Article index
Issue #006 articles
Issue #006 Published: 18-03-2016 // Written by: Madalina Preda
Robin Food - the idealist kitchen
On Mondays and Thursdays the side door inside De Nieuwe Anita opens into a world of delicious, home-cooked vegetarian food. Welcome to the Robin Food kitchen!  The front of De Nieuwe Anita was packed with people standing and eating slices of carrot and coconut cake. The cakes were made by Anne, the owner and cook of the food initative, Robin Food. She started the kitchen behind De Nieuwe Anita three years ago, together with her best friend, Branko. Anne was no stranger to cooking for bigger groups. She worked in an Indonesian restaurant when she was younger and she also used to cook in squats. Cooking is her favourite thing to do and she loves it because it’s one of the easiest jobs you can do, she thinks. “You cook for people, you put food in their mouth, they are happy, then your job is done. It doesn’t get easier than that.” Anne and Branko run the business together, with help from a few volunteers. “Most volunteers come to help out for a few days, but end up staying with us for as long as 2-3 months because they feel like home, like they are part of the family.” Anne also hosts cooking workshops for children at the Robin Food kitchen. She teaches the kids how to cook all sorts of stuff, like pizza, pesto, soups, cakes, smoothies or pancakes. “We want to be educational by example. No one wants to be told what to do, and especially what to eat. We are not preaching vegetarianism, but I think the fact that our kitchen is always packed and fully booked shows that people love eating vegetarian and vegan food,” she says. Although she doesn’t preach, Anne does dream of an ideal world. “The ideal world for me would be one in which nobody eats animals and where we all take care of each other, not just ourselves.” The people who come to eat at Robin Food are a mixed bunch – students, entrepreneurs, artists, activists, people on dates or people on business meetings, people who are life-long vegans or people who are trying to cut down on their meat consumption. Anne is happy to see there is such a big interest in vegetarian food. “The problem with the food system today,” she thinks, “is that everyone only thinks about efficiency – how can we feed as many people as possible, in the shortest amount of time, using the least amount of resources. That’s why we have monocultures, pesticides, GMOs and a thousand cows in one stable. There is enough food for everyone, but the problem is it doesn’t get to the people that need it.” After all the guests leave the kitchen, Anne turns the music up, opens a bottle of beer and finally sits down and eats something with the rest of the team. They talk about the feeling of home and about ideals, like you do at a family dinner table. “If everyone would cut down on meat, buy organic, local and seasonal as much as possible and share it with the people that need it most, we would have a healthy food system,” she says. “I have never been an activist, I don’t like to preach. But maybe my food speaks for itself.” Robin Food kitchen serves delicious vegetarian dinners every Monday and Thursday, from 6pm, at De Nieuwe Anita.  
Issue #006 Published: 17-03-2016 // Written by: Quico Touw
Interview Amsterdam Alternative – Nina van der Weiden
“Although Amsterdam might often remind you of Disneyland in terms of its crowds, do not be fooled by the rental bikes in bright green, yellow or red colours, the winter caps with ‘Amsterdam’ written on them in bold letters or the coffee shops with Dutch treats. Whereas Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck head back home after closing, Amsterdammers actually live in Amsterdam…” Nina van der Weiden (1989) a political scientist and writer of How to Avoid the Other Tourists – Amsterdam. A tour guide that represents the Amsterdam ‘Amsterdammers’ live in. We met up for an interview: 1. Hi Nina, you wrote a great and unique tour guide, but nowadays there are so many online blogs and other tour guides, how is yours different? I was aware of the huge number of blogs and tour guides already available about Amsterdam. However, in my opinion, most of the blogs and tour guides show the same Amsterdam: the canals, Museum square, hipster restaurants and so on. What I missed in all those blogs and tour guides was the true Amsterdam experience of Amsterdam. Moreover, the blogs and already existing tour guides are filled with somewhat standardized language usage and pictures. Therefore my main focus lies on the content. I also replaced the pictures with illustrations. And all of the tour guide is black and white. I do not think that a city as Amsterdam needs brightly coloured pictures to attract people to the city. 2. Your book is also for Amsterdammers. Isn’t difficult to convince Amsterdammers that they probably don’t know their own city that well? Well, it is not about convincing them that they do not know their own city that well. It is about convincing them that there is much more to discover in their own city that they weren’t aware of. A more positive spin. When you have lived your whole life in one place you have your habits and fixed bars and restaurants where you meet up with friends and family. Usually you will not put much effort in discovering every hidden gem in town. But, when you are on holiday, backpack trip or exchange you want to explore every square metre of a city and go off the beaten track. Well, that is at least how I am. My tour guide is a bit of holiday for Amsterdammers in their own city.  3. What does ‘Amsterdam Alternative’ mean to you and how does it relate to your guide? Amsterdam Alternative shows the strength of collaboration. This unity of non-profit venues is the perfect example of the one plus one is three principle.  