Tandem Regions and Network meeting in Sofia, February 2023, image by Constanze Flamme Tandem Regions for the Sustainability of European Peripheries Farah Makki from Mediation Culture shares an article about the Tandem Regions as a community of practivists. Have you heard of Tandem Regions? Are you looking for a community of “practivists” who are breaking down assumptions about European peripheries? And are you interested in exploring how Arts and Culture can help transform the future of these areas? Look no further than Tandem Regions! With a network of cultural mediators in action, Tandem Regions is connecting place-makers and change-makers across Europe. What is their goal? To localize Sustainable Development Goals and sustain existing efforts while growing the ability to act within a regional ecosystem of arts and culture; weaving together the diverse tapestry of partners’ passions, expertise, learning needs and in-house resources. The Culture & SDGs 2030 framework proposed for mapping and aligning the organizational portfolios and ambitions by Farah Makki From the Tandem Regions' first partnership design sessions in the Summer of 2021 by Farah Makki But that's not all! Tandem Regions is breaking the mold with their prototype-led approach to cross-cultural collaboration and social innovation. From making visible the cultural practices of less known communities in Portugal to exploring the impact of global issues such as climate change on rural communities in Bulgaria, Tandem Regions is creating an impact through innovative prototypes, which involve experimenting with new collaborative approaches and arrangements. From end of 2021 to 2023, efforts have been involved in implementing 4 Local Prototypes (Portugal, Bulgaria, Italy, and Greece), forming cross-border constellations with other realities (Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands), and influencing policy. The Tandem Regions constellations at the beginning of 2022 by Farah Makki Are you curious to dive into the prototypes? Here they are: Portugal: Uncovering Hidden Gems: The Power of Mapping Cultural Communities Off the Radar in Portugal's Aveiro Region Did you know that there are cultural practices and organizations working under the radar in peripheral zones that are often overlooked? This is where the “Mapping communities with cultural practices off the radar” prototype comes in, designed and implemented by 4iS in Portugal’s Aveiro region. This innovative process aims to identify these hidden cultural gems and create a networking format that involves community-based organizations and cultural agents operating in the peripheral regions of Aveiro, Central Portugal. These regions are often outside the radar of local authorities or have limited access to resources, with low participation in intervention programs and public policies. The prototype engages with these groups through an action research mapping process to understand their strengths, needs, and challenges. Currently, the prototype has engaged with over 25 off-the-radar organizations from 11 municipalities. The primary goal is to establish equal communication channels between these organizations, local authorities, and international entities to enhance regional networking and ensure sustainable operational capacity and autonomy. The Off the Radar website is now live for those who wish to learn more. State of mapped realities - summer 2022 Bulgaria: Baba Residence goes Climartistique: Transforming Rural Bulgaria with Art and Climate Action Building on the success of their Baba residency program, which immerses artists in depopulated villages to engage with local communities and re-evaluate cultural and natural treasures, the new Climartistique edition of Ideas Factory focuses on the impact of climate change on rural life, specifically on water and bread. These resources are both direct and metaphorical means of survival in times of uncertainty and question how resilient communities are. The quality of water, food, and air are critical factors that influence people’s choices to live in rural areas. However, this decision often means sacrificing access to diverse cultural products and experiences. It’s unfortunate to force making a choice between a clean environment and full access to culture. To address this issue, the Climartistique residency dives into the subject of what is essential again in times of local climate change and rural depopulation. Climatartistic - Baba Residency _ Ideas Factory - Bulgaria in June 2022 During the residency, artists live with local householders and collaborate with communities to explore pressing local issues such as droughts and grain scarcity. Through artistic interactions and expressions, urban and rural cultures can come together to raise awareness about the health of the living ecosystem. The role of “rituals” is explored as means of sharing experiences and traditions, sparking conversation, gathering knowledge, and inspiring co-creation of actions towards a more resilient and ecologically conscious future. Overall, the Climartistique residency offers a unique opportunity to find new ways to address critical environmental issues, where both our natural environment and cultural experiences are preserved and cherished. To learn more about this journey towards proactive rural communities in