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BUILDING A FUTURE TOGETHER

In-between spaces

>> Fronnie Biesma, one of the main organisers of

Ondertussen and founder of De Vrolijkheid, a foundation that promotes happiness and invests in children and teenagers in asylum seekers centres, asserts: ‘I knew that a permanent azc was going to be built in De Houthavens. At that time I was talking to a group of people including architects, urban planners, scientists, civil servants and entrepreneurs about new approaches to deal with azc’s. That is where the idea of in-between spaces came from.’ With regards tot the function of these in-between spaces, Biesma elaborates: ‘Thinking about the new azc gave rise to the questions: How can the public space be built in such a way to increase the likelihood of frequent meetups between locals and residents of the azc?’ Without any formal commission, Ondertussen - which is comprised of human right workers, artists, thinkers, and social and community workers - decided to take matters into their own hands. The movement (as they call themselves) approached different parties involved with the realisation of the azc - including the urban planners, aldermen, and the people living in the neighbourhood. Engaging in cross-discipline collaborations has not only been fruitful in terms of sharing knowledge and experience, but also in getting financial support from divergent funds to support their plan. The willingness of the collective to experiment, combined with their ability to form interdisciplinary partnerships for collaboration is what makes their work promising. Moreover, Ondertussen operates from a firm belief in the potential of art. Over the past year, a diverse group of artists have collected stories in Spaarndammerbuurt about safety and movement, drawing a line to the azc Houthavens. Various art projects, including a new public-space sculpture (of a lighthouse) and a series of performative interventions such as ‘the weird mailman’, have served as interactive tools to engage with and introduce the local population to the idea of future cohabitation with asylum seekers. Through conversations with locals in the neighbourhood, the artists have worked with the area’s identity, making visible that which remains untold, while drawing a connection to the azc Houthavens.

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YOU WILL NOT BE A REFUGEE FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE Recently, Ondertussen was able to open a story shop in the neighbourhood where the stories from the neighbourhood are exhibited. Organising free workshops in the shop gives space for people from the neighbourhood to talk about their fears and desires and encourages them to get involved in thinking about shared interests and how to share space. According to Biesma, an essential characteristic of an in-between space is that it provides facilities that are useful to both new and old inhabitants of Spaarndammerbuurt, such as a professional baking oven or a 3D printer. The goal of these inbetween spaces, both inside the azc and in the neighbourhood, is that to allow for social interaction between the old and new inhabitants. They should be places where artists can meet artists, and bakers can meet bakers, for example. By transcending the boundaries of cultural identity and the category of ‘the refugee’, these spaces are meant to open up the possibility for people to work and learn together, and to create win-win situations while getting better at living together with diversity. Biesma finally notes: ‘Personally I refrain from using the label ‘refugee’ as a sort of category and I have started a countermovement against it.’ She goes on to explain that: ‘Being a refugee is simply a phase in someone’s life. I find it quite absurd that policy is being made on refugees. One will not stay a refugee for the rest of their life.’ >>

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...

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