The Wehrli Family

Richard Wehrli lives with his wife Gabriela and their two children Lionel (3) and Runa (6) at the Ölberg in Ennenda. He was born in Zurich, she in Uren; they've been living in an old house far away from traffic for about twelve years. Gabriela is a kindergarten teacher, while Richard has trained for three professions: teacher, director and cultural manager.

Richard Wehrli, why do you live in Glarnerland?

Originally out of love. My wife Gabriela found a job here as a kindergarten teacher. And since my contract at the Lucerne city theatre, where I was working as a director's assistant and director, ran out, we decided to move to Ennenda about twelve years ago.

And what do you love about it here?

The beautiful landscape, the mountains – and there's no fog. Anyone from Lucerne really appreciates that.

What do you find difficult?

Structures in Glarnerland could be more family-friendly. It's not easy if both parents want to or have to work. The same is true for single parents. Child care services need to be better. The canton has to handle that. There also aren't many attractive part-time positions. Industry has to handle that.

People say that Glarner locals are conservative. As a leftist-green, culturally active intellectual, that might bother you...
That's not true at all. Glarner people are more open than people in other mountain cantons, like in the canton of Uri. That's because industry is so important here and the number of foreigners is higher. It forces the Glarner locals to interact with strangers. Sure, in federal votes the canton is often conservative, but the cantonal assembly is generally social and open-minded.

But isn't red-green still suspicious to many Glarner locals?

Decisions within the township or canton usually don't follow party politics. A good consensus is found as soon as it becomes practical. I don't feel like an outsider because of my political beliefs. Many people have the same opinions as I do. Add to that the fact that I as an individual can actually make things happen, and not only through memorial applications to the cantonal assembly.

How else?

Everything is well-arranged. Nobody disappears in the crowd. Everyone knows everyone. So I can talk to the educational director on the street and register a concern. As a "normal citizen," I can participate if there's a conversation about, say, public transportation planning.

This smallness also has disadvantages, though: the cultural and entertainment options can't be as broad as in a major city.

There's actually a lot going on culturally in the canton, even if it's often uncoordinated. Lots of things happen at the same time and only once. And there are little gaps like with the children's theatre or with dance. But whatever I miss here I can get in Zurich. I can be there in an hour. That's no big distance these days. And I like that about Glarus: I live in the country, but I'm still not as isolated as in a Grisons valley.

And with regard to going out?

We have everything that we need as a young family.

And how does the shopping work? You have to go to other cantons for large furniture stores, Media-Markt, or big shopping centres.

I prefer shopping at the local store anyway, which Ennenda luckily has, along with a butcher's shop and two bakeries. We're a public transport family, so we're happy to have shopping options close by. If we need something bigger from outside, we just rent a car. I usually ride a bicycle or take public transport and participate in a car share as a member of Mobility.

Source: «Die Südostschweiz»