Recent articles
Issue #019 Published: 10-08-2018 // Written by: Hanna Blom, Sam Simons, Vino Avanesi
Humanities Rally
On June 8th, UvA students were violently removed from campus after a peaceful protest. Students who were part of the protest share their experiences and explain their reasons for protesting. 1. Return to protest Humanities Rally (HR) is a student movement that was formed in 2014, which has since then united students and teachers in a battle against budget cuts and for a democratic and emancipatory university. In 2015 the protests culminated in an occupation of the main office of the University of Amsterdam (UvA), the Maagdenhuis, which lasted for almost six weeks. After the occupation of the Maagdenhuis, HR decided the struggle had to be continued from within the institutions as well. For three years, they participated in student politics but eventually came to the somber conclusion that the student councils aren’t democratic bodies that are taken seriously by UvA management. Within the current structure, students can do no more than softening the blow of detrimental policies, while being laughed at by directors during meetings. Now, after three years of battling the board of directors, the problems that caused the 2015 protests are still pervasive. Once again there are stark budget cuts awaiting higher education. At the UvA, itself, 40 full-time jobs are being cut from the Social Sciences and Humanities Faculties. On a national level, there is a huge budget cut of 183 million euros that the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is planning to execute. While these are acute problems to be tackled, they are inevitably tied up with the managerial structure of the university. Until we experience a shift in which teaching and research become the true priorities, issues with diversity and decolonisation cannot receive the proper attention. When the movement needed to decide whether they would continue to participate in the student council elections, it was clear to us that change would not come from within this sham democracy. The only way to make real changes was to pick up where we left off in 2015: Direct action.  2. Reclaiming the University When the university fails to provide an environment for learning and research within a democratic, decolonized, and autonomous academic community, we have to take matters into our own hands. A university whose main focus is the amount of money earned and diplomas handed out, is an institution where the interests of students and teachers take a backseat. This is why we need to actively create spaces within the university where criticism is finally heard. Every time we organize an event, we are reclaiming territory, reminding the Board of Directors for whom and what purpose these buildings were erected. On the 22nd of May, we organized a Night of Protest, the third one in Humanities Rally’s history. This time we joined forces with NU!, an action group formed at the Faculty for Social Sciences and the student union, ASVA. The night was held at the Oudemanhuispoort and featured lectures, panel discussions and music, with the intention to inform students on the issues that are threatening education. Though the night ended with everyone charged and ready to take action, when asked to leave we decided to comply. On the 8th of June, we held a March for Education, with 700 people walking from the Oudemanhuispoort to Roeterseiland, as our chants sounded through the streets. Not only were we joined by students and teachers from across the UvA faculties, delegations from other universities showed up to support the cause as well. On the day of the march, the university decided to close their doors five hours early. We imagine that they wanted  to ensure students inside would not be able to join us, and more importantly, so that we would not be able to occupy. Having anticipated the UvA’s reaction to our march, we set up camp across the water, on a grass field. The day after, alumni would return to the UvA for University Day, thus we found it appropriate to host our own University Night. Yet the university demanded our departure, because of children’s activities that were to be set up early morning on that grass field. When we tried to reach an agreement our departure, the dean made clear that he refused to negotiate with us, and at 22.00 the police started closing in as we sat on the ground, arms interlocked. They started pulling, then dragging, then throwing us at our own tents. We saw our friends being beaten with batons, pepper sprayed, and punched by police. Geert ten Dam, the head of the Board of Directors, explained the situation the next day, saying she ‘supports the cause but carries responsibility for the safety of the buildings and the territory.’ The police violence that took place on Roeterseiland campus, was clearly political in its motivation. A nearby side-walk café, for instance, was cleared out by the cops only after its patrons started protesting against the police brutality taking place. Whilst legally speaking the same area-regulations applied to them, these people were not summoned to leave by the university at precisely 22:00 hours as we were. Police did not ‘escort’ them off campus, until their presence had also become one of dissent. This discrepancy, and the subsequent rapid escalation to violence, lays bare that the alleged offense was a challenge to power, not law. The university as cradle of social change The university does not exist within a vacuum. The repression experienced by students and staff fighting austerity-measures across universities, has only increased over the last five years. This development is symptomatic for the direction in which our neoliberal society is headed. As the idea that everything in society should be run like a business has been losing political legitimacy following the Great Recession, those in power increasingly rely on direct force to push through austerity-measures across society: encroaching on civilians, breaking up strikes, and attacking (student-) protesters. Accordingly, from the Maagdenhuis occupation to recent events, the non-violent reclaiming of space within the university has been a strategic tenet for us. Its political effectiveness stems from its material language: occupying property challenges (and thus reveals) the real interests of neoliberal capital. Additionally, its principally non-violent nature exposes any use of force as politically motivated: since public safety is not threatened here, police-intervention blatantly serves those who own the occupied property. One’s very presence as such becomes a critique of a status-quo that puts profit and property before people. A status-quo, where public institutions, like everything else, are to be run as businesses. It is by revealing the nonsensicality of this assumption, we believe,  that the university movement is of value for society at large.  As the economist Ernest Mandel reminded us, ‘the university can be the cradle of a real renewal of society’. Not through students and staff single-handedly bringing about social change, but more by way of pointing in a possible direction where such change can take place. In order for the HR movement to even begin fulfilling such a function, we must seek to be inclusive of all groups and faculties within the UvA, of (support-) staff, and of university movements across the Netherlands. Simultaneously, we must understand our position: our local issues will not be resolved until addressed on a national level. However, a march on The Hague will only be possible when the university movement stands and organizes with those similarly affected by neoliberal policies. Eventually, we must reach out to the cleaners, the elementary school teachers, to the nurses and bus-drivers, and to all other groups that neoliberal politics has made precarious. Photo: Theo Warnier
Issue #019 Published: 09-08-2018 // Written by: Paris Palmano
An Honest Guide to Climate Change: Confronting the Problem
We know climate change is a problem, we’ve known it for a while now. We’ve known since the work of the Irish physicist John Tyndall in 1859 that the atmosphere grows warmer as an effect of greenhouse gases. We’ve known since the work of the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius in 1896 that the combustion of fossil fuels escalates levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We’ve known since the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (UNCHE) in Stockholm 1972 that rapid growth dramatically accelerates the rate at which greenhouse gases are emitted. At the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), we decided to work to disperse greenhouse gas concentrations in order to avoid dangerous human interference with the climate system. In 1995, world leaders came together to find solutions to the impending disaster. A Conference of Parties (COP) has been held every year for 20 years before it finally led to an agreement in Paris in 2015. Now we find ourselves in 2018, burdened with 160 years of mounting concern. We still know climate change is a problem, bigger now than at any point in human history, yet the political process continues to let us down while humanity marches towards its demise. For the best part of three decades our leaders have been intoxicated by a deadly cocktail of fruitless pondering, posturing and pandering. Time and again they have fallen into a hopeless cycle of false solutions and self-gratification. If we discovered IJtunnel was suffering critical damage and in need of urgent repair, we would not simply limit the volume of traffic attempting to cross it; we would not adopt a week-on week-off schedule to ease the strain overtime, and we would not ask people to disembark their vehicles and cross by foot. We know that a risk of this scale, a matter of impending catastrophe, requires a rigorous, forensic approach, locating the cause of the problem and to fix it before needless tragedy transpires. If we can see the root of the problem so plainly then why do we allow our governments and corporations to swerve accountability when it comes to climate change?  