A week ago I’ve returned from Tbilisi. Georgian capital city hosted Twin City Barcamp 2021. This post is to give you a short outlook on one of Twin City Lab key events.

Want a cool venue? Choose Fabrika!

Fabrika – a revitalized sewing factory in the heart of old town – proved to be a great venue, providing us with a very creative atmosphere. It also had enough rooms to accommodate 40 barcamp participants. Civil society and twinning cooperation enthusiasts came from Belarus, Georgia, Germany, Russia and Ukraine creating a nice base for barcamp melting pot of views and ideas. 

Welcome to the Jungle room

Fabrika’s conference halls have peculiar names: Jungle, #222, Green and Spark. First and the biggest one was chosen for main group activities, including the opening ceremony on Thursday night, 18.11.2021. After speeches from our Team leads – Gregor and Bjorn, the floor was taken by Tanja Hutt, Deputy Head of Mission of German Embassy in Tbilisi. Then our lovely hosts – Bjorn and Elena,  smoothly transformed the session into mingling group activities to break the ice, followed by a reception with traditional Georgian snacks. 

Everyone is an expert

That’s the basic concept differentiating barcamps from traditional big conferences on twinning and civil cooperation. When agenda is not a preset, but rather an empty canvas with time slots in different locations, it boosts the cooperation dynamics and fosters the ideas exchange. Participants took the floor to share experience, discuss the most painful issues, raise questions that mattered to them “right here, right now”.

After the concept introduction and 10 minutes of intense pitching, 15 time slots were  filled and a couple of extra items were moved to next day’s agenda, and we immediately ran into the first sessions. Throughout both days I had a chance to attend some of them and would love to share a couple of snapshots, so you to get a slight impression of …

… how the Twin City Barcamp feels like :

  • 27 participants divided in 4 groups are brainstorming and collecting a database of useful programs/ platforms and a list of donors at project management session 
  • 10 speakers are lying in bean bags and taking turns to showcase the best and the worst areas of their cities on the wall via Google Earth, mobile phone and a projector 
  • representative of ecological initiatives is sharing a set of brochures, made to communicate ecological issues to kids
  • 20 guys are struggling to memorize each other’s names in an ice-breaker preceding a conceptual session on Framework for sustainable twinning cities. Next session in the same room will discuss effective partnership between twinning cities
  • Q&A session on communication in Digital Era is jumping from “how do I explain what is twinning” to “which tools can I use to overcome language barrier when communicating with foreign partners”
  • a couple of participants are using the opportunity of finally seeing each other in real life  to take a break from the sessions and discuss joint projects with cakes and coffee in the chill out area.

That’s just a small share of Twin City Barcamp 2021. Session topics were very variable, but always audience chosen. All done by participants and for participants, with a bit of magic from Twin City Lab hosts and admins. 

Next year Twin City Barcamp will be back, with a bit more focus on capacity building, formats for twinning, best-practise and fuck-up experience. 

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