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Wunderbar Together

As part of the Year of German-American Friendship last year, the ACG held a number of town halls focused on local communities. Since the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions make in-person events unfeasible, the ACG has launched a new series of virtual meetings in 2020 entitled [Virtual] Transatlantic Town Halls, held under the auspices of Wunderbar Together USA 2020 is a comprehensive and collaborative initiative funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and implemented by the Goethe-Institut.

The initiative consists of two sets of conversations. The [Virtual] Transatlantic Town Halls: German-American Mayors Forum are hour-long conversations, each with one German mayor and one U.S. mayor, providing the mayors with an opportunity to discuss how their cities have adapted due to the pandemic and how their communities are rethinking plans for the future based on both new challenges and new opportunities. The [Virtual] Transatlantic Town Halls: German Bundestag Member Dialogues are hour-long conversations with Members of the Bundestag focusing on issues such as health care infrastructure, urban development, transportation, environmental issues, digitalization and digital access, education/workforce development, social equity and cohesion, and government engagement and communication with citizens.

In 2017, San Antonio and Darmstadt established a sister city partnership to promote economic collaboration and to strengthen cooperation on a host of issues including innovative urban development, sustainable and renewable energy, and start-ups and entrepreneurial development.

On November 18, the ACG hosted a conversation between Ron Nirenberg, Mayor of San Antonio, and Jochen Partsch, Lord Mayor of Darmstadt. The two discussed the vibrant relationship which has developed between their cities and how they are collaborating on issues such as cybersecurity, urban development, and smart cities.

With a projected winner of the U.S. election now named, the transatlantic partnership faces many challenges – and there is some anxiety about how relations across the Atlantic will develop in the months and years to come. On November 10, the ACG hosted a discussion with Bundestag Members Christoph Bernstiel (CDU), Metin Hakverdi (SPD), and Katja Keul (Greens) on the election results and what it means for the future of German-American relations.

This event is part of a series of [virtual] Transatlantic Town Halls: German Bundestag Member Dialogues, which is being organized by the American Council on Germany under the auspices of WunderbarTogether USA 2020, a comprehensive and collaborative initiative funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and implemented by the Goethe-Institut.

In 2020 St. Louis and Stuttgart are celebrating the 60th anniversary of their sister city relationship which was established to encourage people-to-people and government-to-government interaction. Since 1960, numerous exchanges have taken place between the two cities that have included: business and government leaders, medical professionals, high school and university students and faculty, choral groups, chamber musicians, ballet troupes, orchestras, and athletes.

During this discussion Lyda Krewson, Mayor of St. Louis, and Fritz Kuhn, Lord Mayor of Stuttgart talked about about this successful sister city relationship, the local impact of COVID-19, and how they are addressing climate change, among other topics.

This event is part of a series of [Virtual] Transatlantic Town Halls: German-American Mayors Forum, which is being organized by the American Council on Germany under the auspices of WunderbarTogether USA 2020, a comprehensive and collaborative initiative funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and implemented by the Goethe-Institut.

The sister city relationship between Charlotte and Krefeld was established in 1986. Krefeld’s industrial economy and the common influence of the textile industries was one of the original reasons for the partnership. In the intervening years since then, both cities have undergone significant structural change. On October 20, the ACG talked with Julie Eiselt, Mayor Pro Tem in Charlotte, and Frank Meyer, Lord Mayor of Krefeld, about the current issues confronting their respective cities – and how they are preparing for the future.

This event is part of a series of [Virtual] Transatlantic Town Halls: German-American Mayors Forum, which is being organized by the American Council on Germany under the auspices of WunderbarTogether USA 2020, a comprehensive and collaborative initiative funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and implemented by the Goethe-Institut.

On October 5, the ACG and the German Consulate in New York for a discussion with young Bundestag members Gyde Jensen (FDP) and Elisabeth Kaiser (SPD) as they reflect on the 30th anniversary of German Unification – and what it means for them, given that they were young children when this historic event occurred. How do they view the development of unified Germany over the last three decades? How important is this milestone today and as Germany looks to the future?

This event is part of a series of [virtual] Transatlantic Town Halls: German Bundestag Member Dialogues, which is being organized by the American Council on Germany under the auspices of WunderbarTogether USA 2020, a comprehensive and collaborative initiative funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and implemented by the Goethe-Institut.

COVID-19 has disproportionately affected low income and minority communities, increased the digital divide, shown weakness in healthcare systems, and changed the nature of everyday life including work and education. Although Germany was able to suppress the infection rate, the pandemic has taken a toll on its social system. On August 18, the ACG hosted a webinar with Bundestag Member Ekin Deligoez (Green Party), who serves on the Bundestag’s Budget Committee and as Spokeswoman for the Bavarian Greens in the Bundestag, on the impact of the pandemic on German society.

There are a number of important issues on the transatlantic agenda. And, yet the relevance of the partnership between the United States and Germany has been called into question in recent years. From defense spending and the proposed U.S. military drawdown, to transatlantic trade and investment, to relations with other countries such as China and Russia, the German-American relationship has been charged. With the German presidency of the European Council, what can we expect for the transatlantic relationship in the months and years to come? On Tuesday, August 11, the ACG hosted a webinar with Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT), Senior Member of House Committee on Armed Services, and Bundestag Member Dr. Tobias Lindner (Die Grüne), Spokesman for Security Policy, Chairman of the Defense Committee; and moderated by Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook, Executive Director of the Future of Diplomacy Project and Executive Director of The Project on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship at the Harvard Kennedy School and Co-Director of the ACG’s Eric M. Warburg Chapter in Boston.

Cities that were built on iron, steel, and coal have had to overcome deep economic challenges and structural changes in recent decades. Both Dortmund and Pittsburgh have rebuilt themselves as thriving metropolises. However, the spread of COVID-19 is forcing cities to confront a new set of challenges. On August 7, the ACG hosted a second webinar with William Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh, and Ullrich Sierau, Mayor of Dortmund, who provided an update on how their cities have developed sustainable strategies to meet the challenges of structural change, a public health crisis, and diversity and inclusion in their communities – and how they are preparing for the future.