Our politicians feed and thrive within a narrative, a narrative in which they recognise the urgent threat of climate change. Yet, the solutions they implement lack the magnitude necessary to avert disaster. They celebrate micro-achievements such as the introduction of hybrid busses, LED street lights, and recycling reward schemes, while claiming to lead the world in climate mitigation. Our governments appear to be dealing with the problem but are in fact doing very little in real terms. Blinded by this futile narrative, people take shorter showers, recycle, protest, like and share. These measures are important, but without action that matches the problem, they may all be in vain. So why is it that governments with the necessary resources and technical knowledge at their disposal fail to meet the grievous threat of climate change? Perhaps the best way to understand this is to view our self-defeating relationship with fossil fuels as addiction. Fossil fuels power our economies, our societies and our lives in so many ways: to live without them seems impossible. Our governments display classic signs of addiction: they openly acknowledge the problem of impending climate catastrophe in order to deny the real solution. Typically, an alcoholic doesn’t deny they have a problem. Instead, they say “I’m working on it. I know I have a problem but I’m taking measures, I don’t drink spirits, I’ve stopped drinking before breakfast, maybe that will help”. For anyone who has been close to someone dealing with addiction, it’s easy to become complicit, to recognise that steps are being taken and to commend this behaviour because it’s so painful to confront the real solution. It hurts, it’s difficult and it ends in arguments. The hardest thing for an addict is to face doing what must be done.  The only way we will avert climate catastrophe is if we confront our problem honestly. It won’t be an easy task and it will require significant change, but if we hope to safeguard our future it has to be done. To find a solution, we must face reality and meet climate change with action that matches the severity of its impacts. Let’s use the last 160 years of scientific knowledge and experience as a motivation for a politics that confronts the true social and economic causes of climate change in order to find a solution for the benefit of humanity and all life on Earth. Illustration: Pedro Kastelijns
Issue #019 Published: 06-08-2018 // Written by: GWA
Grafische Werkplaats Amsterdam
De stichting GWA is opgericht in 2004, toen Wiek Molin en Martin Veltman - zelf ooit opgeleid als handzetter en inmiddels werkzaam als drukker/kunstenaar en docent - steeds meer drukpersen en lettermateriaal zagen verdwijnen. Drukkerijen stopten, kunstenaars die te oud werden om de machines te bedienen, maar ook academies die dachten dat met de komst van de computer drukpersen overbodig zouden worden. Ze zochten een locatie om alles kwijt te kunnen, en vonden deze kleine garage achter de voormalige Utermohlen verband fabriek.  Vanaf het begin hebben ze gezegd: GWA wordt geen museum. Alles moet draaien, de kennis moet worden overgedragen en het erfgoed behouden. En nu, bijna 15 jaar later, blijkt dat een visionaire gedachte. GWA biedt sindsdien aan de lopende band workshops en cursussen op het gebied van letterzetten, drukken, boekbinden, lino, houtsnede en droge naald. Aan iedereen die het weten wil. Schoolkinderen, studenten van kunstacademies, grafisch ontwerpers, amateurs en professionals. Drukkers met nostalgie naar het oude, maar vooral jongeren die behoefte hebben aan het ambacht als tegenhanger voor digitale eenheidsworst. Step away from the computer! De bezetting van de stichting bestaat uit beheerders van de werkplaats, docenten en vrijwilligers. Twee jaar geleden, in 2016, is de ‘oervader’ van GWA, Wiek, overleden. Veel te vroeg en nog lang niet klaar. Ineens werd ons credo, dat de kennis uitsterft als we er niets tegen doen, wrede werkelijkheid. Maar GWA draait door, dankzij de solide basis die gelegd is, en vooral dankzij de inzet van zoveel liefhebbers. Onlangs veranderden we onze naam van Grafisch Werkcentrum Amsterdam in [typo] Grafische Werkplaats Amsterdam. Om de werkplaatsfunctie te benadrukken, en omdat we meer nadruk wilden leggen op onze zetterij met houten en loden letters. Het bijzondere aan de grafische druktechnieken is, als je het mij vraagt, het contact dat je hebt met het materiaal. Het werken met deze technieken noopt tot stap voor stap werken, en de beperking ervan dwingt tot het maken van creatieve beslissingen. Een fout draai je niet met een eenvoudig Appeltje-Z terug, en vaak blijkt diezelfde fout juist de opmaat voor een beter idee. Alles is na te maken, tegenwoordig, maar het proces zelf is niet en nooit vervangbaar.  Naast cursussen staan ook bijzondere projecten op het programma: onder de noemer Grafische Expedities gaan we de samenwerking aan met andere disciplines. Zo hadden we onder meer Poëzie & Inkt, met dichters tussen de persen, Theater & Inkt, waarbij theatermakers hun eigen omslag voor een nieuwe tekst ontwierpen en drukten, Film & Inkt (filmposter ism Kriterion), Vinyl & Inkt met de Amsterdamse band Bolster die zijn eigen LPhoes drukte. En vorig jaar bracht 3D&Inkt ons prachtige nieuwe houten letters, zoals de Typewood en een totaal nieuwe Arabische houten letter, de Kanat.  