Photo by Constanze Flamme
Photo by Constanze Flamme

Solidarity and Hope for 2021

Birds flying over Beirut. A bright pink one among the flock stands out while keeping close to its fellow travellers, all heading in the same direction. Solidarity and hope come to mind as you look into this moment captured by long-time Tandem friend and photographer Constanze Flamme.

Following the Beirut explosion this past summer, Constanze has launched a relief print action to help support Beirut’s creative scene via her Instagram. We couldn’t think of a better image to share our best wishes for the new year ahead.

Photo by Constanze Flamme
Photo by Constanze Flamme

2020 has been very difficult for everyone. We are not delusional about the state of our world, but we want to keep sharing a message of solidarity and hope, a sentiment also voiced by our friend and long-time Tandem collaborator François Matarasso in his new year message. The Tandem community has remained strong in supporting each other online (Constanze’s relief action is one example), while our team has been focusing on following up with our existing and new programmes, keeping Tandem’s heart beating fast from behind our screens.

Tandem programme manager and MitOst managing director Jotham Sietsma says that for him, 2020 was all about Bruce Lee: “Throughout the last round of Tandem Ukraine, his quote ‘be like water’ helped many of us to not get trapped in a certain mindset, but to keep adapting and elegantly move around or even through all the obstacles that emerged on our path. And during our organisational change process at MitOst the past year, I rediscovered the value of repetition- a key element in martial arts training. Doing the same procedure over and over again can help with (un)learning certain behavioural patterns- even on a team level!”

“Now, 2021 needs to be about plants” adds Jotham, explaining that in a recent conversation he had with Tandem Europe participants Lorenza and Giulio, they got to talk about where we find inspiration for how we organise ourselves better. Giulio suggested plants. “At Tandem we have adopted eco-system thinking,” Jotham continues, “and I did know something about rhizome theory. But since I checked this TED Talk on the roots of plant intelligence that Giulio recommended, I fully believe the future needs to have roots, be networked and be very, very green. So, Tandem 2021: let’s be like a plant!

Challenging months are ahead of us still, and we cannot go through any of it alone. We want to continue showing up for you as a team. We also want to acknowledge how grateful we are to have been able to build such a strong community with you all, and we are looking forward to working towards creating more spaces and tools that will support us all in our work bringing social change in our own communities.

We thank you from the bottom of -at times tired but never hopeless- hearts for your ongoing presence, resilience and enthusiasm! Our community is what gives us the strength to go on.

With hope, solidarity and love,
The Tandem Team