The town is going to see the inauguration of the Boiling Point, a platform that will serve for discussion of projects related to the future of Troitsk. Maria Titova, programming director of the Boiling Point, is going to tell us about it.
– Hello, Maria.
– Hello. I’m glad to have you here in the Boiling Point.
– Can you explain what the Boiling Point project is all about?
– To make a long story short, the Boiling Point is an assemblage point of people and projects! Speaking of its origins, the first Boiling Point was founded in Moscow in 2013. This experimental project is run by the Agency for Strategic Initiatives, and it evolved into a network only in 2016 when first Boiling Points appeared in Saint Petersburg and Ivanovo. After that, Boiling Points started to spread out to other cities, and today there are 80 of them! It is a big number, given the network format! It is a new space for collective work, an environment absolutely unclear for many Russian people, because everyone is used to coming, listening and being a passive participant – “tell us about something.” And what we have here is an absolutely different format, a new federal format that I’m happy to welcome in Troitsk. The trend has finally reached smaller towns as well.
– What pushes the Boiling Point forward in Troitsk?
– In our case, it was a grass roots initiative, meaning that the Boiling Point is being started by entrepreneurs, proactive citizens and activists. A question arises – how is the Boiling Point going to operate? It will be located in the building of the municipal business incubator, which is initially supported by TechnoSpark that will also provide the premises and equipment, renovate the facilities, but it’s not the most important thing… What’s rather more important is the contribution made by each participant of the Boiling Point, which equals to their determination to work in a team, and the biggest contribution that is summed up by the efforts of the whole Boiling Point network is access to experts, to different kind of people who are in one way or another involved in the transformation of our society and, more globally, the future of Russia: every town and region in particular.
– You said that the project involves a great number of people. Who are the Boiling Point team?
– We call it the “nuclear group.” The team of the Boiling Point includes over 20 people already, who are residents of Troitsk and even who have recently moved here. As soon as we established our connection, it turned out that we had already been acquainted through other activities, which means we have been doing something together. Looking at the example of our collaboration, we understand that we can do something more for the town. That’s how Boiling Points come to being – they stem from the determination to change the environment, the town, and make a contribution to the future!
– There are 80 cities covered by the Boiling Point network. Why does Troitsk need it? How do the residents benefit from it?
– In my opinion, there are two reasons why Troitsk needs the Boiling Point: being a resident of Troitsk, I see that our community is very disintegrated. We have no understanding of what is going on in the town. I live in the town but I hardly know any more than 10% of the opportunities that are present here. Judging from the example of TechnoSpark, I can say that about 30% of our staff are residents of Troitsk, and when new employees arrive, say a young family, they have to settle down, they have to send their kid to school or kindergarten, they want to know about extracurricular activities, where they can have a meal, etc. The Boiling Point is a navigator for people: what is happening in the town, what life here is about, how we can improve it, what initiatives can be put into practice, what is worth being involved in… So this place acts as an assemblage of people, the Boiling Point is necessary to promote better understanding and let people communicate with one another. Many people believe that discussion clubs are all about talking… I don’t think so, as it is a platform, it is a means of communication. When you look at something through the eyes of another person, when you come to certain realizations, and you are capable of setting things in motion and making decisions. Our society and the Boiling Point both need people with a proactive attitude, outstanding individuality, people who take the bull by the horns and readily accept the individuality of others, who are willing and capable of hearing them out and taking them as they are, and, most importantly, people who can work in a team. It is boring to live when everything has been decided for you… That is why if you want to bring about changes in the town, if you are ready for this new format, the Boiling Point in the right place to go. No initiatives or changes will come through unless you make them your personal value!
– Can anyone take part in the project?
– Yes, this format is unique in the way that the Boiling Point is an event that can be put up by anybody. The only restriction is that the Boiling Point cannot serve as a ground for political, religious, commercial or agitation-provoking events. There is a platform called Leader ID; it is a digital platform, like that in social networks, where you sign in and get your personal account that you fill out with details about yourself and then you get an opportunity to start an event in the Boiling Point accessible to everyone. If you comply with all the requirements (no politics, religion, etc), you go on to create an event, give it a brief description, and it gets registered within one or two days. If all requirements are in place, your publication is approved and you can start inviting whoever you like to come. The Boiling Point provides you with the facilities, equipment, and, most importantly, expert evaluation. It means you can invite any expert from the Boiling Point network to your event if it is relevant and deemed important for the network. Which suggests that the agenda of the Boiling Point isn’t supposed to be exclusively regional, but it should also concern the federal level and that of the whole country. So the actual discussion can be about issues and projects that are important to places beyond Troitsk as well. Troitsk is too close to Moscow, and we actually make quite a big part of the Moscow agenda, and we have a number of critical issues concerning our development, in this respect, for instance, the Boiling Point could help the town population with self-identification. For example, when I ask the kids that come to Fab Lab, “Do you identify yourself as a science and tech town?” First of all, very few actually know that Troitsk is a science and tech town. Secondly, they are a far cry from science… it’s their grandmas and grandpas who work in science institutes. What identity suits residents of Troitsk, how shall they identify themselves? It’s yet to be found! We shouldn’t really turn into another residential area of Moscow, we must stick to the atmosphere of the town, its uniqueness must be nurtured and reinvented. The Boiling Points will reflect it in the names of rooms where our events will be held; it will also find its expression in the agenda that will be talked out here. So the Boiling Point is already full of meanings, topics and formats relevant to Troitsk, however they may as well be relevant to other towns.
– Maria, which programs can be taken part in?