Onze slogan is Step Away From the Computer. Het is ook de naam van de bedrijfsworkshops die we organiseren. Een dag weg van de computer, voor groepen tot 25 man. Er wordt gebruik van gemaakt door reclamebureaus, communicatieprofessionals, maar ook door een groep tandartsen of een familie waarvan opa vroeger een drukkerij had. Voor GWA is het de ideale manier om binnen onze missie (het vertellen van het verhaal van de boekdrukkunst) een beetje geld te verdienen. Alles gaat weer terug in de werkplaats, GWA is een non-profit instelling met voorlopig nog een beetje subsidie van de stad. De Grafische Werkplaats Amsterdam heeft, hoewel de oprichters allemaal uit de Communistische hoek komen, geen politieke missie, maar houdt zijn ogen niet gesloten voor maatschappelijke veranderingen. Met de poster Wees Lief voor de Stad geven we dan ook vooral een boodschap af aan de mensen die het verschil kunnen maken. Project-ontwikkelaars, huizenbezitters, mensen met invloed: denk twee keer na waar je je geld aan uitgeeft. Zorg dat de stad leefbaar blijft, en verloochen je belangrijkste kracht niet. Die van de rafelrand, de creatievelingen die steeds weer het risico nemen (denk aan de kunststad van NDSM) en daarmee de basis leggen voor de commerciele creatieve industrie (zie wat er nu gebeurt op NDSM). Wij maken geen werk in opdracht, in die zin dat we geen opdrachten op afstand aannemen. We vragen altijd van de opdrachtgever om in de werkplaats te komen, om te zien hoe het proces in zijn werk gaat. Waar je kan helpen, help je mee: ook al drukken wij het uiteindelijke produkt, zo hebben we toch weer aan de missie voldaan. We bemoeien ons niet met de inhoud, maar zien wel dat deze manier van werken vooral mensen aantrekt met aandacht voor ambacht, voor schoonheid en voor duurzaamheid. De veranderingen in de stad beginnen we ook aan den lijve te ondervinden. Dit jaar opende op ‘ons’ terreintje, een achteraf plekje aan het eind van de Molukkenstraat dat ooit het eind van de wereld leek, een grote Albert Heijn. De bestaande bedrijfjes, waaronder de legendarische muziekstudio waar bandjes repeteren, bleven daarbij ongemoeid. Tot nu toe levert het voor ons vooral veel meer zichtbaarheid op, maar het is natuurlijk de vraag in hoeverre in de toekomst nog ruimte blijft voor non-profit organisaties in de stad. We sell the city, oh yes. Maar GWA drukt pamfletten waar nodig, en ook geld als het op is. En het contact met Appie is hartstikke goed. Wij drukken met passie. Ook je bonuspassie. Onze toekomstdroom is om een grafisch werkend museum te realiseren. Ambacht, educatie, erfgoed: het model van het Textielmuseum in Tilburg, waar expositieruimte, werkplaats en museale functie samenkomen is voor ons een voorbeeld. Wie weet kunnen we samenwerken met andere ambachtelijke pioniers. We hebben de kennis, de materialen en de tijdgeest mee. Nu nog een pand en een investeerder met het hart op de juiste plaats.  More info >>>
Issue #019 Published: 02-08-2018 // Written by: Jacqueline Schoemaker
What Design Can Do: Handbook of Tyranny (book review)
Handbook of Tyranny, made by architect Leo Deutinger, is an atlas of coercive design. A vast range of instruments of control, from the walls built globally between nation states and other territories till park benches in the city and reed grass to protect private (and public) property, is depicted in two-colour maps and graphic illustrations, showing in simple black and red the extent to which we are all somehow subjected to these devices, while we are also the agents of them. The book consists of two sections. The first, ‘The tragedy of Territory’, focuses on instruments of control related to nations, cities and other territories. In the introduction Deutinger explains the relation between human beings, the space we inhabit and the technology we develop to control that space. He says, “We are not just people, but citizens …. As citizens, we surrender, we disarm and hand over the right to use our weapons (our technology) to the state, so that the state can fight for us and protect us.” (p. 9). That is how we’ve organised living together. We are born into a set of pre-existing rules that belong to a particular territory. We are immediately assigned to one of the 203 existing nation states. And while in earlier times the power of a certain territory only went so far as, for example, the city walls and actual unclaimed ‘land’ between cities existed, modern technologies of surveillance and warfare allow for each state to exert power throughout its entire territory (p. 10), leaving no terrain uncovered. Using a minimum of lines, dots and words, Deutinger goes on to illustrate how the principle of territorial law and power works all over the world. In the chapter ‘Human Range’, he depicts in simple curved dotted lines the evolution of the distance reached by several weapons, from the javelin in the premodern age (100 metres) till the sniper rifle today (3540 metres). The consequences of this evolution can be seen on the map of Africa, which is shown on the next pages. On the left, the map of the continent shows a myriad of meandering borderlines, much like a street plan of a medieval inner city. These were the boundaries of the historical ethnicities before the colonization of the continent. On the right side, we see the map with the national boundaries as we know them today. The distance between the borderlines is visibly wider and the lines are distinctly more orderly. The design looks like a simplified version of the map on the left, with even a few completely straight lines in the north, the result of colonising countries dividing the land between themselves without any regard for existing cultures and organic borders. Next, 199 miniature maps of the world show to how many countries (black patches on the world map) citizens of a particular nation state have visa-free access. It starts with Germany (where