Bulgaria, you can visit the following link. Italy: (RE)CENTER PERIPHERIES From Polluted to Reborn, The Villette Job Brings a Community Touch to Revive a post-industrial Environment. Shifting into responsible creative economy hubs. The Villette Job prototype is designed and implemented by R84 Multifactory (Italy), partner of Tandem Regions. R84 Multifactory is making big moves to secure its future, negotiating a long-term rental agreement with a multinational oil company. Their Villette Job prototype included a year-long communication campaign that not only showcases the complexities and ambitions of this non-profit organization, but also transforms the community’s perception of the area from a polluted wasteland to a thriving creative hub for independent regeneration and creative economy projects. Guided by the principles of circularity, resilience, and self-sufficiency, the R84 community is tackling pressing questions related to the global energy crisis. The prototype process focused on the role of working forces and organizational models in paving the way towards a clean energy transition. This effort may turn the Multifactory into an energy community, and discussions regarding this possibility were initiated and addressed during a symposium held in October 2022. The Multifactory is all about reflecting on suburbs and regenerating post-industrial sites. They believe the periphery can be just as important as the center, and are working hard to reintegrate creative economy jobs that are typically found in more central areas. They’re breaking down traditional urban planning models and promoting equal access to services and intellectual production. Their unique horizontal governance model ensures that every member and user of R84 Multifactory has a say in decision-making and plays a role in daily maintenance habits and future development. This makes a truly community-driven organization that lowers the barriers to entry for creatives, entrepreneurs, and anyone seeking a stimulating environment to work in. With a focus on circular support, trust, collaboration, and idea-sharing, the R84 model is changing the rules of collaboration and the space of working for creative businesses and individuals alike. Follow R84 on their journey to breathe new life into their community and leave a positive impact on the land that will last for generations to come. Greece: Empowering Tomorrow's Citizens: The Creative Education (R)evolution “Dear friend, we would like your help to get to know your place. We know that the citizens of every city or village, no matter how much they love their place, face more or less some problems. Athens for example is a city where over 5,000,000 people live. A metropolis that is said to offer work and entertainment opportunities, where everything starts from it. A big city, however, which also has many difficulties: traffic, pollution, lack of greenery and spaces for free and safe play for children. Write a short paragraph about its beauties and another about the main problems faced by the citizens of your country, in your opinion.” “Shaping Advocates in Elementary Education” prototype developed by COMM’ON (Greece) in partnership with Tandem Regions is set to revolutionize elementary education. By using participatory methodologies and fostering critical thinking, social responsibility and empathy, this innovative prototype aims to empower elementary school teachers with the tools needed to support students to become engaged members of their communities. According to the European Commission, “although active citizenship is taught today in all European Union countries, relevant education of teachers around this subject is lacking. » (European Commission, Press release, 4-6-2012). Likewise, Eurydice’s 2017 annual report revealed that while citizen education is a main course in all primary and secondary education levels in Greece, teachers lack the necessary tools and methodologies to cultivate creative participation in their students and encourage them to become active in shaping the urban commons. From the children's drawings collected during the workshops with schools in Messolonghi - Greece, June 2022 To address this issue, COMM’ON conducted a survey to identify the difficulties faced by teachers in their role as mediators between students and their local community and tested methods to drive their engagement. The goal is to create educational materials and design teaching interventions that support teachers and students in their communication with local authorities. Over 70 students participated in this effort, capturing the issue with drawings and writing letters to the mayor to stream their concerns and offer creative proposals. Youth voices yielded many practical solutions, including the creation of a homeless shelter, the removal of photovoltaic panels from land designated for food cultivation, the placement of panels on rooftops instead, the creation of cycle paths, the increase in waste bins, and the resolution of the stray dog issue to improve safety. COMM’ON embarks us, in a pilot program, on a journey to create a new generation of creative and active citizens who will shape the future of our cities and communities. Tandem regions is not just about the prototypes - we tap into the sweet spots of agency! Powers of 10 & Spots of agency McCaffrey 