In the west of Austria, there is a region -the Voralberg– which has become a prime example of eco-responsibility and environmental citizenship and a place of experimentation for a possible, more sustainable type of society.
Langenegg, a small town located in the heart of Vorarlberg, is at the centre of this environmental and sustainable approach based on the concepts of simplicity, durability and ecology.
In the late 80s, this village was slowing and gradually losing its businesses. The mayor decided to revitalize his village, so he set up public facilities such as play-school for children, a café and a grocery. To stick to the best ethics, these constructions were made of wood from fir trees (an abundant local resource) and met strict environmental standards with the use of renewable energy.
To go further in their efforts, the residents approved the proposal of their mayor to use a new local currency, the Talent, with the aim to support local trade and to boost the town’s economy. This currency is accepted by all the businesses in the city and the municipality and 10 years later the initiative has shown great results: nearly 200 jobs have been created in town and the “Talent” is used by 70% of the residents daily!
Vorarlberg is historically a poor region of Austria, but thanks to the various measures taken in the fields of ecology and environmental responsibility, it has become in recent years a dynamic region where the crisis is far less serious than it used to be.
The municipality of Langenegg is just one example among many in this region. The strength of these villages is that they succeeded in making the simplicity and sustainability of local resources into means of development. They have adapted to geographical constraints and have taken advantage of local resources, especially wood.
The famous adage “think global and act local” was put into practice in this part of the world to great advantage, to the point that the region receives awards regularly for its environmentally friendly achievements and sustainable engagement and has been named one of the most innovative regions in Europe.