the people have visa-free access to 159 countries), and ends with Afghanistan (where the people have access to 22 other countries). If you flip the pages quickly, you can see the black patches of land disappear in a moving image, as the countries your eyes move over are more and more isolated in the world, like islands, and only a few black dots (pied-a-terres) remain at the end. Other graphics follow: walls, fences and other barriers, depicted in detail with reference to the materials used and where in the world they are located; organisations designated as terrorist groups since 1900 and the evolution of the colours of their flags; various spatial variants of refugee camps and where in the world they occur (by far the largest amount is situated in Central and East Africa); various means of demolishing buildings; various means of controlling crowds; sizes of prison cells as defined by law per country, depicted in a grey-tone image of square frames, one inside another, where the outer frame is light grey (and refers to the 12 square metres that Switzerland defines as a minimum surface for a prison cell) and the inner frame is anthracite (the 2 square metres that Guinea allows), leaving a black square in the middle, which through the effect of the grading becomes the innermost centre of your attention.  A chapter named ‘The Defensive City’ focusses on how the ordinary citizen is approached as an enemy by the authorities. ’Unwanted behaviour’ is the accusatory basis for the implementation of subtle design elements that try to influence the use of public space without being noticed,” Deutinger writes in the introduction to the chapter (p. 85). The ‘Camden bench’ in London is a street bench designed in such a way that all possible ‘abuse’ of the bench (like lying down on it, skateboarding over it or littering on it) is resisted. Another strategy to resist actual life in the city is the “strategy of absence” (no bench at all), but, Deutinger comically remarks, that strategy is difficult to illustrate (p. 86). What he does illustrate, are the very ordinary means, small measures against ‘deviant behaviour’ that we hardly notice, like anti-sticker garbage cans, half benches at tram and bus stops, CCTV camera’s disguised as street lamps and anti-climb paint on walls. Through these means, citizens are discouraged to do anything other than walk, shop, and, maybe, sit. Moreover, in the “ram-proof city” (p. 92), we are also ‘protected’ against (terrorist) attacks carried out with the use of vehicles by ditches, ornamental rocks, slopes, hidden bollards etc. In total Deutinger lists, explains and illustrates 26 defence mechanisms against ‘unwanted behaviour’ and 17 ways to prevent attacks with vehicles in the city.  The second section of the book deals with the ‘vast conspiracy’ behind the use of the instruments of control, the fact that many organisations, companies and individuals, but also animate and inanimate objects agree with / collaborate on / happen to be part of systems of power and control. Brendan McGetrick, who writes the essay that introduces this section, writes: “It is … the link between the human and the nonhuman, that turns a dog into a guard dog and bamboo into a fence” (p. 112). If you always wanted to know how the existing varieties of the death penalty are carried out throughout the world, or which exact steps are taken in the killing and processing of animals, this is the place to do your research. 1966 miniature chickens are depicted, in red, on the page which shows how many chickens, ducks, pigs, rabbits, turkeys, geese, sheep, goats, cattle and bison are killed per second worldwide. The most treacherous chapter, however, is without doubt the last one, named ‘Green Fortress’, which focuses on how nature is manipulated to control human behaviour, while at the same time it is propagated as pristine, untouched, innocent. A double page shows 22 defence mechanisms used to keep possible intruders at bay from a private house. The following pages show details of the illustrations and explain how columnar trees, hedges, prickly vines, ponds, gravel walkways and raised garden beds all conspire to protect property in the guise of lovely landscaping.  Handbook of Tyranny simply shows what design can do in its all-encompassing territory of its own. The strength of the book lies in the fact that Deutinger combines excellent and thorough research with letting the graphics speak for themselves. Instead on elaborating on the horrors of the speed with which animals are continually slaughtered worldwide, he presents the facts on a single page without further ado, so that it is left to the reader / viewer to decode the horrors. Through graphic representation, a densification of reality takes place until the essence of things is reached without the actual reality present. That is why what is graphically depicted is both not the real thing and the very real thing. Deutinger uses this power of graphic visualisation to reveal the existing architectures of power in the world. He lets design beat itself at its own game. Without many words and with only a few lines and colours, he reminds us of what we already know but have never pictured so aptly. Handbook of Tyranny, Leo Deutinger, Lars Müller Publishers, Zürich, 2018. The images are reproduced with kind permission of the publisher.
