Interconnected in Culture for a Stronger Ecosystem

«Thoulathy³: Cross-Border Collaboration» launches in Izmir

Start Date: 2022-09-09

End Date: 2022-09-12

Urla, Izmir

«Thoulathy³: Cross-Border Collaboration» launches in Izmir

Thoulathy³ – Kick-Off Meeting (Sep 9 – 12) 

The kick-off meeting of «Thoulathy³: Cross-Border Collaboration»  brought together 10 Thoulathy³ collaborations – an Arabic word for trio – to Izmir for a 4-day workshop designed to familiarise the group with one another and allow space to revisit and shape their collaborative projects. Each Thoulathy³ which is composed of 2 south organisations and 1 north organisation will work for a year to shape and implement their projects. 

By gathering the south and north trios in a forest side in Urla, Izmir the The implementing partners – L’art Rue and MitOst –  wanted to bring the participants into a different mindset and rhythm, one that would provide the distance necessary for acquiring different ways of working together. 

The facilitators adapted a practical approach that engages both the body and mind to tackle questions about working together. On the first day, participants were invited to collectively discuss and set the meeting principles to help pave the way for collaborative frameworks where both individual and collective needs are acknowledged. Meeting attendances, including the implementing team, reflected on their expectations, needs, how to work together and what needs to be avoided. What this exercise led to is a list of principles that came from the exchange. Some of the points were: 

  • Realistic management of expectations 
  • Avoiding lack of clarity on roles, responsibilities and expectations
  • Clear action plans, less zoom 
  • Open and honest communication which means dealing with difficulties that could arise 
  • Being mindful of personal boundaries and accepting differences 
  • Self organisation – we are all here hosting each other 
  • Being mindful of how much space one takes within the group 
  • Finding ways for relational learning and the sharing of experiences 

After the principles were set, the group formed smaller groups to discuss questions that concern them and their works such as: What does ‘good’ collaboration mean to you? How to approach the digital direction of the world and if there are ways to be critical about it? How do you position yourself when addressing marginalised communities? What are the drivers that inspire you and keep you going? 

Questions that matter

The participants raised many interesting points during their discussions. For example, Rim Harrabi from «Transmitting Voices X Moving Stones» Thoulathy³ brought up the importance of remaining honest and genuine to the ‘targeted’ audience, especially when addressing marginalised communities, without falling into the trap of over-intellectualising or abiding by a theme imposed by a donor or host. She shared how when she was working on “Entre-pôles” a series of episodes for Inkyfada podcast on psychiatry and mental health in Tunisia, it became very clear to her that the discussion has to extend to having a real impact that addresses structural gaps in the system. 

Others such as Abdullah Kassem from «New Virtual Gardeners» Thoulathy³, Younis Idihoum from «Ard» Thoulathy³, and Noureddine Bougrab from «Contes imbriqués» Thoulathy³, discussed how to navigate the direction the digital world is taking. Some pointed out how the digital had a direct impact on efficiency and connectivity while others addressed its representational dimensions while tapping into the mind and body divide that digital infrastructures usually widen.

Meanwhile, Jacob Moe from «Mirrors» Thoulathy³ , Nidaa Bilbaisi from «Arab Science Fiction VR Lab» Thoulathy³ and Yasmeen Nabulsi from «More Than Just a Circus» Thoulathy³ discussed that clear, structured and honest communication is key for finding common grounds in cross-border and cross-cultural collaborations.  Often taken for granted, sessions of reflection and realignment of team roles prove to be helpful to prevent conflicts and misunderstandings among partners.

Dugnad – an exercise about common work

On the second day, participants had a chance to have hands-on experience to explore their own ways of working in a team. The Dugnad method facilitated by All-Around Culture team members was a great tool to trigger deeper conversations among Thoulathy³ partners about collaborative work. 

After spending some time pondering on those questions, participants engaged in a design thinking exercise following the Dugnad method, a Norwegian term for ‘common work’. They were asked to explore a space by sensing and observing it and coming up with a site-specific intervention . What became visible through their interventions is the importance of prototyping for processing and thinking through ideas differently as it allows for ideas to be tangible and experiential. Prototyping made it easier for the participants to have a conversation about new ideas and get feedback. It is a mindset that Thoulathy³ hopes to instil in the trios especially when pursuing new ideas; as it helps one in figuring out which direction to go before refining the details. 

The second day of the Kick-off meeting was finished with local visits in Izmir. Local hosts from Acik Studyo invited participants to visit and meet four different local organizations: contemporary dance studio PAL Izmir, the gallery Galerie A, the contemporary art institution K2 Performance, the non-profit art collective Darağaç Collective, Karantina Mekan

Ritual Dissent – testing things in a ‘safe-to-fail’ space 

While the first two days of the meeting were dedicated to exploring working relationships and each other, in the last two days facilitators invited participants to revisit their collaboration ideas and created a space for constructive feedback from the peers. The method that was met with great excitement is called ‘Ritual Dissent’. Created by Dave Snowmen, ritual dissent is a workshop method and a listening technique designed to test and enhance sketched ideas by subjecting them to ritualised criticism, in other words to have peers challenge them. 

Having received valuable peer input and fresh ideas, each Thoulathy³ spent the last meeting day working on their collaboration idea and planning. Moreover, each team had a separate mentoring session with one or two of the L’Art Rue and MitOst team members. These consultations marked the start of the mentoring journey in «Thoulathy³: Cross-Border Collaboration», which is designed to support each collaboration team and provide them with guidance and feedback.

After a round of evaluation, the Kick-Off meeting of the Thoulathy³ was closed with a big round of applause and thanking each other. All participants and team members shared the last moments together at a closing dinner, reflecting on their learnings and cherishing new connections. The one-year journey of the «Thoulathy³: Cross-Border Collaboration» had a great start in Izmir, Turkey, and we will keep you updated on where it takes all of us! 

Photos by Constanze Flamme