Power for the province

Helping to shape villages and small towns

TV premiere: Saturday, 25th of November, 17:35 CET

as of now: ZDF Mediathek

What can villages and small towns do to become more attractive again so that more people dare to move and those who are still there stay? Securing medical care, improving the quality of life, awakening interest in helping to shape the future: this is how it can be done.
Anja Fehre and Susann Seifert have launched the Stadtmensch initiative in Altenburg, Thuringia, which supports the population in implementing their own ideas for a place worth living in: from a small raised bed in the town centre to an open studio and a mobile games café to a historic pergola garden – many things are possible. “Through the positive experience of co-creation, people realise that they are a valuable part of society. And if the local atmosphere is good, then people will stay,” says Fehre.

In France, a quarter of the population has to travel long distances to receive medical treatment. There is a shortage of over 6,000 doctors in the countryside. Martial Jardel has therefore launched a project together with a citizens’ initiative to improve medical care and thus the quality of life in the province. The idea is that the doctors do not have to set up permanently, but alternate on a weekly basis. “People thought we were crazy at first, but we proved that it works,” says Jardel. Since October 2022, many “Médecins Solidaires” – doctors in solidarity – have been running a practice together in the village of Ajain – successfully providing over 3,000 treatments. In June 2023, the second centre was opened 40 kilometres away.

Mayor Annika Popp has set up a Future Council in her Bavarian municipality of Leupoldsgrün. The colourful mix of randomly selected citizens are to develop new ideas to improve their living situation in the town. And they are implementing the results together: a flowering meadow, a community app, hiking trail signposting and the reopening of the village shop. “For us as a municipality, it’s often not a lack of money, but a lack of staff. Thanks to the Future Council, we were able to recruit many new volunteers. This is a great added value and success for Leupoldsgrün,” says a delighted Popp. 

Life in the countryside can become more attractive again.