Jützenbach, Thuringia, Germany

The municipality Jützenbach is located in the heart of Germany at the “green belt”, the former inner-German border line. It has had an almost constant number of 570 inhabitants during the past twelve years, while population figures have decreased by 7% in the district of Eichsfeld. The locality is characterized by the surrounding woodlands, carefully maintained houses and old style timber-framed houses as well as the social community with a marked religious orientation. Even in times of communism, the locality remained a catholic enclave and the faith was the basis for resistance against the regime.

Already before the fall of communism, Jützenbach lived the motto “new energy for a strong community” and has put even more effort in implementing it after the two Germanies re-united. The development is focused on sustainability and its main objective is the creation of a future-orientated locality with a children and family friendly environment. The development of soft tourism, especially in connection with the ecologically valuable “green belt”, is actively encouraged. About 90% of the citizens commute to work and almost all of them find employment.

The Flur, a varied landscape between the green land and the fields, has been marked as a disadvantaged area. In addition to one agricultural corporation, there are three part-time farms. In 1999, a clean-up process for some 1,400 ha of green land has been started, envisioning especially the natural extension of the streams, organized property claims and a modern development of the land. Part of the municipality is located on the Fauna-Flora-Habitat area, home to uncommon animals like bats, wild cats and breeding ground for the black stork.

The population is very committed to the village design, strengthening the sense of community. Historic buildings and places are very often renewed by the locals in their own time and are then used as places of encounter. Examples are the newly refurbished village green and the community house in the former cigar plant, which also includes the mayor’s office and an intercommunal pre-school, furthering the sense of community within the region. The fire station, where training programs and exercises of the youth fire brigade take place on a regular base, has been remodeled in many hours of voluntary work. The former school building, next to the church, is now a little shop connected to a butcher. This way, shopping can be done on the way to church. The local pub could be maintained as a place of encounter and communication. In view of the development of the settlement, the municipality focuses on the re-use of historic building substances and filling up of structural holes in the heart of the locality. In order to meet the demand for residences in full, new lots were added at the fringes of the village.

“Gender mainstreaming in village renewal” is important for the state of Thüringen, and Jützenbach has been selected for a pilot project to that end. The so acquired knowledge and results in the sense of equal opportunities of genders are then implemented across the whole state.

Jützenbach stands out due to for its exemplary renewal and sustainable use of old buildings worth protecting, the promotion of communication within the locality and the high level of commitment on part of the citizens in terms of the development as a high-quality residential place.

Evaluated: 2010