Thier, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Thier with its 1,600 inhabitants is located about 45 km to the north-east of Cologne in the nature reserve Bergisches Land in a typical mountainous region. Thier is one of eight incorporated church villages of the Hanseatic town Wipperfürth. Because of the high annual precipitation of about 1,200 l per m ² the agriculture is marked primarily by grassland and dairy farming. Eleven main companies and nine supplementary income companies with a total of 32 employees must work very carefully, because they are located on several water protection areas.

The settlement possibilities are strongly limited on account of the mentioned water protection areas. Several historical objects in the centre were renovated, the considerate con-struction of new buildings with a strong concern for the material choice and the scale is of impressively high quality.

The activities to secure local supply and location-appropriate workplaces are noteworthy. The citizens have founded the Their village store society (approx. 200 members) which successfully leads the village store and a small café. Also notable is the enormous selection of local products within the village store, which is accepted by the population. Thier has managed to implement timely infrastructural facilities excellently. Since Thier has no own management and the church withdrew from the municipality, the citizens have taken charge themselves. For example, an out-of-use farm was altered into a centre for people with disabilities with 60 jobs. The former school became a multifunctional meeting centre.

Community, neighborhood and caring for the cultural asset have a high value. The active association life with engaged members leads to a perceptible strengthening of the identity: „Wir leben (T)hier“ (this means: we live here) is not only motto of the village, but also lived by the people. The citizens are involved with a lot of enthusiasm and commitment in the planning as well as in the implementation. The village community is characterized by its great openness, especially in dealing with people with disabilities.

Despite the dependence on the Hanseatic town Wipperfürth, which is responsible for the development of concepts and strategic panning, the region has successfully developed its economics – full time employment and work places of high quality prove this.

The citizens of Thier successfully implement projects and aim for holistic visions as well as communal development. During the development of guiding concepts, the people rely greatly on the support and competence of external experts. The frequent participation in village competitions within Germany has lead to a stronger identification as well as a need for more self determination. The well organized honorary office works more and more on public issues, which helps keep many competences and facilities within the village – against the general trend.

Evaluated: 2014