Bereits Ende 2020 erhielten wir die freudige Nachricht: Unser Antrag für eine Erasmus Plus Strategische Partnerschaft in der Erwachsenenbildung war erfolgreich! Gemeinsam mit Partnern aus Irland, Finnland und der Türkei erarbeiten wir einen Leitfaden für die Methodik des Dritten Ortes. Dabei geht es darum, unsere Einrichtungen zu öffnen und mit den Menschen zusammen unsere Bildungsangebote weiterzuentwickeln.
Leider konnten wir uns bisher nur online treffen. Umso mehr haben wir uns gefreut, als unsere Partner uns nun im Oktober zum ersten Mal für ein Projekttreffen hier in Aalen besuchen kommen konnten. Dabei ging es auch um viel Theorie und Inhalte, nicht zuletzt in Vorbereitung auf ein Training, für das die Partner im Januar zu uns eingeladen sind.
Michael Walling, der Künstlerische Leiter des Theaters „Border Crossings“ in Irland, hat uns einen persönlichen Bericht über unser Projekttreffen in Aalen geschickt, den wir hier gerne im Original posten. Ihm gefiel besonders, was wir über unser Projekt „Bring Dich Ein- Your Voice Matters“, und hier vor allem die Wünsche an die OB-Kandidat:innen und die Symbolische Bundestagswahl berichten konnten.
After the interminable Covid delays, it was an absolute joy finally to meet our partners on the X-European project in person. The project’s focus is the Third Space as a site for intercultural dialogue, so meeting real people is incredibly important. If there’s one thing we have learnt from the endless Zooms of our different lockdowns, it is that the internet is anything but a Third Space: it is very emphatically owned, and its vagaries dictate a great deal of what happens there, as well as privileging some voices over others. We can and should learn from the experience, and assess the contrast with physical meetings.
Of course, physical spaces are also owned in different ways, and that is why it matters for Erasmus + projects to be held across the different partners’ locations. Our first meeting was in Aalen, and so there was a clear sense that our hosts, VHS Aalen, would lead the way in terms of agenda and local knowledge. Nicole and Claudia were clearly very aware of the responsibilities that come with the hosting role, and the need to acknowledge that host and guest are different. This awareness has clearly fed into their understanding of the Third Space, informing the projects they presented to us.
I was particularly excited by the work they had done around elections. In one project, they had curated a Third Space which allowed migrant groups to meet directly with candidates for the mayoralty – including (astonishingly) the candidate from the far-right AFD. This encounter, where the (disfranchised) migrants presented their policy needs to the candidates, could never have happened without hosting: the careful curation of a Third Space belonging to neither the candidates nor the migrant groups. This is not to say that it was a neutral space – it was clearly made with intention and meaning – but it was a space that VHS Aalen curated as a space, with the invited guests being able to operate freely once they were in it.
The “mock election” was even more powerful, and excited me as a theatre-maker because of its performance-like qualities. Booths were set up in the town on election day, with passers-by being asked whether they had the right to vote. Those who did not (which effectively meant the migrant population) were offered the chance to demonstrate who they would vote for if they could, while those who did have the vote were able to state whether they thought the franchise should be expanded to include migrant populations. Again, the space created and curated by VHS Aalen was an open one in which participants could do as they wished. The role of the host was to offer the possibility.
This detailed curation, and the openness of the offer are important learning points from our first meeting. A Third Space is not a classroom or a training ground. It is a free space in which different parties are enabled to meet as equals. This is remarkably difficult to achieve – but VHS Aalen’s work around elections seems to me to be exemplary.