– If you still don’t have a project of your own, or you haven’t yet made up your mind, you can take part in the talks, discussions and projects that have already made it to the Boiling Point. Even before the inauguration, there were meetings and preparations for such projects. For instance, Troitsk.Environment is a well-known project dedicated to the improvement of Troitsk, and there was a design seminar that was attended by 150 residents of the town and it was exactly here that it came to its fruition! It was where the format of this event was worked out, we figured how to engage residents, how to arrange the discussion, how to give everyone a chance to speak up their mind because the running time of the event was 4 hours and everyone had to have an opportunity to say something. We planned group work and then working groups would meet here and follow up on the results and statistics that we had at hand. So all opinions were consolidated and evolved into technical specifications for the design of Sirenevy Boulevard and the right-side Desna embankment.
There are many similar projects here, for example, we can mention your colleagues who are going to open the Troitsk school of journalism. This project is aimed at children, school pupils and those who are interested in blogging and managing telegram-channels. But it is also a way for local journalists and random visitors to improve their skills. The task of this project is to teach people how they can express themselves and give them an opportunity to learn how to use words, contemporary media and communications. It isn’t a set of skills, but rather an individual approach to everybody, the project will look at solutions to tasks that may be used by anybody. The Troitsk school of journalism is not just 40-50 people, but a few small clubs and groups carrying out self-educating activities with involvement of well-known speakers. I hope that the graduates of this school will then get their apprenticeship on Trotek TV or in Gorodskoy Ritm Newspaper.
There are other interesting projects. I’d like to say a few words about education. Education is what remains even after everything has been forgotten, and even adults are now opting for self-education. There is a club called Trajectory where people combine mixed offline and online education. You pick up an online base on some subject or science and then have offline discussions where you get your head around the task you are trying to resolve. For example, a few people have now expressed an interest to study Phyton, which is clear enough, as they are running projects that have to do with data processing, so they will be using the acquired knowledge. It is not about knowledge for the sake of knowledge, it is applied, and they need the encounters to keep their motivation going to study and support each other when facing difficulties in the education process. Self-education and lots of educational issues in the Boiling Point make very relevant, critically important areas and agenda.
– Let’s say I got interested in the school of journalism. Will there be speakers and teachers invited from Moscow?
– Yes! From Moscow and well-known magazines. The inauguration of the Boiling Point is going to feature Andrey Reznichenko, he is heading the science division at TASS. He is delivering a brief lecture here, but there will also be some public interviews. The Boiling Point basically unites different formats: lectures, seminars, master classes and various practical lessons, as well as fieldwork trips. The Troitsk school of journalism is not only a lecture section but a profound course.
– When is the Boiling Point going to open?
– Very soon! We are going to have two inaugurations because all formats and projects that have already appeared at the Boiling Point can’t fit in one day. That’s why we’ve extended it to two days – December 14 and 15. The first opening day will be dedicated to the future of the town. “Let’s define it together” is the motto! It is the first plenary session featuring such a well-known expert as Sergey Zuev (Rector of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences), guys from Troitsk.Environment, the mayor will be invited too, as well as representatives of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives and supervisors of Boiling Points. The future of Troitsk will be defined there, with the outlook on its development not only from within but also beyond as it is done in other cities. Another important aspect is education that I’ve already mentioned, it takes up the second half of the first opening day. We are going to discuss school of today and tomorrow; there are guests from the Atlas of New Professions, including the head of the project Dmitry Sudakov, Vitaly Genarov who is the head and coordinator of the University 2035 program, Alexey Shirokov heading the Natural School, Maria Grigorenko, director of the Baitik foundation. This session will feature a discussion about what our children and students are actually should be taught, whether we shall acquire the necessary skills at school or some other related spheres. The sections will be running in parallel, which means you can come in the morning with kids, say, if you wish to be present at the part about the town’s future, your kids will be kept busy at a master class in tin figurine making (the master class is for children aged 8 to 12).
It will all be packed into the first day, what’s most important about education is the New School! We call it 2100! The new school for 2100 pupils is going to open in Troitsk, and we think it’s a very large-scale project for the town, and we would like to have our say in it. I believe it should resonate with a lot of residents, as many will send their kids there, and others would like to see this school actually New. And there will be a chance for our residents to influence this process in some way. Of course, this influence isn’t going to change the building, its architecture, but we can shape the education process, teacher recruitment, specific education formats to be used there.
The second day will be aimed at schoolchildren, with the business game “Build a Company. Sell the Company.” The game has toured all around the country and has been played by 5,000 students. It took place in 30 Russian cities, and now we have adapted it for schoolchildren and are going to introduce this new format. The game is a chance to step into the shoes of an entrepreneur and try your hand at engineering art. Also, for example, the Laboratory of Troitsk Urban Studies will be running in parallel, which is another project for schoolchildren where they will be introduced to a problem at the scale of the town and start investigating solutions. I hope such investigations will encourage local normative acts and regulations that the Town Council will be bringing in, because schoolchildren sometimes manage to dig out really interesting problems and ingenious ways to resolve them.
The unusual part of the program throughout both days will feature the human-computer neurointerface laboratory where you can get hooked up and visualize your thoughts! It is an extremely interesting development, this project called Neuro Player, where you can see your own thoughts.
– So the program extends to two days and has a lot to offer, from morning to night! We’re lucky to be invited!
– I hope you will come! I’m sure you will like it!
– Maria, thank you for the interview! See you at the opening of the Boiling Point!
– There’s just one more thing. I’d like to remind you that in order to participate in the opening and events of the Boiling Point it is necessary to register at the Leader ID platform. We’re going to put up billboards around the town, as well as the QR-code for downloads and easy registrations. We will also be posting updates on social networks. Check out for the updates, we’ll be happy to see you! Thank you very much.
Program: Tema Dnya (Highlights of the Day)
Date: November 29, 2019.