2020 Tandem Regions is all about empowering local communities and activating the sweet spots of agency that can multiply further on different scales through intercultural collaborations. By tapping into the local energies, cultural actions empower those who have been overlooked and have to bring about meaningful change. By tapping into the power of culture and community, actors promote transformative experiences addressing pressing needs, from daily well-being, to social and environmental justice in European peripheries. Tandem Regions want to act loud for the just transition! Marching Bosk - Arcadia In the partnership, Arcadia (Netherlands) served as an inspiring model for collaboration, with the workshops on Creative Advocacy offering valuable lessons for all involved ... Never make it about “you”, yet about “them” If they own it, people will go on. However, if we keep on doing what we do, we will keep getting what we have got so far! Bring radical imagination in the process! With these words in mind, we must collectively envision new transition worlds that prioritize the needs of communities and natural environments over individual interests. Tandem Regions is at the forefront of this effort, bridging the gap between taking concrete action and imagining differently and creatively through collaboration and circular innovation. By working together to exchange resources, mobilize engagement, and take small but meaningful steps, we can create a more just and sustainable future for all. In this partnership, Brigantia-Creative Scene (United Kingdom) has been a method-sharer, with ‘Hidden Gems’ mapping”, while Arcadia – Leeuwarden Fryslan 2028 (Netherlands) served as an inspiring model for collaboration, with the workshops on Creative Advocacy offering valuable lessons for all involved. Transitory Museum Pfyn (Switzerland) translated the Tandem Regions reflection on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into the country-level cultural policy – Suisseculture’s recommendations for the next national “Message culture” program by the Swiss government -, sparking discussions and promoting sustainability beyond just the environment circle. Together, we can continue to learn from each other, collaborate, and drive positive change in our communities and beyond. Tandem Regions is leading the charge in nurturing local ecosystems and communities of practice for regenerative actions. The partnership unfolds as a dynamic process, built on rapid and meaningful relationships across the fields. By capitalizing on short windows of opportunities, cultural mediators are looking to develop influential connections with high-powered decision-makers, advocate for place-based development and promote informed sustain-ability pathways. An example of this is the effort to demonstrate the importance of culture in a world that often lacks a connection to it – finance and investing. If you want to learn more about this, take a look at the following article that explores connections between culture and investments. Partnership's SDGs connections during the sense making sessions in September 2022 - Farah Makki What's Next ? Discussions took place during the recent regional encounter in the capital of Bulgaria in February 2023. Over 50 members of the Tandem family joined the Tandem Regions Networking meeting, captured through Leticia’s vivid visuals and Costanze Flamme’s striking photography. The core group of the Regions programme shared their valuable insights and learnings from the past two years of working together. They also invited Tandem alumni and friends to collaborate on developing the next steps. How can we apply this format to other regions? How can we involve various stakeholders, from local to international levels? And, most importantly, how can we amplify the impact of our work and bring even more value to our local communities? Although we may not have all the answers just yet, Tandem Regions is committed to unlocking its full potential by expanding its strategic organizational and network governance capacity, while exploring alternative finance models to drive progress. As we cultivate mycelium for the next generation of change agents, we’re creating more opportunities for learning and advocacy. illustrations by Leticia Guimarães So what are you waiting for? Support Tandem Regions and become part of the movement towards positive change, reducing inequalities across the peripheries of Europe. With a transformative approach that builds the capacity of actors through boundary-spanning collaboration, trust-building, goal-coordination, and social learning, Tandem Regions is leading toward a more sustainable and regenerative future. Contact them today to find out how you can get involved and check the website of zusa for more acts of collaboration in Europe and beyond. Tandem regions team Tandem Regions was initiated by European Cultural Foundation (Netherlands), MitOst (Germany), 4iS social innovation (Portugal), COMM’ON (Greece) and Ideas Factory (Bulgaria), coordinated by MitOst and developed with Creative Scene (UK), Insha Osvita (Ukraine), Leeuwarden Fryslan 2028 (Arcadia) (Netherlands), Transitory Museum Pfyn (Switzerland), R84 (Italy). supported by European Cultural Foundation, Fondazione Cariplo and Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo (Italy).