The resemblance between AA and How to Avoid the Other Tourists Amsterdam is the underground/underdog position of both. We both ignore the mainstream and put emphasis on uniqueness. Moreover, we are both independent. Where many guides and blogs are being paid by restaurants, museums or music venues to write something about them, How to Avoid the Other Tourists Amsterdam wanted to keep the tour guide as ‘clean’ as possible and therefore as legit as possible. In addition, both AA as How to Avoid the Other Tourists Amsterdam have been self-published.  4. Amsterdam has been changing quickly over the last decade. Neighbourhoods that used to be ‘no-go’ areas are now the most popular places to live. The gentrification process of Amsterdam is in full swing. There are many things to say on this subject, but relating to your guide, what have you seen of this process during your research? I wrote my tour guide in about 1,5 year and a lot has changed in only 1,5 years’ time. Especially the waterfront along the IJ in Amsterdam Noord, Bos&Lommer in West and the Transvaalbuurt in East are experiencing a huge increase in restaurants, bars and refurbished houses mainly for young urban professionals. My aim while writing this tour guide was not to write about every new hotspot or hipster venue like many blogs do, but a guide that covers an Amsterdam that Amsterdammers in general know.  5. How can your guide help neighbourhoods keep their identity and (partly) prevent further gentrification? I do not believe that my guide (or any other guide) can prevent further gentrification, actually I think it is hard in general to prevent gentrification. I do think that my guide helps neighbourhoods in keeping their identity. I emphasize the different identities of each neighbourhood. The neighbourhoods in Amsterdam are rather small, but the funny thing is that they all have an unique character. I believe that the identity of a neighbourhood is guaranteed by emphasizing the differences between them. 6. Whats next? How to Avoid the Other Tourists – Stockholm / Barcelona / Berlin? A dream of mine is to become the new standard tour guide for unknown places. I would love to make a series with all the capitals of Europe. My next project will probably be Barcelona since Barcelona is having many issues with tourists, especially during spring and summer time. The inhabitants of Barcelona are even protesting against the number of tourists and put banners in front of their balconies with ‘tourists go home’. Wouldn’t it be lovely to change that vibe by writing a tour guide? www.howtoavoidtheothertourists.com  
Issue #006 Published: 15-03-2016 // Written by: Geert & Marit
Volta’s 21st Birthday - a brief history
On April 21st Volta will turn 21, moving on to adulthood! This will be celebrated on Saturday 23rd from 16:00 till 23:00. With live performances and showcases of the variety Volta has to offer as a podium, popschool and workshops for young Amsterdam. But also some time to reflect. Herewith a small history outline on Volta:  The name Volta refers to its former function: the building started out as an electricity distribution station, belonging to the Westergas factory. The managing director of the distribution centre that time lived in the house next to Volta. In 1915 is was designed by Dienst Publieke Werken commissioned by Gemeente-Electriciteitswerken, a precursor to the Amsterdamse GEB.  An extension of the building was created by Albert Boeken in 1922. After the Westergas factory closed down in the late sixties, the distribution centre closed as well. It was until the mid 90’s that the building remained unused at the Houtmankade. In 1995 Volta was established as a talent and sports centre as part of Stichting Welzijn Westerpark. Volta offered a stage, rehearsal rooms and sport activities for the youth in the Spaarndammer, - Staatslieden and Zeeheldenbuurt. At first Volta focussed mainly on youth work in the neighborhood, but soon and ever since attracted bands, participants, volunteers and audience from  the whole of Amsterdam.  In the coming years the music genres that passed by, are countless: pop, rock, funk, heavy metal, punk, singer songwriter, hip hop, reggae, kawina, rai, etc. The past years the emphasis has been on: pop/ rock/ heavy metal/ DJ’s/ electronic music. Volta’s events are mainly organised by interns and young volunteers since the beginning. Here they have a playground to gain experience in the cultural field. There has been a poetry performance club, a stand up comedy club, diverse music clubs (like hip hop and metal), divers theater projects and nowadays DJ showcases and band nights for young local bands: Volta’s Local Playground.  Thousands of acts have performed in Volta or visited the music lessons or other workshops. Quite a few known bands/musicians once had one of their first performances in Volta: de Jeugd van Tegenwoordig, Back to the Zoo, Silverfaces, Mister and Missisipi, Lucky Fonz III, Douwe Bob etc.  Over the years the frequency of the performances has increased a lot. Nowadays, not only bands perform on Thursdays, but also on Fridays and in the weekends there is a program. Volta works together with different organisations who organise events and activities for different groups. Besides a stage Volta offers a rehearsal studio, pop school (guitar, singing, piano, drums and band lessons), workshops and a sports hall. For the workshops Volta cooperates a lot with schools. Every Wednesday there is a restaurant, run by youngsters from the  neighborhood, supervised by a professional cook. On April 23rd we celebrate Volta’s 21st birthday and will introduce you to the program!  Free entrance before 20:00 Guestlist only from 20:00: volta.gastenlijst@gmail.com
