The hilly massive around Lohra Castle is listed as National Nature Reserve. Open Houses supports the Reserve since several years with volunteering activities. In a forest near the Castle the participants will remove trees and bushes which are not corresponding with the protection aims in order to clean the paths and make them enjoyable again. They will also will collect the wood remaining after maintenance works, load it on a truck, unload it at the castle and split and stack it for wintertime or for the fireplace. Besides that, the volunteers will continue the maintenance of the green area at the castle.
shared rooms with 2 – 5 beds in 3 guest houses, warm shower (limited hot water), 1 camp kitchen (cold water), coal-burning stoves
The meals will be prepared together as they are part of the community life, what means that every participant will be responsible for the meal at least once during its stay. So it would be very nice if the participants could bring typical recipes from home in order to introduce each other to the preparation of food from all over the world.
Lohra Castle is situated in the heart of Germany in Northern Thuringia. The castle, which is surrounded by a scenic hilly landscape, is located on the edge of a nature reserve area. Being one of the largest castles in Thuringia, the history of the castle Lohra begins in the Middle Age. The castle is more than 1,000 years old. Today, it includes twenty buildings from different times: medieval fortifications, remnants of a tower from the 11th century, a Romanesque chapel, a manor house from the Renaissance period as well as stables and granaries from the 19th and the early 20th centuries.
The ensemble is situated in the centre of a beautiful forest. For years Lohra Castle was vacant. In the 1990s Open Houses started to restore the castle and to revive it by cultural activities. Since that time, a large number of Workcamps, Building Weeks, exhibitions, concerts and other activities with international participants took place in the castle.
The camp places are mostly situated in small villages in rural areas, so the participants should not expect busy places and normal city activities for the leisure time during the working days. Small trips in walking distance are possible in the afternoon. On the weekends it is possible to organise an excursion to nearby cities or to have other leisure activities.
The history of Open Houses Network dates back to the mid-1980s, when a group of young people started to restore village churches in East Germany in voluntary work to protect them from decay. The engagement for these buildings united people who enjoyed the freedom these activities provided and who filled these rooms with life again in ways which by far exceed the craftsmen’s work done – through exhibitions, concerts, making music together or just sitting by the camp fire.
Meanwhile, rooms free of political and ideological pressure are no longer urgently required; however, places have become rare where people can meet without commercial pressure, free of bureaucracy and institutionalism, free of nepotism and the exclusion which it produces. What should be easy – to go somewhere in order to meet people and to work together – has become difficult. The tightrope walk between, on the one hand, public activities in a monetary and functional sense, and the retreat into private life on the other, is very difficult, and it requires a lot of power and permanent efforts to tackle red tape and financial restrictions.
Free spaces are less and less understood as common property, and are permanently being cut back. The idea of public property seems to have gone out of fashion, and places of common responsible work have become rare.
Open Houses Network tries to create and protect such spaces. In this process, we do not want to be the do-ers, but be people who have a vision, who want to initiate something, but who also are aware of depending on the co-operation of others. We understand our projects and events as offers – as offers to create space for commitment, for changes, for meetings.