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It has been a challenging year so far – for everyone. The Twin City Lab was about to boost some more partnerships and urban community. But even Plan Bs were supposed to be affected by lockdown and restrictions. So some of the quietness derives from a bustling team preparing awesome new things.

We talked to the TCL-founders Gregor and Björn to get a glimpse on the things to come and the future of TCL!

// Gregor, how was this year for you as one the TCL-heads?
Gregor: That was a hell of a rollercoaster! We had a great headstart with awesome booster cities, e.g. Karlsruhe and Krasnodar, to name two of them. And just as everyone was excited to get finally started, we were put on ice just like everybody else. We have been working on a smart adaptation to the new situation. As soon as lights went green for small groups to gather again, we started over again, and everyone including our great partners was electrified. Like everyone, we were put on ice again with the second lockdown. But, looking on the bright side, we stayed healthy, and that matters most.

// Many projects tried to transfer their ideas to “online-only”-concepts. Why did you not virtualize your booster program?
Björn: Well, in our Plan B we tried to do a few things online. But when exploring and connecting foreign urban communities and local conditions and potential, you need to have the real co-presence – at least in the very beginning. At the same time, ongoing collaborations can perfectly be facilitated online. 
Greg: Indeed, that was our Plan B: Using the times between lockdowns to initiate cooperation and start boosting in order to support and facilitate the bilateral teams through virtual formats like Virtual BarCamps, Online WorldCafés, MeetUps and Coachings.

// So, one could say: the challenges for twinning cities changed nowadays!
Björn: Quite a bit, as things have changed for any activity based on live interaction, travelling and exploration and so on. The initial challenges stay the same. But especially onboarding and integration of new parties, creating new partnerships and collaborative planning and implementation of projects with a strong on-site/offline component is a really big challenge. But, at the same time, it is easier to connect already committed people with fewer time efforts, especially if you have the right occasions and incentives.

// While you are: Right now are (soft-)launching a new service these days to provide. Are coming up with ideas for the so-called right occasions and incentives?
Greg: As always! [laughing] No kidding, we always had the vision to provide a proper repository of tried and tested projects, inspiring ideas and innovative events formats, tutorials and more in-depth insights as well as expertise one day. 
Björn: I mean, there are some great platforms out there but only a few dealing with twinning cities. But we were missing a profound resource and knowledge base.
Greg: And here we are. We just set up and started to fill up our new online areas.

// So, what can we expect right now? And, what’s to come?
Greg: Well, we are launching a Projects Database, with international projects of different kinds and complexity. And we will have a City Matching Database for urban communities and cities looking for new partnerships – whether it’s a formal twinning partnership or topic-related cooperation.
Björn: Interviews, How-Tos and other insights will be shared through articles, short videos and podcasts.
Greg: And – for registered members – we will provide funding opportunities and a recommended Experts for twinning related issues.
Björn: For a start, we will come up with the Projects database, followed by the City Matching and membership-based services.
Greg: Which is of course, for free!!
Björn: In the next weeks and month, every section will be expanded by our team!

// Is there any chance to contribute?
Greg: For sure. I mean, projects and activities are made by people. Locally. On-site. We are collecting and aggregating things and add our ideas. We are inviting new changemakers as well as old hands to enrich the twining universe with more exciting projects, experiences and ideas. We also would like to feature projects regularly.
Björn: Just drop us a line via Email or through our social media!