Issue #006 Published: 11-03-2016 // Written by: Sebastiaan Olma
Fair City: Beyond the Ideological Trinity of Innovation
1. Imagining the Future: Europe by People There is a bit of future in the Amsterdam air these days. From January to June, our city is hosting the events around the Dutch EU presidency. While the old Navy Terrain, Amsterdam’s latest creative city development, hopes to get a boost from hosting the official meetings, there is also a cultural fringe program called Europe by People. And this is where the future comes in because that’s what “Europe by People” is all about: “the future of everyday living,” the future of our city. Pakhuis de Zwijger, Amsterdam’s headquarters for all things innovative, has taken the lead in developing a vision on said future of everyday living. In a series of meetings and conferences, ‘experts’, ‘change makers’ and ‘pioneers’ are set to work toward something called the New Europe City Makers Agenda. And to give us a bit of a taste of what the city in this New Europe is going to be like, a Fabcity is being built at the head of Amsterdam’s Java island. Now, imagining the future is a tricky business. Pundits and futurologists usually get it wrong because they tend to imagine the future as a technological update of the present (“in ten years, we will all 3D-print our shoes at home,” etc). This approach doesn’t even work for good science fiction as it defines the future as a linear, calculable succession of the present. It’s not only boring but also the exact opposite of what history teaches us. And here we encounter the first big problem in our current relationship to the future: forgetting the past. Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde, mouthpiece of the Dutch design and innovation scene, has recently praised the Millennials for their innovative worldview. “We are thinking,” he said, counting himself in, “not from the past but from the future.” While it is absolutely unclear what this statement actually means, the forgetfulness of the past that it suggests is of course anything but an advantage when it comes to imagining a desirable future. Throughout history, whenever there was an innovative impetus toward a better future, it came about as a reaction to the then present conditions that where seen by a sufficient amount of people as worthy of disruption. Think enlightenment, think social and political revolutions, etc. The drive towards a better future always starts from an analysis of present conditions and the (past) processes that have let to these conditions. So, no, thinking from the future is not the way to get to a different, desirable, better future. This isn’t rocket science, it’s simply logic.  The only instant in which thinking from the future would actually work is if one knew in advance what the future was going to look like. Of course, such a claim would be utterly nonsensical and our New Europe City Makers don’t quite pretend to have a time machine at hand. However, they engage in a sort of light version of this logical fallacy by having an entire toolbox of solutions ready before even looking at potential problems and challenges. This toolbox contains things like “smart city,” “circular economy,” “digital design,” “urban farming,” “peer-to-peer society” and so on. The problem here is that these tools set an agenda for the future city that has nothing to do with a Europe by People in the sense of democratic or even bottom-up decision making. Instead, they are the result of a trickle down effect from the Californian Ideology, i.e., Silicon Valley’s corporate philosophy that combines libertarian economics with reactionary politics and a dash of hippie spirituality. One of the main vehicles through which this ideology ensures its grip on European policy making is the consultant-driven complex that has been built around the so-called creative industries policies. Through infotainment formats such as TEDx and the selective programming of local outlets such as Pakhuis de Zwijger, the Californian Ideology has managed to confine our thinking about the future to an ideological space defined by three major paradigms: (social) entrepreneurship, digital technology and community politics. Together, these paradigms form an ideological trinity of innovation, bringing forth tools and approaches whose track record is remarkable only in one respect: upholding the status quo. 2. Social Entrepreneurship: An Exercise in (Self-)Deception   Take social entrepreneurship. It promises to overcome the dualism between market and social progress; doing social good by using the market as vehicle. There is nothing wrong with this per se except, perhaps, for the fact that much of social entrepreneurship fails its own entrepreneurial aspirations by massively relying on sponsors and government subsidies. Pioneerspost.com, an Internet bulletin for the social entrepreneurship scene has recently drawn attention to this phenomenon:  “The social entrepreneur PR industry grows all the time and is hungry for content and personalities. This is dangerous and results in people being hailed as saviours and game changers when their business models are nowhere near proven – still less the damaging, unintended consequences known and understood.”  