Issue #019 Published: 27-07-2018 // Written by: Jorge DS
Bajesdorp: An ever-changing place
Next to the old Bijlmerbajes, the former prison in the east of the city, in Watergraafsmeer, lies one of the last squats of the city. The village known as Bajesdorp has been squatted since 2003 and has become an iconic place for its festival, community center, and other initiatives. The area was recently bought by a real-estate developer, and Bajesdorp is now under threat. Still, people of the community haven’t given up and are continuing with Bajesdorp’s projects and the free space for themselves and the city. They have even developed a new initiative: Bajesdorp 2020. Bajesdorp now The group living in Bajesdorp is a complex of eighteen multi-ideological beautiful people from many different backgrounds. You find Latin translators, boat skippers, industrial climbers, musicians, entrepreneurs and social workers, all of them sharing the idea of living in a community and creating communal free spaces for the city. In order to do this, the group has developed several spaces and projects inside and outside the village. Some of these initiatives may be familiar to many of us, but others are less known and yet really cool. One of the most well-known spaces is Buurtcentrum de Muiterij, where weekly activities take place. For instance, one can attend the language café on Mondays to learn Dutch in a socially integrative way with other people, or you can drop by on Tuesdays and enjoy a voku dinner while listening to a musical performance. People can also participate in the recently introduced sketch nights to draw together with others devoted to graphics and visual arts. The Muiterij also has a fully equipped print screening studio, where you can bring your frames and print them.  One of the most important aspects of the Muiterij is that it connects the people in Bajesdorp and allows them to get involved in the projects of the village. It is also the place where people who don’t live there can visit and join in these activities and projects. According to Annastina and Inès, two of the people living in Bajesdorp, the center is essential because it is a communal, neutral place where people of the village can invite others without disturbing anybody. Moreover, it is the place where the work groups and the General Assembly hold their meetings. According to them, this place is crucial for the well-functioning of the community. In addition to the Muiterij, Bajesdorp has a communal garden project with flowers, herbs, tomatoes, basil, peppers, green beans, pears, raspberries, strawberries and potatoes, which are all grown by the inhabitants. One of them created a compost initiative for the neighbourhood and received an award from the municipality for it. This garden also serves to integrate the village with people living in the surroundings. One can often find neighbours chilling and enjoying a green space in the middle of the semi-industrial area. Also people from the offices next to the Bajesdorp go there to eat lunch, and others passing by just sit there sometimes to have a minute of relaxation.  The ‘artivist residency’ is another creative initiative by Bajesdorp. It allows the artist to stay there and focus on his or her artistic work. Someone in the village proposes inviting an artist or the artivist himself or herself sends an email. Someone from Bajesdorp then takes care of the arrangements and the practical details.  Apart from the community centre with its initiatives and facilities, and the communal garden with its nature space, Bajesdorp also includes less-known spaces. Among these are a movable sauna, a hot-tub and a romantic tree-house for guests. All of these play an essential role in establishing bonds between the community and its visitors.  In the past, the Bajesdorp community has organized different recreational and political events. One of them is the ‘Rond de Bajes’, a bicycle race around the old jail that takes place every year. In previous races, some participants brought their simple old bikes while others showed up all equipped with their professional racing bicycles. Another sports event organized by Bajesdorp was the WBW Streetball Cup, a ping-pong and basketball tournament.  Bajesdorp also organized and hosted political events like the recent Food Autonomy Festival and some events supporting refugees. In part, the aim of organizing recreational and political activities is to create a space for supporting freedom, a sense of community and ideals of solidarity. Apart from the activities organized by the villagers, people not living there can also use the communal spaces of Bajesdorp for projects that suit the spirit of the community. A group of neighbour students, for example, recently started a new initiative in which they meet once a month with asylum seekers to help them to integrate into the sometimes complicated Dutch society. Ideologically speaking Bajesdorp consists of different shapes and flavours. You can see this during Bajesdorp Festival: while one house plays reggae, another plays hard punk. “We are a mix of punk and bourgeois”, the inhabitants joking describe themselves. However, and more seriously, they agree that their different ideologies evolve around one organizing principle: living in a community. According to the inhabitants, one shared political ideal by the people living in Bajesdorp is that the city needs affordable places to live. In this regard, Bajesdorp’s future project aims to perpetuate this ideal.  