be because money is valued here as a form of energy you can use for good things and which can set positive developments in motion.
In order to protect the property from any future real estate speculations, the founders installed a very clever legal construct. The ground is owned by the non-profit Schloss Tempelhof foundation and given with a leasehold to the cooperative Schloss Tempelhof for 99 years. In this way the land is secure and detracted from the market. Every member of the cooperative has the same right to vote independent of the height of his/her deposit, so this is a very good organization form for solidarity businesses. An association was founded additionally to support and promote projects and initiatives, serving the common good.
The community in Tempelhof is basically self-sufficient in the growth season. All the vegetables etc. come from their own agriculture. In winter some salad and fruit from ecological producers has to be bought additionally. The main kitchen prepares great dishes for the community and seminars, everyday from 70 to 200 meals, they can also be booked for delicious caterings.
When the weather is fine, meals are taken in the court yard of the castle, next to the current canteen.