Harmonising the logic of the market and social progress turns out to be a bit more difficult empirically than the proponents of social entrepreneurship want to make us belief. This isn’t really surprising: there is a basic logical conflict between entrepreneurial innovation and social innovation. Within the economy, the necessity to innovate is a result of the logic of competition that requires – today at increasingly shorter intervals – the introduction of new products and services (for consumption) as well as the renewal of machinery and processes (for production). While for every self-respecting business man or woman the outcome of these processes are sufficient to define progress, for the proponents of social entrepreneurship, it is not. Innovation in the economic sense is one of the major drivers of the logic of economic growth, which is exactly what causes many of the problems social entrepreneurship is bent on solving. It stabilises the system rather than setting off processes leading to the “systemic change” that the rhetoric of social entrepreneurship promises.  3. Digital Hubris: Measuring Amsterdam The second paradigm of the ideological trinity of innovation that the New Europe City Makers adhere to is an obsession with digital technology. A particularly problematic expression of this obsession can be found with regard to “redesigning democracy” - another of their important themes. The idea behind it is that democratic processes can be digitally redesigned by crafty design experts building prototypes that are then ‘rolled-out’ or ‘scaled’ just like products of the digital economy. I am not exactly sure where such an infantile understanding of political process is coming from but it surely is reminiscent of Buckminster Fuller’s hubris of the “comprehensive designer” that had quite some traction with the hippies in the 1960s. Fuller was an extremely smart and creative man but his failure - which was also, to an extent, that of the hippies - was to believe politics could be substituted by design sages conducting society from a place outside and above it.  Today, digital upgrades of Fuller’s failed fantasies have returned to haunt us once again. An extremely worrying version of this is developed right now by Citizen Data Lab at Amsterdam’s polytechnic, the HvA. Based on a Big Data gathering tool called Measuring Amsterdam, Citizen Data Lab has begun to design “blueprints containing information on local knowledge for the purpose of starting grass-root initiatives.” However this is exactly supposed to work, providing potential grass-root initiatives with blueprints seems to somewhat defy their purpose. Anyone who has ever had anything to do with this kind initiatives knows that the process of talking to neighbours and discovering that they share (or don’t) one’s concerns, add others or sway one’s opinions is an absolutely essential part of the process. To believe that this should be short-circuited by a Big Data tool represents a remarkable form of cybernetic naivety, modelling social interaction on the disembodied information exchange of computers. If such reductive thinking turned into social or indeed, governmental practice, the effect on the vitality of the city would be disastrous. And if we were to follow Roosegaarde’s advice and think about this from the perspective of the future, a situation comes to mind in which local activism in a fully functional Smart City either complies with the requirements of prefabricated Big Data templates or looses its legitimacy. Add to this the possibility of an extreme right-wing party taking power in The Netherlands and a scenario emerges in which a tool like Measuring Amsterdam could be put to all kinds of despicable purposes. 4. Redesigning Democracy: Technologies of Changeless Change The fact of the matter is that the idea of digitally redesigning democracy, citizenship or activism is absolute nonsense even if it doesn’t lead to such excrescences of academic irresponsibility. People have struggled for centuries to put in place political institutions that allow for at least a minimum of (democratically legitimated) social steering. The fact that these institutions do not function as efficiently and effectively as we would like them to, that they might even have become corrupted by anti-democratic interests, motivations and so on, does not mean that it has suddenly become possible to bypass the complexities of social life by way of digital design processes. The only effect of such attempts at “redesigning democracy” is cementing a practice of “changeless change” (Naomi Klein), i.e., a simulation of social or political progress that simultaneously upends current practices and studiously protects existing wealth and power inequities. For those who are willing to look, there is already quite a bit of the writing on the wall in this respect. We have witnessed countless social design challenges, safaris, and retreats whose pretentions reached from solving the Greek debt-crisis to prototyping the sustainable society. What makes these kinds of seemingly