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Toxic Lunch: The Industry Talk at bbw Hochschule - University of Applied Sciences

Buller und Glahr

On August 27, 2020, Marie-Luise Glahr from the Citizens' Foundation Postdam, one of over 400 civic foundations in Germany, took part in a discussion about the common good and solidarity in a time of special challenges under the motto "Live your city" at the bbw Hochschule - University of Applied Sciences University. Born in Stuttgart, Marie-Luise Glahr studied art history and law in Munich and Berlin. Until 2012, she worked as a lawyer in inheritance and foundation law and today, together with her lawyer and board colleague Felix Müller-Stüler, she manages the fate of the Bürgerstiftung Potsdam as its chairperson.

Extract from the Toxic Lunch of August 27, 2020:

Buller: Good afternoon, Mrs. Glahr. After the foundation in 2010, the recognition in 2011 made it possible to start with the Bürgerstiftung Potsdam. What topics and projects do you devote yourself to in your daily work?
Glahr: The civic foundation is a foundation by citizens of the city for their citizens. It is an open, participatory foundation that offers a platform for all people who want to work for their city and the common good. The Potsdam Citizens' Foundation implements many projects, for example, for sustainability and environmental protection with PotsPRESSO, "Bienenwiese - Umwelt macht Schule" (Bee Meadow - Environment Makes School), for senior citizens with the "Citizens' Mobile", for integration with "Arrived in Potsdam" and "Buntes Essen", but also for friendly cooperation through "Potsdam Wichtelt".

Buller: When I asked you in our preliminary talk to give me a motto, you answered quite quickly: "Live your city! Does this motto also represent the impulse for the foundation? And what makes your work so special?
Glahr:
In addition to the communal provision of basic services, many gaps remain in social interaction. These must be seen and filled with life. Voluntary commitment is the glue that keeps our society going and makes it worth living. In addition to the respective primary concern of improving the quality of life of the people in a city, it is particularly important to experience and strengthen a sense of community. It is also a matter of moving from a negative view of deficits, from destructive lack of help or drive into constructive co-design. The focus of every project is to appeal to people, to get involved and help shape their city and the community. The secondary goal is always the creation of more community spirit.


Buller: How does that go down well in Potsdam? How is the community foundation perceived?
Glahr:
The civic foundation is increasingly coming into the public eye as an institution that identifies important issues that transcend the city, initiates dialogues, speaks for citizens' interests and, with a certain lightness and tenacity, whets the appetite for voluntary participation in shaping city life.


Buller: Besides you and your colleague, many helpers are responsible for the community foundation every day. What motivates you and your colleagues?
Glahr:
There are many topics that are important - not all of them can be covered by the public sector and public services. It strengthens life satisfaction when people can participate in shaping their environment and constructive self-efficacy prevents destructive social tendencies. In this respect, the work of community foundations, in addition to their primary project goals, also means creating meaning, strengthening the sense of community, contributing to the pacification of lines of conflict through dialogue and problem solving.


Buller: The Civic Foundation Potsdam distinguishes itself through good, everyday actions for Potsdam. You and I actually know each other from one of your projects, which has massively countered littering in Potsdam, namely the PotsPRESSO project. What is PotsPRESSO?
Glahr: PotsPRESSO is a city-wide deposit cup system to declare war on the mountains of disposable cups. The cups are already available citywide at many retailers who sell to go. For 2 deposits, the customer gets his drink in the Potspresso cup, which is certified organic and which he can dispense anywhere after use.

Buller: Has this approach suffered since the beginning of the Corona pandemic?
Glahr:
At PotsPRESSO, we were on a steep acquisition course, but at the moment, the catering industry is struggling to survive in many places, and the issues of climate and environmental protection and waste avoidance have rather fallen behind. Many customers also instinctively prefer to use disposable cups, although this is not hygienically advisable, since the cups come out of the dishwasher just like normal dishes.


Buller: I can imagine that Corona also represents a special challenge for the citizens' foundation Potsdam in principle. How do you assess the challenges with and after Corona for the community foundation?
Glahr: Corona is a great challenge for us and has also slowed us down in many projects. It is difficult for an organization that focuses on community and encounter to cope with these limitations. But we are creative and shift our focus and ways of communication and try to keep our projects at least partially alive.

Buller: What's next for the Potsdam community foundation?
Glahr: We'll stay on it! It is important to increase the reach in order to acquire more new partners again, even if the demand from customers exceeds the number of new partners. The only positive thing about Corona: many people have noticed for themselves how important solidarity and community are. We have more volunteers than ever before, who want to join us on a voluntary basis. This makes us happy and compensates for the losses in other areas and we would like to take this with us from the Corona time into the future.

Buller: "Thank you for the interview.

Toxic Lunch - The industry talk is back on September 24th, then Martin Bloomfield from York Associates in York (UK) will be a guest and talk about dyslexia and leadership.

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