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EMPOWERING THOSE WHO SEEK TO MAKE AND BE THE CHANGE >> How can we reduce digital illiteracy? What is the best

That means being right there where change is especially needed: disadvantaged Amsterdam areas like Noord, Nieuw-West, and Zuidoost struggle with a high level of unemployment, relatively poor health, illiteracy and other issues. Local makerspaces are ideal to initiate and facilitate this process, especially as it is not taken for granted residents of neighbourhoods like Noord, NieuwWest and Zuidoost visit sites like Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam’s city centre. ‘We often addresses these issues urging for solutions’, says Fransen. ‘Though, mainly in our own building, which is accessible to everyone, but where we hardly meet the average resident from - let’s say - Noord. And it is exactly those people who have the necessary knowledge about and experience with affairs like increasing debts, safety and security problems and poor public spaces.’

© Waag Society, FabSchool

way to design a new playground for kids? How can we all collaborate to keep our public spaces clean and enjoyable? How to improve our air quality? Just some of the many minor and major issues that are at stake throughout our city. Egbert Fransen, director of Pakhuis de Zwijger, has been connecting stakeholders and organising events on these urgent and complex urban challenges of today for ten years. ‘We have been rather successful attracting

The city-making process

highly educated people of Amsterdam’s city centre. But the issues we address concern a much wider audience. To be able to reach and involve them, we need to be entrenched deeply in the city. Because everybody has the potential to be a City Maker.’ He strongly believes in the city-making process: shifting ownership from top-down to bottom-up initiatives in the public domain. ‘Change comes from within the neighbourhoods’, he says. ‘When we actively bring together the parties concerned right there where issues are at stake, transformation and hopefully improvements will follow.’


This motivated to start Amsterdam’s first Maakplaats 021 at Waterlandplein. ‘There are great things happening in Noord,’ says Fransen, ‘but there are also major challenges.’ According to him, it is extremely important to be close to everyone who seeks to accelerates one’s personal development with these new skills. ‘We shouldn’t operate just in the city centre as this limits many (young) people to participate. These makerspaces will be nearby your home and accessible to stimulate everyone to join. When we all come together and collaborate, share and learn from each other, better and more sustainable solutions are more likely.’ >>

Profile for Pakhuis de Zwijger

New Amsterdam #10  

New Democracy | 10 years Pakhuis de Zwijger | Maakplaats 021 | FabCity Movement | Global Parliament of Mayors | Equal Access | Humans of Ams...

New Amsterdam #10  

New Democracy | 10 years Pakhuis de Zwijger | Maakplaats 021 | FabCity Movement | Global Parliament of Mayors | Equal Access | Humans of Ams...