Mr. W. from the municipality: “A project plan? Waste of paper!”

05-02-2013 19:43


“W. speaking.” Hmm. “Hi, I have a question about the one time subsidy for projects. At the township’s website I could only find about three lines about that.” In those three lines it was stated that applicants should live in Son, that the project should not be a development aid project and that there was a “preference for initiatives from youngsters”, with no further definition. So I thought: I’ll give them a call.
“Do you live in Son?” “Yes.” “Ok, cause if you wouldn’t, you couldn’t get subsidy.” “No.”
“Is the goal of your project development aid?” Mr. W.’s voice sounded tired. “Well, I’m going to volunteer, but the most important part of my project is that I’ll write little animating stories about my experiences. That way I’d like to tell others something about life in other parts of the world, make them more aware of their own situation in that context, and hopefully my plan wil inspire others to make a difference too in their own way.” “Ok,” Mr. W. said laconically, “because if it were a development aid project, you couldn’t get subsidy.” “No.”
“How old are you?” “I’m twenty six, I wondered if I’m a youngster in your definition,” I said. “Hmm, well, I don’t really know that either,” he answered, and through the phone I could hear him shrug. “You know, some say you’re only as young as you feel,” I tried lightly. No reaction. Mr W. didn’t feel young I guess. Or maybe he needed all his attention to turn the button in his head from the “impossible”-position to “not impossible”. I gave him a moment to get used to it. “Yes. I think it may be possible that you could recieve a subsidy.” Eureka.


“So, I was wondering if there are requirements that applications must meet, certain things that are important.” For a moment he kept silence and then he said: “Well, we’re not really strict in that manner. We just have a look at things a bit.” Oh. Just have a look at things a bit. Sounds like: chances are less at mondays when it rains and before the coffee-break. But summer had been gone for a while already, and spring wasn’t to be there soon, so I didn’t want to take that risk. Surprised I asked: “But there must be something like … criteria? Don’t you have a procedure for the assessment?” Mr. W. didn’t seem impressed at all: “If you would ask a judge then, yes, he’d probably say that we should have a policy for this.” It sounded like he didn’t really understand why judges expect townships to have policies. “But we don’t have it.” End of story. No policy. Question answered. Oh, willingness… My turn to try and activate him once again.


“What information do you need from the projects then? I do have a project plan..” Suddenly Mr. W. sounded surprisingly awake: “No no, not a complete project plan! No one is gonna read that, way too much hassle. A waste of paper.” I smiled and it took me a while to realize that he wasn’t joking. “Ok, so what do you want then?” His short upliving moment was already gone and he continued at his bored tone: “The essention of the project, not too extended, just short, and a little estimate budget.” My “little estimate budget” included a two-dimensional reimbursement overview in both absolute and relative numbers, and the total document consisted of five pages of digits for the enthusiast. Mr. W. was not an enthusiast, at least I figured that out.

“Ok, do you need something else?” “We need the number of your bank-account, your contact details, and your number of the commercial register if you have one.” I did. “But for now I’m a one-man business because I’m not sure yet if I’ll start a foundation.” Mr. W. said that that was no problem: “The township rather gives money to legal persons than to individuals, so just write it down somewhere. Is that all you needed to know?” I couldn’t tell, I thought so. “When can I expect an answer?” He sighed quietly and said: “Well, I’ve got plenty to do. I’ll have a look at it in a week or two; I think we should send you an official reaction in six weeks or so.” There you are: a little sparkle of policy in the end. On another day and under other circumstances I’d feel pity for Mr. W., but now his dull “waste of paper” took too much space in my head to leave a bit for pity. The next morning I handed over my application in the city hall.


I don’t really know how much time had passed before I received their letter. Request denied. One of the reasons was that as a one-man business I would be a profitable organization, and that was a problem. I think Mr. W. forgot to mention that when he spoke to me on the phone. Besides, it turned out I wasn’t a youngster; I guess the consultation had taken place on a rainy monday. Before the coffee-break. But that’s something you couldn’t tell untill that monday, of course: if you are a youngster or not.


Anyway, if I’d want to object to their decision, I should do that in six weeks after they sent the letter. Yeah. I wasn’t going to object. No policy, no objection. And I also know what the judge would say about that already. No, Mr. W. and the municipality will get the honor of being the subject of my very first column of the project, right before it even started! Because thanks to them, I don’t need to go to a developing country to be able to write a story that makes people frown untill they smile and shake their heads. Fortunately, those readers know that the people who are in charge do know a lot about management, and that they are at the service of the citizens. Contribute to awareness.

Thanks and you’re welcome, Mr. W. … and hold on.



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