Time to change something

We are permanently changing something, adapt ourselves to external and internal conditions but from time to time, changes are more visible to our audience.
cocoate.com was started in February 2007 as the successor of a German consultancy, established in 1997. The main fields of our activities were quite the same, our project activities, cooperations and the geographical area changed with our relocation to France.
We continued with adult education projects on a European level, software trainings, management and organizational consulting, but I reduced very much my coaching activities. That was attributable to the distance to Germany, even though I tried some online coaching sessions, it's not the same. We increased our other activities and found ourselves very soon under the same time pressure as we have been in Germany. There was/is never enough time to realize all our ideas ;-)


A Gardeners'Guide

In a two years European project, we learned about sustainable gardening by respecting permaculture principles. In that guide we assembled the most useful gardening tips for all who like to improve their gardening approaches.

Type of product: 

Principles of communication

Our communication is influenced by unconscious processes which are decisive for success or failure for the scheme of our relations. Even non-verbally, we always transmit plenty of information when talking to or with others and thus influence their behaviour.

On the occasion of the international project meeting for the CITCOM project, Isabell and I gave a workshop about the principles of communication.
The first part was delivered by myself and went into the basics of our communication, in the second part Isabell introduced a framework for devising a communication strategy and how to execute it successfully.

The feedback we received showed two tendencies: most of us aren't aware of their communication patterns and don't really want to discover the source of these unconscious influencers. Secondly, people want to have easy answers to complex questions, expressed by the demand on ready made communication strategies: a website, a bit of Facebook, some emails, etc.
Understanding communication processes and developing a good communication strategy is more complex and a job for professionals - you can hire us ;-)
Enjoy reading it!


Citoyenneté - Citizenry

This project is about citizenry and community development and during the last weeks I was researching the image of citizenry in France to better understand the framework in which civic actions takes place.
I talked with a lot of people about civic rights and duties and got confirmed my impression when writing the project: people don't see much possibilities to change politics on a large scale as most of politicians "are living in another world" but many are still trying to change something on a local/regional level.

It was quite surprising for me to realize how formalized civic actions in France are, nearly everything happens under the roof of associations.

The most common understanding of a citizens' right is the right to vote. Today, citizens of about 36.000 communes in France elect new municipal councils (France has by far the most communes in Europe, Germany has about 12.000) and communes are still largely perceived as the base of local democracy and decision-making. Citizens, especially in rural areas, are very attached to their commune and they have always tended to care a great deal about local politics and local democracy.

Consumption patterns

Happy Home Wallet project aims to rediscover sustainable ways of living and to make it practically, we will deliver some workshops about a range of topics covering that aim.
In preparation for our international workshop in Ostrava about "Private consumption patterns and its impact on the local economy" we were researching about consumption patterns and we did a survey in our area to find out how "the average person" behaves.

To balance the family budget, it is probably necessary to rethink our consumption, minimize waste and reorganize our resources.

This turned out to be more complex than thought at the beginning, but very interesting ;-)

Citizenry & Community

We met with our European partners in Bangor University on 27th and 28th November 2013 to kick start our new project CITCOM - Citizenry & Community.

The meeting provided a great opportunity for all partners to introduce themselves and their organizations. We explored and compared ideas of citizenry and community processes in our countries and scheduled a series of workshops to be delivered over the coming two years. The workshops will explore and develop ideas around understanding communities, communication, critical thinking, collaborative management methods, creativity & innovation and building competencies through active citizenry.

Partners are specialists in the different fields and the project will benefit from a European wide approach. We will work with geographical communities as well as communities of interest, different levels of governance and interested individuals. These participants will be invited to take part in local, regional and international workshops and meetings. Here they will gain a better understanding of active participation in decision making, will develop a positive approach to change and skills to initiate changes in their own communities.

Funded under the Grundtvig Multilateral programme, the partners include Bangor University Wales, Kaunas University of Technology, Ecological Club of Transilvania, ALVIT Innovation and Education from Czech Republic and Training2000 of Italy.

For more information please contact us.

