This article describes the effort of local villages in Germany to provide their own heat through local renewable resources. And, wonderfully, it stresses that the effort combines the twin achievements of saving money and retaining local cohesion. These two aims – contra most contemporary economists who can only endorse a “Wal-Mart” model – are not in contradiction.

Confirmation that the cities can learn from the hayseeds, and that America can learn from “Old Europe.” Efforts such as these – so often going on beneath the radar of many contemporary American observers of Europe – confirm my observations of several years ago that there is a great deal of healthy communal life still vibrant outside the more visited city-centers of Europe.


  1. There are several communities inside the US that have undertaken similar initiatives. The ones I know of are located in Vermont and Maine. One of these communities, the name and location of which now escapes me, was featured on the long-running PBS show This Old House several years ago.

    Having spent the last two years living in a small farming community in the French speaking part of Switzerland, I can second your observations on communal life in Europe. In fact, I’m of the opinion that community is far more important to the average European than it is to her American counterpart. For example, the village in which we live has numerous festivals, traditions, and ways of doing things that have been in place for hundreds of years. Any changes to the community seem to be adopted only after careful consideration of the potential consequences.

    Finally, I suspect we could learn much from “Old Europe” if we are willing to put our pride and preconceived notions aside long enough to listen. One of the things about FPR that has frequently annoyed me since I began reading it on a regular basis, is the tendency of some contributors and commentators to blindly believe and propagate what are now tired stereotypes about a decadent and immoral Europe.

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