Balow, Mecklenburg-Hither Pomerania, Germany

The municipality Balow is located approximately 50 km to the south-west of the state capital Schwerin and has a population of 336, 25% of which are adolescents. The distance to the official residence is about 12km, to the district capital Parchim about 30 km. The municipality can easily be reached via the autobahn A 24 Hamburg-Berlin.

The former manorial village was Headquarter of the Agricultural Production Cooperative between 1960 and 1989/90 and is considered a structurally weak area. The churn rate is set around 90%. The sustenance of its inhabitants is ensured via mobile establishments, resulting in “Balowers” describing their situation as “being supplied more efficiently than some inhabitants of small towns”. In 2010 Balow was initiator, host and active participant of a leader-workshop concerning public services.

The village development began in 1998 under professional and scientific guidance. More than 40 projects, developed in “future workshops”, have been realized with considerable participation of the inhabitants and local clubs. Between 1998 and 2000, the municipality was a project village of the federal model project “A village for children – a village for all”, which remains the guiding principle of the municipality until today. Projects and investments are consciously planned with a focus on economic sustainability an are evalariyuated every five years. Generally it is the goal to sustain communal institutions created through grants without requiring further subsidies.

In the spirit of ecological sustainability, all public ad communal establishments are subject to a heat insulation regulation. In the core of the village there are no new constructions, but only reutilization and reconstruction objects. The primary school within the former manor house as well as the culture and communication center within the former horse stables were restored and revitalised with great care and small means.

The area around Balow are cultivated professionally by the Balow & Möllenbecker Landerzeuger GmbH. For certain parts of the greenland extensive farming is stipulated. The fiscal revenue of the municipality, however, are fairly limited as the location of the Landerzeuger GmbH is situated in the neighbouring village Dambeck.

Including children and adolescents in active municipality life is the highest priority in Balow. The children and youth council which was founded during the project “A village for children – a village for all” continues to qualify its work. Its voice has importance within the local council and its suggestions have considerable impact on all decisions concerning village development. Other municipalities in the region followed this path and also established children and youth councils.

The actions of all generations for and with each other as well as the lived family-friendliness convey comfort to the inhabitants. To maintain this feeling, a village community center was established as an umbrella association for the seven local clubs and initiatives. It also serves as coordinator for voluntary work. The various offers of the associations for all generations make life in the village attractive and strengthen the identification process.

The municipality Balow is not only active within its own borders, but is also involved in regional and transregional initiatives, activities and associations. With its confident and responsible appearance, Balow radiates attractiveness that even lead to some former residents to return to the municipality. Blow offers a high quality of living for all its inhabitants, old or new; because communal structures are consciously maintained and adapted to meet new demands, because its needs and limits are clear, because public funds are used sustainably and multiplied through voluntary efforts – efforts encouraged through various ways of support and social recognition. In summary: The “Barlow Way” is headed towards the future!

Evaluated: 2012