VIDEO: The Caring Economy of Amsterdam
Amsterdam is home to numerous passionate, active citizens who unite in community initiatives and neighborhood cooperatives. They put into practice an organizational model and narrative that we call the commons. Together, these commons practices form the domain of our economy and society in which citizens collectively take care of each other's basic needs. For this reason, this domain is also known as the caring economy.
This is a contribution from Winne van Woerden, on behalf of our partners Stichting Commons Network
In recent months, as part of the Cities for Change Forum, we visited a number of commons initiatives in Amsterdam. We wanted to show what the field of the caring economy in Amsterdam looks like, and why we think it is the foundation of the city economy of the future, in which the well-being of people and planet is central.
We spoke to citizens involved in the neighborhood cooperative de Eester in the Eastern Docklands, the housing cooperative De Nieuwe Meent in Watergraafsmeer and the collective space Grubbehoeve in the Bijlmer.
At the neighborhood cooperative the Eester, local residents are active in a cooperative context in the fields of care, mobility, housing and sustainability. Important here is that they approach these themes from their mutual coherence. The local scale of community initiatives enables them to adopt an integrated and cross-domain approach - an approach in which (local) government and private parties often fall short. Moreover, as initiator and community resident Meta de Vries explains to us:
"Caring is in everything we do here, whether it's about sustainability, helping neighbors or children's activities. It's all about meeting and connecting. For me, caring is also about taking responsibility, for the environment where you live and the people you live with."
At housing cooperative De Nieuwe Meent (DNM), a group of Amsterdammers join forces to set up a housing community that is as inclusive and sustainable as possible. DNM shifts the perspective from a home as an investment to a home as a safe space in which caring is a given. Adding value to the neighborhood is also an important spearhead. Again, the cohesive approach is central. As Harsono Sokromo, affiliated with the housing cooperative and future resident of the housing community tells us:
"I really hope that we will work with other community organizations here in the neighborhood. I think we can contribute a lot here"
In the collective space De Grubbehoeve, neighborhood residents encourage entrepreneurship in a collective way through the project 'Make your own work'. Participation is free, instead of money they ask for "reciprocity of commitment to each other and to give the initiative continuity". Initiator and local resident Elisabeth Werther explains to us that the goal is to start a cooperative for starting entrepreneurs in the Bijlmer, in which residents can learn from each other and develop in entrepreneurship without immediately having responsibility for their own business. In Elisabeth's words:
"People fall by the wayside, and precisely because they fall by the wayside they are not worthless. Everyone has talents. (...) The difficult thing is that this society makes very high demands, you can't just start your own business."
Finally, we spoke with city maker and social entrepreneur Zunga Linger about the importance of cooperatives for the future of Amsterdam. Zunga: "Through cooperatives you give ownership to the people. The profit and the control are then with most people instead of a small group".
Watch the entire video here! With many thanks to all participants and cinematographer Vincent Sparreboom for the fine cooperation and thanks to the Fearless City Amsterdam-programme for making this possible!