innocent attempts to try something new in the face of ‘wicked problems’ so dangerous is that they normalise the idea of social and political activism as pure gesture. The prototype becomes the therapeutic excuse for real political engagement without which ‘making the world a better place’ remains a fatal mixture of infantilism and hyperbole. And this is why we must call these pretentious change-gymnastics ideological: because they try to replace political activism with prefabricated gestures of change. If you want the world to remain as it is, this kind of social design is the thing to do.  5. Beyond Community: A Fair City for All Which brings us to the third paradigm of the ideological trinity of innovation: community politics. This entails the really important question of what a political activism that is both honest and efficacious could or should look like today. According to the New Europe City Makers, community is really the key here. Small scale, peer-to-peer, distributed, etc. is the way to go if one really wants to systematically change the world, or, perhaps to begin with, the city. Again, I am quite at a loss as to why this gospel attracts so many believers when there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever for successful political change through community organisation in modern, complex societies. From the Lebensreform movements of the early 20th century to the hippies in the 1960s, the cyberians and netizens of the 1990s through to the very recent projects of, say, the P2P-foundation, community activism has the most abysmal track record when it comes to instigating, let alone accomplishing, “systemic change.” Of course, one cannot but have the greatest sympathies for those who are arguing that ‘in small groups and communities we can at least do something’, ‘small steps are better than no steps’, ‘better to do something in you local context than do nothing at all’ and so on. However, the problem here is scale. Your small scale, community-driven initiative might have the noblest ends; it is always in danger of being perverted as long as the system that governs its environment is badly programmed. And this, unfortunately, is the case today with the bad programming going under the name of neoliberal politics.  Consider one of Amsterdam’s most successful and socially responsible developments of recent years: De Hallen. It’s a former tram depot redeveloped into a local food market, including hotel, cinema and restaurant but also with loads of social entrepreneurship, dozens of jobs for people who would otherwise have never found employment, social functions like a library and so on. And yet, its most noticeable effect is a 50% hike in housing prices in the area.    Yes, this is a very specific example but it illustrates why ‘making the world a better place’ doesn’t work at the level of community or neighbourhood initiatives anymore. Change, if it wants to be systemic, has to happen at the level of the system. It is obvious that this kind of change unavoidably begins at the local level but it cannot stay there. What the New Europe City Makers Agenda wants is to use its intellectual and technological leverage to lock potential dissent and truly disruptive change in the urban garden of neighbourhood therapy. The city as a grass-root Zoo! This is what the continuous chatter on community is all about. The sociologist Richard Sennett warned us of this tendency already in the 1970s and his diagnosis has never been more topical: “Community becomes a weapon against society, whose great vice is now seen to be its impersonality. But a community of power can only be an illusion in a society like that of the industrial West, one in which stability has been achieved by a progressive extension to the international scale of structures of economic control. In sum, the belief in direct human relations on an intimate scale has seduced us from converting our understanding of the realities of power into guides for our political behaviour. The result is that the forces of domination or inequity remain unchallenged.”    Last week, on one of the rare occasions that a critical voice sounded through the halls of Pakhuis de Zwijger, a professor of city marketing (of all things!) reminded her audience what these forces of domination and inequity are today: the international finance markets and the docile governments that turn our cities into souvenir shops on their behalf. Any project for a sustainable, desirable future of the European city has to take this realisation as its point of departure. And this means politicising our thinking about the urban future beyond 3D-printers, aquaponic installations and smart citizen kits. It is time to close the smart playground and act again like grown up citizens who take their city as seriously as they take themselves!  If we want to build a desirable future for our city, we have to step out of the ideological trinity of innovation and look at our city unconditioned by consulting slogans and policy fashions. Fortunately, there is a growing movement in Amsterdam that is trying to do exactly that: Amsterdam Fair City. It is a platform of initiatives and groups from all walks of life and with all kinds of motivations (see Fair City komt op stoom in this issue of AA). What they share is a concern for the city that emerges right out its gritty reality. It comes from a place of defiant love, where people are in touch with the struggles and joys of their hometown. It is open to everyone who believes that fairness should define the rules of the game when it comes to building the future of Amsterdam. And because of that, it necessarily has to be a movement that entails conflict and dissent as part of a democratic process toward a Fair City. No happy-go-lucky chimaeras of city marketing here. Amsterdam doesn’t want to be a Smart City. Or a Creative City. Or – Mokum forbid – a Happy City. Amsterdam wants to be a Fair City.    Sebastian Olma is an Amsterdam-based author and critic. His latest book, In Defence of Serendipity. For a Radical Politics of Innovation will be published later this year by Repeater Books London. 