Bajesdorp, like other free and politically active spaces in Amsterdam, has a lot to offer, not only to the alternative community or the people living in those spaces but to its neighbourhoods. These places are crucial to the city because they are epicenters of creation, discussion, integration, freedom and community. However, this does not seem to satisfy many people who follow a different way of thinking, like the logic of the neoliberal market.  Despite the gentrifying hydra being at the gate of many free spaces in Amsterdam, the struggle to keep these spaces alive is by no means lost. Bajesdorp, like many other initiatives, is an example of resistance, an attempt to keep these spaces alive and kicking. In defiance of the possibility of being evicted and ultimately losing the space, the people in the village are now harvesting the fruits of their resistance with Bajesdorp 2020. Bajesdorp 2020 The community of Bajesdorp is lively and ever-changing. People come and go; new input, new ideas and skills are added to the community; people add their energy and leave the collective-living space. There are inhabitants who want to move on from Bajesdorp, inhabitants who want to keep the village the way it is as long as possible, and inhabitants who want to continue with it as a legalized project: Bajesdorp 2020.  In the summer of 2016, Bijlmerbajes prison was shut down. The whole area, including the six towers and Bajesdorp, was put on the market to be sold at the highest bid and the best development plan. Ten private developers submitted their proposals. Although people of Bajesdorp fought to get the chance to buy and develop their own place, the whole area was sold to real-estate developer AM in the end. Under the name Bajeskwartier, AM works together with AT Capital, Cairn and the designers OMA, FABRICations and LOLA Landscape to transform the site into a new residential area. As soon as AM bought the place, it announced the demolition of the houses in Bajesdorp, including the Muiterij. People from Bajesdorp protested against this; however, the National Government and the Municipality of Amsterdam approved the transformation plans. The demolition, as it was announced by the real-state developer, will take place in two stages: one in September of this year and the second in February 2019. Taking this scenario as a starting point, the Bajesdorp people worked on a plan to buy the adjacent piece of land and to develop Bajesdorp 2020, a new alternative working-living village. On this piece of land, they aim to host 25-40 people by 2020. At this moment negotiations with AM about this are ongoing. A decision about the price must be reached by this summer. With Bajesdorp 2020, the founders want to create a place based on the principles of the existing Bajesdorp: a solidarity-based, social, creative and sustainable living space. The project was inspired by the German Mietshäusersyndikat, which collaborates with housing communities to create living-working housing spaces. This organization offers a theoretical structure for taking houses out of the capital market. The core of this model is to acquire homes collectively in order to create affordable, self-sustained spaces to live in. To implement the German Mietshäusersyndikat model in the Netherlands, people from Bajesdorp and some other residential groups in Amsterdam founded the Dutch VrijCoop, the first umbrella organization for solidarity housing cooperatives in the Netherlands. The mission of VrijCoop is to generate affordable social housing within. It works as follows. A group of people living together or who want to live together form an association or a cooperative (like Bajesdorp) and join VrijCoop. Then the group buys or builds a building, of which not the individuals but the organization becomes the owner. Juridically, no contract can prohibit the inhabitants from selling the building, but VrijCoop always has the right to veto upon sale, which implies that the site and the buildings can never be sold. By removing estates and houses from the capital market in this way, this initiative directly counters speculation, one of the leading causes of non-affordable housing. Besides generating affordable, community-based spaces to live, the second objective of Bajesdorp 2020 is sustainability. The project aims at being as sustainable and energy-neutral as possible. Bajesdorp 2020 also seeks to function as a laboratory to test innovative ideas relating to sustainability, which can be implemented in the rest of the neighbourhood if they prove successful.  Bajesdorp Festival 2018 Every summer Bajesdorpers host their festival. This year will be a special edition because it will be the stepping stone and transition between the current Bajesdorp and Bajesdorp 2020. Apart from offering space to have a good time, the festival will provide information about the crowdfunding campaign which is part of the complex financing plan of the new Bajesdorp initiative. Also, people can find information on the crowdfunding campaign on the Bajesdorp website. Don’t miss it!   For more information: Bajesdorp festival info Illustration: Savvas Kopidis