A special idyll

Chickens cackle, a cock struts around, tomatoes and courgettes sprout – the perfect rural idyll. However, it is not located in a village, but in the middle of Stuttgart-Rot, a district in the north of Stuttgart that is marked by social differences, but also by special solidary neighbourhood.

It is the home of the people who created the rural paradise – the inhabitants of the Immanuel-Grözinger-Haus (IGH). This 13-storey building is a residential home for single men in particular social difficulties. Life did´t turn out well for them: complicated biographies with addiction problems, social crashes and special living conditions led them to the men’s hostel of the Evangelische Gesellschaft eva (a Protestant Association). “Working in the so-called neighbourhood garden gives you structure and the feeling of doing something meaningful. They are often physically severely restricted by health problems. It is hardly possible for some people to walk safely on the potato field because of the balance problems”, explains Wolfgang Haag , social worker in the neighbourhood garden. This makes small experiences of success all the more important, such as the successful rearing of vegetables and fruit or the care of farm animals, which in addition to chickens also include several bee colonies.

The two greenhouses on the site are still a remnant of the previous owners, who already ran a nursery at this location. Even then the neighbours came and supplied themselves with fruit and vegetables, some of them still come by today to get fresh organic vegetables in exchange for a donation. “We, the eva, won’t earn anything, so the people give what they can. Sometimes, apples that are handed out come back as an apple pie,” smiles Armin Bubser, deputy head of the IGH. But not only the physical well-being is provided, in the bicycle workshop close-by, bikes are also repaired with a lot of passion. This type of employment is also part of the wide range of services offered by the IGH. “The goal is it to promote possibly buried abilities of the inhabitants again. Above all, it’s important that the work is fun and that they remain motivated.

The employees in the handicraft workshop, which is located on the second floor of the building, are also fully involved: Mosaics are glued there with meticulousness and perseverance, fretwork is carried out and minor carpentry work is done. “Our birdhouses are extremely popular, they can also be ordered,” says instructor Carola Pein, who patiently guides the men. Most of the items produced are sold in our own bazaars, which take place two to three times a year.

An important marketplace, not just for news, is the Café-TAS, which is located on Böckinger Strasse. It is open once a week in the afternoon. Not only the residents come there, but it’s just as popular as a meeting place for the neighbourhood. Reservations, inhibition thresholds and exclusion are not an issue – there it is togetherness that counts. “And that works well,” tells Armin Bubser. People know each other and sometimes help each other in an emergency.

“How it will work in the future when individual places are to be integrated into other buildings remains to be seen. There, good relations must first grow again. However, it is also an opportunity for integration.”

After the renovation of the IGH, according to the current state of planning, only the stationary long-term assistance, about 87 places, is to be accommodated – instead of the previous 144 places, some of them are occupied on a long-term basis and some are only occupied on a weekly basis. It has not yet been decided whether the new structure will be divided into residential groups – in order to promote community – or whether individual apartments with private bathrooms will be created.

The Ernst Abbe School, a special educational school for children with visual impairments, is located in immediate proximity. For the IGH, it is also an important integration approach, because the children regularly come to the neighbourhood garden as part of a cooperation project and learn useful things about animals and plants there. With their typical childlike curiosity and without exceptions, they not only enrich their own everyday school life, but also the everyday life of the residents.


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