Bringing Bad Grund Back to Life

Every year, Green Destinations organizes the Top 100 Destination Sustainability Stories competition, which invites submissions from around the world – a vetted collection of stories spotlighting local and regional destinations that are making progress toward sustainable management of tourism and its impacts. This entry, submitted in 2021 from Germany, shows how a community rallied to create placemaking activities that enhance their town’s touristic appeal and stem outmigration.

Bad Grund town center. [Photo Courtesy of Bad Grund]

Submitted by Nikolai Simon-Hallensleben, Project Manager, Innenentwicklung der Bergstadt Bad Grund (Harz) 

Community Collaboration in Bad Grund, Germany, Revives the Destination 

Over the past few decades Bad Grund (Harz), a remote destination in the rugged Harz highlands of Lower Saxony, Germany, has been suffering from decreasing population levels. Officially recognised as a spa town since 1855, it lies in an open valley surrounded by deciduous and coniferous forests.The local economy had historically relied on the mining industry and on spa tourism, but when those industries collapsed, young generations started moving away. Between 1973 and 2021, Bad Grund (Harz) lost almost 40% of its population. Amongst other things, the decline in population meant that external investors were reluctant to provide much-needed capital to develop the destination.

In response, a group of Bad Grundners came together to tackle the decline of their mountain town. In autumn 2018, the group created the initiative ZukunftsBergstadt – ‘Future Mountain Town’. Over the past few years, the group has organised meetings and events for the local community to share their concerns and develop new ideas. 

Direct results of this collaboration include:

Cleaning day. [Photo Courtesy of Bad Grund]
  • Creating a maintenance group to regularly maintain the flower beds around the town, sow wildflower meadows, and ensure the town centre is clean.
  • Increasing the frequency of the Begegnungsmarkt – ‘Encounter Market’ – which now takes place once a month. The market features regional products and is a great place to gather and eat while listening to local music. 
  • Opening the Grundnerwohnzimmer  – ‘Grundner Living Room’ – every day, which has made it a place where locals can meet, talk, share ideas, swap books, and buy tableware, wool, and more. 
  • Planning to establish a cooperative which would operate out of a repurposed dilapidated vacant property in the center of Bad Grund. The plan is to renovate it this year and create a new gastronomic offering that features regional foods, which is greatly needed. 

Begegnungsmarkt – ‘Encounter Market’, [Photo courtesy of Bad Grund]
The success of the ZukunftsBergstadt has depended on the linkages between politics, the local administration, and the citizens of Bad Grund. The essential point is that the Bad Grunders have drafted the ideas for themselves. Thanks to the commitment of the ZukunftsBergstadt, it has been possible to draw attention to the potential of the mountain city, the region, and beyond. Through collaboration, this community has managed to re-create a sense of place, generate a strong sense of community, organize regular events, and essentially bring Bad Grund (Harz) back to life. 

Find the complete Good Practice Story from Bad Grund here

 

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