“Ecostation” Waldsassen

Ecostation WS startet in 2002 as an environmental learning location, where people could find informations and details about contemporary ecological problems, e.g. sour rain, species extinction or climate change. It provided visitors with helpful information like the physics of weather, the life of bees and similar topics. It was a one-directional learning environment regarding the visitor only as a receptor of knowledge, or, if it were digital, one might have named it »school 1.0«.

In 2012 a new executive took over after the sudden death of the former one. Also a geo-ecologist, he transformed the Ecostation profoundly. His aim was not to educate people by providing information for individual learning processes, but involving visitors into the creation and mediation of practical? knowledge e.g. by interactive learning paths or projects. He also incorporated co-workers (students, jobless people, migrants, retired people) who were interested in the Ecostation to establish a common oevre in the sense of H. Lefebvre or R. Sennett: a commonly acquired knowledge about nature and environment which gives a ‚feedback‘ to its creators: self-esteem and shared wisdom. So it fulfilled the unlikely twofold process of individualisation and collectivization at the same time.


The main insights the new executive brought to the project were that you have to interact with nature or aspects of nature and the environment to learn the most and – decisive – to transform yourself . His aim was that the collaborators can re-adopt things once lost in the process of civilization: respect and practical understanding of the principles nature (the helpful effects of herbs for instance) which in part are the human ones, too. This practical involvement brings yourself in a ‚resonant‘ disposition to nature and your collaborators to learn about you and your concrete surrounding (social and natural). He achieved this social and individual integration by practicing or interacting with nature, which leads to a change of the self through practical work. This is not to discipline people or commit them to higher or abstract goals (as in the military service, monasteries, residential schools etc.) but enable them to more independence.


The project aims – besides the practical and aesthetical benefit of cultivating a garden – on autonomy both for the engaged people as well as for the executive, who’s ideas and activities are not generally accepted in the city. As he focussed on the integration of marginalised people in a periphery region which does not offer huge possibilities, he positioned himself and the whole project on the fringes of the social and political life, cutting or challenging traditional lines of power (parties, associations). Besides its general use for ecological practices he considers the Ecostation Waldsassen as a project of emancipation: for him from the local authorities, for the mates by fostering self-esteem of people in crisis. A side effect of the work with migrants is interculturality, which fosters exchange between locals and newcomers.