CONNECTED CITIES | Making strangers friends
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Connected Cities is a volunteers-led project incubated by the Transatlantic Core Group. We will add new dynamic dimensions to the existing Hamburg-Chicago sister city partnership. We aim to make strangers friends.


Our projects aim to complement the institutional dimension of an existing city partnership between Chicago and Hamburg by establishing and expanding civil society networks, an approach applicable to other city contexts. A special focus lies on actors who are currently not connected or underrepresented.

Civic engagement is a powerful resource for a city. Details of a city’s civil society landscape are rarely understood even by civil society actors themselves. But when captured properly with solid data and compelling stories, good will can be amplified and multiplied beyond their boundaries. To this end, ‘Good Will Mapping’ aims to ‘put on the map’ individual volunteers and organizations in both Hamburg and Chicago.

‘Good Will Matching’ picks up where ‘Good Will Mapping’ leaves off, building and facilitating person-to-person connections between citizens in Hamburg and Chicago via an online matching tool. Transporting the age-old concept of pen pals to the digital realm, we aim to provide curious and interested residents the opportunity to get to know their counterparts across the Atlantic. We’re gonna make strangers friends.

‘Good Will Future’ focuses on underrepresented youth from underserved communities for whom, despite their curiosity and personal ambitions, extraordinary obstacles stand in the way of transatlantic connections and friendships. This exchange program will aim to bring young people from Hamburg to Chicago and vice versa for a short-term exchange centered around a joint volunteer experience. The exchange program will include basic language and cultural immersion training.


We wish to empower traditionally left out of transatlantic relations, creating new opportunities for them to connect and to showcase their capacity for goodwill. By creating a larger tent under which new actors can see themselves invested in transatlantic relations, we hope to harness more fully the power of civil society in carrying the German-American friendship forward. Our projects add new layers to the sister city partnership between Chicago and Hamburg, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2019. On the eve of this momentous occasion, the projects aim to highlight the capacity of local citizens and to better engage local stakeholders in the task of strengthening U.S.-Germany relations.


The project and its various activities will be driven by members of the Transatlantic Core group working on volunteer basis. The Transatlantic Core Group (TCG) was initiated in 2015 by the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt and supported by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the Atlantic Council and the Bosch Foundation with the aim of promoting Responsible Leadership in the Transatlantic context.