In 2021 we had the chance to come up with our TCL Academy. Time to look back and review it.
The idea of the TCL Academy was born only two years ago when we learned that there are a couple of recurring topics around town twinning our participants are particularly interested in learning more about.
Funded by Germany’s Federal Foreign Office, the Academy was launched as a project designed to close the knowledge gap in areas where there is the greatest demand combined with the possibility of networking between participants from different countries. Due to the pandemic and for sustainability reasons, we hosted all our live sessions online.
We offered different format. Most of the were conceptualized as flipped classroom-formats and required participants to watch video lectures and tutrorials (made by our coaches) before live sessions. That way, sessions could be used for active discussions and exchange.
Only a couple of weeks after the official approval, the TCL Academy was launched last June. Of course, it took some time to establish relationships, communication between partners, participants, coaches, and in general to better understand what topics and challenfes are the most important for those already involved.
Advanced trainings, Meetups, and Coachings
From August to December 2021 we hosted 10 advanced online trainings and workshops with on demands video-content followd by on or more live session. We covered a variety of topics related to twinning:
- Designing new Event Formats
- Art spaces and events
- Thrilling storytelling for social media
- Successful volunteer recruitment
- Making videos for your social media channels
- Local Community Building
- Looking for funding opportunities
- Collaboration online
- Design Thinking
In addition, we initiated and hosted a international meetup for the twinning community and supported cities with coachings and worshops.
Participants in all our online seminars were people of completely different ages, from about 18 to 69 years. The participants of the workshops and meetings formed highly diverse groups: coming from different target countries, namely people who have no experience in twinning between cities but are active in the civil society of their countries, NGOs, their members, activists, initiatives, government, city councils, and their international departments.
Highlights of the TwinCafé-series were – with no daught – the ones with Yuriy Filyuk and Ambassador Dr. Hans-Jürgen Heimsoeth. Yuriy, founder of Urban Space Concept, and the NGO “Warm City” – a platform for city development. “Warm City” established a triangular interaction between businesses, government, and civil society. He shared his experience as the CEO of the project “Promprylad. Renovation” – an innovation center based on the model of impact investment. You can find out more about this meeting here.
With Ambassador Dr. Hans-Jürgen Heimsoeth we discussed his perspective on current status of twinning and the prospects for its development in the coming decades. We also discussed the prospects of the Eastern Partnership countries in the context of cooperation between civil society and urban diplomacy.
Whatever the Twin City Lab’s activties of the future will look like, a TwinCafé will surely be part of it.
What we will keep in mind…
- Of course, things like Zoom-fatigue, different time zones, diverse technical preconditions challenged us many times. Especially our strong focus on interactivity needed realtime adjustments, when quality of connections limited some participants to contribute or to use provided online tools. We quickly learned how to prepare the the participants the coaches as well ourselves for such settings and keep on working on for improvements.
- We also realized that people participated from different situations. Most of them took part from their homes or offices. And some were follwing our live session even from traines and buses. For future workshops, we already created strategies and formats which mach the different conditions. For some topics this also means, to go for more differentation: Volunteers and professionals have different motivations, times frames and interest.
- It was no surprise: those topics suggested or generated by people from the twinning community had the great reception. We will continue and expand our efforts to develop our offers not only aligned to but creating them with the twinning community.
- Teaming up with partners in the target coountries is essential in order to reach out to the dedicated people. We would love to expand out network in the future.
We are grateful to everyone who was joining our workshops and seminars, and especially to those whom we can confidently call part of our twinning community.
We thank all the coaches, speakers, and facilitators. Without you, our TCL Academy would be impossible.
We are sincerely grateful to everyone who provided us with feedback and advice on how to improve our activities.
We look forward to the meetings and cooperations in 2022! See you soon! ♡