Issue #006 Published: 09-03-2016 // Written by: Filmofiel.nl
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret (2014)
De documentaire ‘Cowspiracy’ is al bijna twee jaar oud maar de boodschap is nog steeds zeer actueel. Misschien wel actueler dan elk ander onderwerp. Vandaar dat we onderstaande review wilden plaatsen en iedereen oproepen de documentaire te bekijken. ‘Cowspiracy’ draait op 1 maart in de OT301 (Mixtree). Onderstaande review is afkomstig van www.filmofiel.nl Het grootste ‘probleem’ met dit soort documentaires is dat je vaak niet weet hoe betrouwbaar de getoonde gegevens zijn. Zo schreef ik over Forks over Knives ooit: “…als het waar is wat de gerenommeerde artsen in deze documentaire beweren, dan is dit écht de belangrijkste documentaire die ik ooit heb gezien…“, en van die documentaire weet ik nog altijd niet zeker hoe betrouwbaar die is. De makers van Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret zullen dat betrouwbaarheidsprobleem (h)erkend hebben, want op Cowspiracy.com kun je zelf onderzoek doen naar alle statements die ze maken. En eigenlijk is de enige conclusie dan dat we deze planeet enkel nog kunnen redden als we bijna ‘ultiem drastisch’ onze vleesconsumptie reduceren. Maar wat deze zeer goed gemaakte documentaire net zo belangrijk maakt, is dat het tracht te achterhalen waarom grote milieuorganisaties als Greenpeace, Oceana e.v.a. de nummer 1-milieu-verkrachter niet benoemen… Het verhaal Goed opgezet en heel persoonlijk volgen we Kip Andersen, één van de twee regisseurs, in z’n zoektocht hoe hij zijn leven zo in kan richten dat hij de aarde milieutechnisch het minste belast. Ooit zwaar onder de indruk van An Inconvenient Truth van Al Gore douchte hij korter, scheidde hij al z’n afval, et cetera. Na verloop van tijd begon hij zich echter af te vragen of dat überhaupt wel nut had, en na wat gesurf ontdekte hij vrij snel dat de VN in 2006 al meldde dat de vleesindustrie in z’n eentje al veel meer broeikasgassen produceert dan al het auto-, trein-, vlieg- en vrachtverkeer in de hele wereld bij elkaar. Direct vroeg hij zich af waarom Gore het daar in z’n documentaire niet over had, en dat is het begin van een reis langs ontzettend veel grote milieuorganisaties, waarbij vooral Greenpeace opvalt door hun onbereidwilligheid om te reageren op de vraag waarom zij het in hun strijd dus nooit over de vleesindustrie hebben. Maar gelukkig liet Andersen en z’n co-regisseur Keegan Kuhn zich daardoor niet tegenhouden en was hij vindingrijk genoeg om dieper te graven. En wat ze toen ontdekten, daar kun je aardig down van raken, om even een understatement te gebruiken. Maar gelukkig hebben ze de documentaire wel zo geknipt dat er aan het eind nog iets van hoop geboden wordt… Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret-recensie: hopelijk opent dit ieders ogen... Feiten en cijfers Dat er in Brazilië in de afgelopen 20 jaar zo’n 1100 milieuactivisten zijn vermoord (die streden tegen de ontbossing van het Amazone-regenwoud), dat is natuurlijk al een feit dat je eigenlijk helemaal niet wilt geloven. En het feit dat voor elke liter melk die je drinkt 1000 (!) liter water nodig is om het te produceren, dat deed mijn ogen ook flink groter worden. Net als dat het eten van één hamburger qua waterverbruik overeenkomt met ongeveer vier uur douchen. Of dat een Big Mac mogelijk maar vier dollar kost, maar als je de geëxternaliseerde kosten (voor gezondheidszorg, vervuiling) daarin zou betrekken, die burger eigenlijk elf dollar zou moeten kosten (die zeven dollar wordt dus betaald uit hoge zorgpremies en belastingen, dus door iedereen!). Feiten die bijna verlammend werken als je na gaat denken over het feit dat jij enkel je eigen leven ‘controleert’, terwijl er dus nog zo’n zeven miljard andere mensen op deze planeet rondlopen. Om dan nog maar niet te spreken over het horrorscenario dat je je voor kunt stellen als je nadenkt wat er gaat gebeuren als die bijna drie miljard Chinezen en Indiërs ook zo’n 90 tot 100 kilogram vlees per jaar gaan eten (zoals wij in het westen doen), waar ze nu nog slechts zo’n 35 kilogram per jaar eten. Interviews De lijst geïnterviewden voor deze documentaire is echt verschrikkelijk lang. Van ‘bekendere’ namen als Michael Pollan en Howard Lyman (ooit zwaar bekritiseerd omdat hij – overigens als voormalig veeboer – iets te eerlijk over de vleesindustrie praatte bij Oprah) tot vertegenwoordigers van Sea Shepherd, Oceana, R.A.N., Sierra Club en de Surfrider Foundation. Grote afwezige hierin was Greenpeace, maar net als enkele van bovengenoemde vertegenwoordigers durfden bijvoorbeeld ook vertegenwoordigers van de organisatie die zich bezighoudt met waterbeheer in Californië (een nogal actueel onderwerp, gezien de grote droogte daar) zich eigenlijk niet te wagen om te praten over