Happy Home Wallet

Saving MoneyThe economic crisis that hit Europe in the last five years has inevitably led to changes in people's lives. This crisis impacted concretely on household wallets changing daily choices and lifestyles of millions of Europeans. The cost of living has grown significantly and at the same time, many people have lost their jobs, thus creating a further imbalance between revenues and expenditures in household budgets.

The deterioration of the situation has forced many to face the choice of having to revise their habits even in respect of certain aspects of daily life.

In the European framework of Life Long Learning Program, we start with "Happy Home Wallet" a new project to learn and share best practices for the daily domestic routine when using available resources, but with benefits for home, collective economy and environmental sustainability.

In transnational and national workshops, held by experts on each topic, we'll learn and find new approaches to better develop the family budget under a lot of new perspectives, related to reuse, sparing, environmental sustainability, taking into account social, economic, cultural aspects.

3. Layout

Flexible Boxes – next-generation CSS designed to create layoutsWhen we talk about layout in web design we usually mean page layout. Page layout is the part of graphic design that deals with the arrangement and style treatment of elements (content) on a page. A content management system like Joomla can have thousands of pages (or more) and it's very important to think about an arrangement of content elements that is readable on any type of screen.

A page layout can be easily drawed with a pencil on paper or by using a page layout software.

The hard part is to transform the planned page layout into HTML/CSS and integrate it into Joomla.

Joomla used layouts based on HTML tables for a long time. They are easy to create, they are working well for 80% of the use cases but it is semantically wrong to use HTML tables for a page layout. HTML tables should only be used for rendering data that belongs naturally to a grid, like in a spread sheet. A good example for the use of HTML tables is the periodic table.

A few years ago there was a big discussion about the topic "Table vs. CSS Layouts" (Tables: The Next Evolution in CSS Layout).

Layout in general is hard because it is about design!

Using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is harder compared to HTML tables because CSS offer so many possibilities to arrange your content. To get an overview about working with CSS, read carefully Learn CSS Layout.


If a task is hard, someone will create a framework to simplify it. In our case companies that provided templates for different content management systems needed frameworks to make their development work easier. In the Joomla world a few frameworks appeared (Gantry, T3, Warp, Phoca) but they were mostly tied to the products of that companies. Later we saw company independent frameworks still tied to Joomla (Construct, Morph).

Regardless content management systems, the need for frameworks was also high and a few results are Foundation, Bootstrap, and Skeleton just to mention a few.


2. Files and folders

Template FoldersIn this chapter we want to start with the technical basics for a Joomla! 3 frontend template. It has a defined file and folder structure and we will create it. In general we have three options for creating a new template. We can start from scratch by creating our own template folder and all the necessary files inside, we can install a starter template and modify it or we could copy an existing template and modify it. We go for the first option and keep it as simple as possible.
The aim of this chapter is to understand Joomla's template structure.

Template name

First of all your template needs a name. The name consists of a technical name and a description. The technical name will appear in XML files, folder names, the database, the webservers files system and several caches. Avoid special characters and blanks in the name even if it's technically possible. I'll give my template the technical name j3cocoate. The descriptive name can be much longer like "Joomla! 3 - cocoate Template".


The family business project

Last month we finished a two year European project for small family businesses with up to 9 employees maximum.

Together with partners from Lithuania, Latvia, Turkey and Wales, we wanted to point out the strengths and development potential of such small businesses and thus help to preserve this unique business culture which deeply impacts our local economies. By interviewing businesses representatives and recording their stories we learned about their specialities, problems and needs and also how aware they are of their local markets and clients. We organized case study presentations were business representatives had the possibility to discuss their situation on a European level.
Our business representatives profited most from the informal atmosphere which enabled them to share knowledge and learn from each other. The biggest surprise for them was to realize how much they could profit from each other even though their businesses and business environments are very different.

We also realized that governmental and institutional training offers are very often just adapted from programs for larger companies and do not really target the needs of small businesses nor do they meet their availabilities. In personal interviews we assessed business representatives' needs and wishes and based on these results we developed targeted workshops which were delivered during our transnational meetings.
44 European family businesses participated in the project activities and 34 representatives took the possibility to attend our international project meetings.