How it came about

The Growing Sculpture Heiligengeist School Lüneburg owes a good part of its existence to the Altner Combecher Foundation for Ecolgy and Peace. Professor Günter Altner, cofounder of the foundation, was not only active as a benefactor, but as an instigator too.

Since the 1970s Günter Altner has ranked among the spearheads of the ecology and peace movement in Germany. He was introduced to George Steinmann´s "Growing Sculptures" by the und.Institut in summer 2007. The idea of a growing sculpture fascinated him. What, he asked, if this approach was applied to a school? And this in the perspective of education for sustainability?

Günter Altner: "We need approaches that provoke the pupils and the school into making creative holistic transformations. With the 'growing sculpture' a process is taking place that breaks through old statistics and opens up creative perspectives, perspectives for collective seeking and shaping.”

At the beginning of 2008 and in accordance with Hildegard Kurt and George Steinmann, Günter Altner submitted the idea of a “school as a growing sculpture” to Prof. Ute Stoltenberg, Director of the Institute for Integrative Study (infis) at the Leuphana University in Lüneburg.

In July 2008, the Altner Combecher Foundation for Ecology and Peace awarded a research prize to the Leuphana University’s Institute for Environment Communication (infu). At the award ceremony at the university, George Steinmann presented his “growing sculptures” The Return of Space (1992-1995), Komi (1997-2006) and Saxeten (2002-2006). Hildegard Kurt introduced his work.

The occasion also marked the first personal meeting of all named partners. A promising discussion began immediately. It was agreed that several schools in Lüneburg would be approached with the idea of a “school as a growing sculpture in the perspective of sustainability.”

At the end of November 2008 the team visited three schools – two primary schools and one secondary school. Discussions with the teaching staff accompanied the visits. In January 2009 George Steinmann and Hildegard Kurt submitted their concept. The Heiligengeist School had been chosen.

große Pause

To make our globalised world sustainable we need the same resources and skills that are essential for a successful education: spiritual openness, a sense of community and justice, creativity, self-confidence, courage and empathy.

photo: George Steinmann