de vleesindustrie. Heeft één van de machtigste lobby’s ter wereld ervoor gezorgd dat de grootste milieuorganisaties ter wereld de nummer 1-oorzaak niet durven benoemen? Raar om te zien dat ze dus wel iemand van de Animal Agriculture Alliance (de veehouderijlobby) spreken, maar Greenpeace niet. Overigens wel goed om te zien hoe die PR-dame zich uiteindelijk maar stil houdt als de vragen té kritisch worden. En dat Andersen c.s. daarbij te dicht bij de waarheid kwamen blijkt wel uit het feit dat vrij snel na dat gesprek één van de financiers van de documentaire zich ineens terugtrok uit het project… Final credits Mogelijk moet ik melden dat ik vlees ontzettend lekker vind, maar ik ben ook blij dat ik zo’n twee jaar geleden besloot dat nog enkel in het weekend te eten. Na het zien van deze documentaire voel ik me daar ook niet zo geweldig meer bij (een lichte vorm van carnisme voel ik dus ook nog wel), zeker als je weet dat iemand die vlees eet achttien keer meer land nodig heeft voor zijn/haar voedsel dan iemand die veganistisch eet. Cijfers die gebaseerd zijn op onder andere VN-rapporten (en via de link in m’n intro ook verifieerbaar), dus ik neem aan dat ze betrouwbaar zijn. En die cijfers spreken zo voor zich, dat als we nu niet eens écht actie gaan ondernemen als mensheid, dat we – ondanks onze technologische grandeur en geweldig ontwikkelde brein – uiteindelijk mogelijk in de geschiedenisboeken zullen belanden als de meest mislukte diersoort ooit..?   www.cowspiracy.com  
Issue #006 Published: 08-03-2016 // Written by: Fair City
Manifestatie Amsterdam FAIRcity
FAIRcity is een recent opgericht open platform voor initiatieven, organisaties en personen die staan voor een eerlijk Amsterdam.  Directe aanleiding voor haar ontstaan is het in juni 2016 tijdens de Euro Top in Amsterdam te presenteren “Pact Van Amsterdam’. Een Europese nota over stedelijk beleid en regelgeving. De focus ligt daarin op de toename van economische investeringen. FAIRcity wil aan dit eenzijdig beeld van wat een stad moet zijn tegenwicht bieden. Een stad gaat over mensen, niet alleen over regels en economie. De stad is geen wingewest.  FAIRcity wil een stem geven aan die groepen die zich bezig houden met de andere kant van city-marketing: de realiteit van de stad. Huurdersgroepen, wijk initiatieven, vluchtelingenorganisaties. Dak- en thuislozen. Groepen en individuen die zich bezighouden met gentrificatie en de economische tweedeling. Problemen die de consequentie zijn van de op economische groei gerichte stad.  FAIRcity wil een eerlijke stad laten zien waar zaken als diversiteit, milieuvriendelijkheid, betaalbaar wonen, kleinschaligheid, goede sociale voorzieningen, gelijke kansen en een ontspannen sfeer centraal staan. Een stad die niet gaat over geld verdienen, maar duurzaam samenleven. Het gaat niet alleen om Amsterdam. Er wordt ook gekeken naar ervaringen in andere Europese steden zoals Barcelona en Londen. FAIRcity maakt een vuist. De verandering en de actie naar een eerlijjke stad moeten we duidelijk maken op straat tussen en met de burgers. Niet op een podium wat met citymarketing geld een programma maakt voor professionals die burgerinitiatieven opzetten.  Op zondag 29 mei viert FAIRcity haar oprichting met een manifestatie in Paradiso. Een feestelijk internationaal debat over de eerlijke stad. Een opwindend tegengeluid voorafgaand aan de de afsluitende Europese Top over stedelijk beleid. Sinds de start zijn een aantal initiatief meetings geweest en hebben een groot aantal groepen en personen zich aangesloten. Tijdens de meetings zijn plannen gemaakt om samen de stad te laten bruisen in aanloop naar het weekend van 29 mei.  Wil je ook een FAIR- ie worden? Meld je aan op Info@FAIRcity.amsterdam Een overzicht van de activiteiten:  In de komende maanden worden thema bijeenkomsten georganiseerd  - FAIR finance: is er een alternatief voor neo -liberale stadsontwikkleing - Air BnB of FAIR BnB? Wat is goed gastheerschap? - De positie van ouderen op de woningmarkt van AMsterdam in Claverhuis op de Elandsgracht - Het opzetten van huurderscooporaties ism Soweto, Copekabana en HuurdersSyndikaat - Positie van bruikleners op de woningmarkt ism Bond Precaire Woonvormen, Kolenkitbuurt Volg de info op: www.FAIRcity.amsterdam  Voorafgaand aan de manifestatie zijn er ludieke acties in heel Amsterdam. Mei - Filmmaand over Gentrificatie en FAIRcity in Filmhuis Cavia Films over de strijd om de stad. www.filmhuiscavia.nlAmsterdam INURA public event Amsterdam FAIRcity - International lessons Maandag 9 mei 2016, Plantagedok, Amsterdam  INURA INURA, International Network for Urban Research and Action, is een informeel network van activisten en academici. Het brengt theoretici en uitvoerders die een kritisch zijn over de hedendaagse stad samen. Inura heeft wereldwijd afdelingen.   INURA Amsterdam wil het internationaal netwerk gebruiken om voorbeelden van stedelijke beleid in verschillende Europese steden te overdenken en te bespreken.  Info:  www.inura.org. Medio mei: Lezing van Ewald Engelen over Fair and Grounded City Ewald Engelen geeft een voor presentatie van zijn essay voor The Guardian later dat jaar.   Manifestatie Amsterdam FAIRcity  Zondag 29 mei, Paradiso - van 13.30 tot 16 uur (grote zaal) en tot 17 uur (kleine zaal)  Naast muziek en performance is er een interactief debat over de strategie hoe een open en eerlijke stad te realiseren.  
Issue #006 Published: 07-03-2016 // Written by: Madalina Preda
What makes a home?
