The New Patrons of Steinhöfel

Patrons: Steffen Adam, Regina Funke, Jane Gersdorf, Annegret Huth, Mela Meierhans, Kerstin Neitsch, Beatrix Oppermann, Hannegret Richter

Mediators: Sophia Trollmann (bis 2021), Lena Ziese

Artists: ConstructLab, Rimini Protokoll

Duration: 2019 ongoing

Partners: Kulturstiftung des Bundes, Fondation de France, Fonds Soziokultur

Everyone gets older. But that's nothing people like to talk about. The New Patrons of Steinhöfel are certain: the challenges that ageing in the countryside brings with it are existential and affect everyone.

They want to connect the people from the Steinhöfel community's twelve villages closer with an artistic project about getting older together. In collaboration with the authors' collective Rimini Protokoll and the design and architecture network ConstructLab, they want to strengthen the possibilities for action and the sense of community for a self-determined ageing in the countryside.

Good ways of growing older together

The art project is to span between the villages of Steinhöfel. Within the framework of the project, the villages of the community will therefore become narrators for each other. By exchanging stories, grown connections become visible again, which have been forgotten due to restructuring, or new bonds are formed where there have never been any before.

The rediscovery and invention of commonalities and the resulting artistic impulses on site should provide the framework for sustainable activities of their own in the long term, in which the people of the community support each other as they grow older.

An old black and white photograph from Steinhöfel shows three old people sitting on a bench in the village. They are in the centre, visible, approachable. The past scene is also the image of a possible future. Shared histories of the community become the basis for a common future.

In a dialogue between the twelve villages of the Steinhöfel community, we want to find new ways to support each other in getting older.

For the research phase of the project, Rimini Protokoll and ConstructLab have started to visit the villages of Steinhöfel. They asked about the simplest stories that people from different generations pass on to each other - and about the recipes with which they master their lives every day, but also for the best cheesecake or onion soup. These village recipes were published every month for a year in the community newspaper and are available online: They were the reason for a village recipe festival in summer 2021 and are the material basis for further project steps in Steinhöfel.

A New Patron of Steinhöfel holding a dish and a tea in her hands
Photo: Victoria Tomaschko
New Patron of Steinhöfel Regina Funke presents her village recipe on a large signboard

New Patron Regina Funke during the "Dorfrezepte" presentation

Photo: Victoria Tomaschko
Steinhöfel's New Patron Hannegret Richter speaks in a radio interview

New Patron Hannegret Richter on air

Photo: Victoria Tomaschko
Postcard for collecting village recipes from Steinhöfel

Postcard design for collecting "Dorfrezepte" (village recipes)

In the summer of 2022, the new patrons of Steinhöfel, together with ConstructLab, achieved a next big step: for 14 days, they spent time on the village green in Hasenfelde and Heinersdorf screwdriving, sawing, sewing, cooking and discussing. The result is the Kistenflitzer, a mobile and multifunctional meeting place for the villages of the community. As an electrically assisted trailer, it fits on any bicycle. A modular system of boxes sets no limits to its possible uses. There is already a sports box, a cinema box, a cocktail bar box, a regional box and a church box.

A resident and a child prepare a stand at the Steinhöfel building workshop.

Construction workshop

Photo: Victoria Tomaschko
A person from The New Patrons of Steinhöfel stands in front of the Kistenflitzer holding village coat of arms in his hands

Kistenflitzer and village coat of arms

Photo: Victoria Tomaschko
Several persons of The New Patrons of Steinhöfel hold a large banner in their hands.
Photo: Victoria Tomaschko

For the design of the mobile meeting place, stories from the villages were collected and woven together with the village chroniclers. The result is an eye-catching vehicle that refers to the geography and the coats of arms of the villages in the municipality.

To grow old together means to share everyday life: With the Kistenflitzer and the workshops, the new patrons of Steinhöfel have created new moments of community: whether playing skat together at the newly established weekly Dorfanger meeting or building the Kistenflitzer together, there will be many opportunities to engage with growing old in community in the further course of the project. When it comes to describing places in a new way, Rimini Protokoll will start there.