Verschönerungsverein Stein and the Party in the Mountains


We went up into the mountains looking for one festival but got lost and crashed into a party of wonderful folks trying to keep the bees alive in Europe. They have a long name: Verschönerungsverein Stein an der Donau. It's usually contracted to VV-Stein. The group has been around for about 50 years.

They do a lot of other things. They maintain the signs on the mountain. And maybe parts of the road too? One guy said they make the world a happier place by giving out flowers as well. Not sure if we had something lost in translation there since his English wasn't good and I don't speak German yet. They said young people there won't keep bees because it is not trendy and so the ones doing it are old.

They have a small core team of about 7, I think, including two retirees. These two retirees go around the mountain looking for problems and then telling the younger ones what needs to be done. Then they schedule among themselves to sort it out.

I asked if there were other groups around and whether they connected with them. They said other similar groups exist, but they are territorial and don't like other groups telling them what to do. Someone in this VV-Stein group characterised it as a problem. They also do not work with biologists and other environmental studies folks. Maybe that's why some of their signs describing animals in the mountains are slightly eccentric.

Apparently, the government spends very little to maintain the public facilities in the mountains. Something like €100 a year. I found that implausible but who knows. So, VV-Stein holds fund-raisers annually to get money for their good work. It was into this annual party that we accidentally barged and got treated to some delicious wine.

They don't have a website and I was too lazy to get their contact details but do try to hit them up and study them if you can, dear reader. They sound interesting and important to the local cultural ecology.


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