Is it the roof, the sofa, the shower or the people that make a place feel like home? Or is a home something that you find within yourself? This series takes a close look at people that have chosen to live their lives in alternative, unconventional spaces. Can their out of the ordinary stories teach us something about what truly makes a home? In this first episode, we meet Malcolm who gave up on the city to live inside a repurposed container in the forests of Friesland.  It was raining and the wind was blowing hard, but Malcolm was outside in the backyard, building a path from in front of his doorstep up to the main road using discarded wood chips. The path stopped abruptly after a few meters, marking the moment when I called to let him know I couldn’t find his address. It was a long drive from Amsterdam, and some roads in this remote part of the Netherlands don’t show up on the maps. I had come to visit Malcolm to see his new home – a repurposed container parked in the backyard of a squatted farm at the border between Friesland and Drenthe provinces. When he greeted me in front of the farm, Malcolm looked refreshed, peaceful and happier than when I had last seen him in Amsterdam. Last year, Malcolm was planning a tour around the world, by foot. He wanted to visit 73 countries in 5 to 10 years. He felt it was time to leave his home country, the Netherlands, and find a home somewhere else. While planning for this trip, he got the idea to design a special cargobike that could transform into a portable home. He crowdfunded and gathered the money he needed to buy a second hand bakfiets, but the guy who was selling it eventually changed his mind. Malcolm’s plan to travel across the world was stalling – he was still in Amsterdam and those 73 countries he wanted to visit seemed very far away. While waiting for something to change, Malcolm discovered something had changed inside him – he started thinking that he might be looking for happiness in the wrong place. “I didn’t postpone the world trip, I do travel and hitchhike once in a while. But I did realise that happiness is not something you find in a trip around the world. It’s nice to go on a trip, long or short, when you have a point of return, but not when you only do it to flee the fact that you don’t have a home.” “I liked the idea of a steady home, but to still be able to move around,” Malcolm told me when I asked him how the idea of a container home first came about. “I realised it doesn’t matter what country you live in, so I decided to stay in the Netherlands, but I didn’t want to continue paying a lot of money on rent to live in Amsterdam. I once lived in Japan in a capsule home and that experience taught me that living in small spaces makes sense. The things that you grow up with, the comfort that you are used to – you don’t need all of that. You can do with much less.” The 10 square meters container home was a 2000 euro investment. Malcolm did all the work inside, painted the ceiling and fittings, added shelves, a table, two foldable chairs, a bed, a coat rack and two lamps. He has two portable cookers that run on oil, a plastic jerrycan filled with water, and an electrical heater. At the moment, he relies on electricity from external sources, but he plans to put solar panels on the roof of the container by the end of the year. The keetje (the Dutch word for “shack”, the endearing term he likes to call his home) has a very low energy usage and the only time Malcolm turns the heating on is if the house gets too moist, which happens a few times during the winter months. The temperature inside Malcolm’s home was just right on that day, even though outside the wind was blowing big, heavy, cold raindrops on all sides of the container. I thought a storm would feel threatening between those thin metal walls, but there was something about this home that made me feel safe from the storm. “I can feel home anywhere,” Malcolm tells me when I ask him what home means for him. “As an artist, you have to dive deep inside yourself, even to those most uncomfortable or dark parts of yourself that some people run away from. That makes it easy for me to feel at home in different types of situations or different types of places”. He shows me what he has been working on – a greenhouse where they have planted mycelium spores to grow mushrooms. In the backyard, they have another garden for vegetables. Inside the farm, there is a woodshop where they are building beehives and Malcolm is also working on building his own projector using a phone and some magnifying glass. “Home is about embodying yourself. The place where I would like to live is like the one I have now – a place where I have the freedom to build my own things, where I don’t need a permit to build a greenhouse or a woodshop,” he says. “Living in the city, it’s almost impossible to garden or to build whatever you want. You pay most your salary on rent for an apartment in the city that you don’t even have the time to enjoy because you have to work a lot to be able to afford it. For me, this is the biggest contradiction in society. I want to be able to go outside and do something that is not about consuming. In the city, we are always consuming – cinemas, museums, cafes, restaurants… Here, I can only consume what I made myself.” The wind is getting stronger as we step outside the comfort of Malcolm’s keetje. He gives me a last tour of the farm and shows me the wood chip path he was working on before I arrived. Before the end of the day, he wants to finish the path and start working on the “handmade” projector he is building. Inside the woodshop, the other people in the farm are building beautiful wooden beehives, with sliding doors. They have five bee colonies that were sleeping when I got there. The bees get their nectar from the field of flowers right behind the farm, which means they don’t need to feed them extra sugar like city beekeepers do. I didn’t get a chance to taste the honey they made so far, but Malcolm swears it is delicious. There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in a day for all the things they want to build at the farm. They have plans to organise a festival in the abandoned stables this summer and Malcolm wants to hold a creative workshop for artists and activists who want to build creative disobedient objects for direct action. There is a tangible sense of freedom and community in this little corner of the forest. Home means different things for different people and for the people living here, home means freedom. Photo: Madalina Preda