Recent articles
Issue #011 Published: 21-03-2017 // Written by: Hans Plomp
The origin of the festival
Long ago there were not so many people. They all lived in families on their own land and they never had any contact with other families, except for stealing each others daughters. One day a young hunter was walking in the wilderness, when he met an old woman. She had a large nose and he looked at her with great fear.  ‘I am the Old Eagle Mother,’ she said. ‘Why do you look so scared?’  ‘Because all strangers are enemies of my people,’ he answered. ‘Whenever we meet other people, we fight them.’  Then the Old Eagle Mother said: ‘People are lonely and scared of each other, because they don’t have the gift of the festival. They cannot make songs, they have no music and they cannot dance together. That’s why they mistrust each other and fight.’  She put her ear to the Earth and told him to do the same. ‘Listen,’ she whispered.  From deep inside the Earth he could hear a heavy beat, like a giant heartbeat.  ‘That is the great drum,’ said the Old Eagle Mother. Then they listened to the sound of the wind in the trees. ‘That is the great flute,’ she said. She taught him to make a drum and a flute, she taught him the words of songs and she taught him to dance and to play the instruments. ‘Now you must go home and collect the best foods and drinks. And you must think of a present for all the people in the land. Then you must invite everybody you can reach to your house and offer them your food and drinks. When they have dined to their satisfaction, make music for them and sing the songs and dance. They will also learn how to dance and they will want to make songs and music too. So the next day, as they go home, you give them their presents. Soon the families will start inviting each other for festivals. The young daughters will dance with the young men, the people will get to know each other and the fighting will stop. Peace and joy and friendship will be in the land, as long as you keep the festivals.’  The young hunter went home. His family was delighted by his new gifts, and he taught them to dance, sing and make music as well. Then they went to all the other families, dancing and singing. The other families were so surprised to see them dance and to hear the music, that they forgot to attack them and decided to come to the festival. Even the children and the old people wanted to come. Everything went as the Old Eagle Mother had predicted, and from that day on the people greeted each other on the roads. Noordamerikaanse overlevering, overgebracht door Hans Plomp Illustration: T. Rosseti
Issue #011 Published: 15-03-2017 // Written by: Klaar vd Lippe
Interview: Patrice
Patrice (66), geboren in Monaco, vrije wetenschapper, arme ‘wereldburger’, ‘kokend lid’ van V.N.I.C.A., van INURA en van het hackercollectief Hippies from Hell Waarom Amsterdam? Mijn vroege jeugd woonde ik in een villa aan de Cote d’ Azur met mijn beeldschone moeder en 11 jaar oudere zus. Nadat ik drie maal van internaat school was gestuurd kwam ik op 14 jarige aan in Amsterdam om bij mijn Nederlandse vader te gaan wonen. Het was 1964. Nederland voelde arm, bijna oostblok. Zelden wijn te krijgen. Verzuild. Het was het begin van een turbulente tijd. Provo, hippies, aanvallen op de bestaande macht. Hoewel het huishouden van mijn vader bijna spartaans was van inrichting waren zijn denkbeelden dat gelukkig niet. Hij omhelsde de verandering in denken.  Het verblijf bij mijn vader was kort. Zijn nieuwe vrouw voelde niets voor de stad en zij verhuisden. Op zeventienjarige leeftijd leefde ik helemaal zelfstandig op een kamer bij mijn tante. Na van het Spinoza Lyceum te zijn heengezonden rondde ik mijn school af op het Barleus Gymnasium. Zat in de Scholieren Belangen Organisatie, Marja Oosterban was voorzitter en de latere mediamagnaat Derk Sauer zat er ook bij. De SBO werd gepiepeld door de Studentenbond ASVA die vond dat scholieren maar eerst hun eindexamen moesten halen. Achteraf is dat kenmerkend. Iemand noemde mij de ‘dissidentie in de dissidentie’, altijd vraagtekens zetten. Ook bij de zogenaamd ‘juiste’ standpunten. Links gedroeg zich bijvoorbeeld als rechts, met net zo weinig vrijheid voor afwijkende ideeën. Terwijl diversiteit de essentie is van vrijheid. Niet alleen diversiteit van afkomst, geografisch of sociaal. Juist in cultuur en levensopvatting. Op die manier heb ik Amsterdam zien veranderen van een arme verzuilde stad, via de internationale hippie hoofdstad naar een divers en multicultureel oord in de jaren 70 en 80 tot de huidige internationale monocultuur. Vergis je niet hoeveel witter toonaangevend Amsterdam geworden is. Niet alleen in de ‘hippe’ wijken, ook in de culturele en wetenschappelijke kringen.  Als wetenschapper ben ik sociaal geograaf en ontwikkelings econoom. Hoe mensen samenleven fascineert me. Mijn wetenschappelijke carrière is bijzonder. Toen ik afstudeerde in de jaren tachtig was er grote werkloosheid. Er was een grote angst om te hoog opgeleiden de baan van lager opgeleiden te geven. Geen ingenieur op de bok! De vakbonden waren er op tegen. Maar de politiek ook: want dan kreeg je mondige lastpakken in bedrijven. Dus heel veel hoogopgeleiden konden direct de bijstand in. Wetenschap was voor mij te belangrijk. Daarom heb ik een nul uren plek geaccepteerd aan de UvA. Zo heb ik jarenlang wetenschap bedreven zonder te hoeven vergaderen en formulieren in te vullen. Gelukkig kon ik me dat veroorloven. Het gaat mij om kennis, de bureaucratie van het onderwijs is aan mij niet besteed. Ik ben daardoor wel de eerste in een aantal generaties die geen hoogleraar is geworden.  Wat is je rol in de stad? Mijn vriend Geert Lovink zegt: de harde periferie. Je hebt invloed, maar staat niet centraal op een podium. Je zet je in voor dingen vanuit een houding en later blijken die dingen gevolgen te hebben. Zoals bijvoorbeeld mijn betrokkenheid bij de opkomst van het publieke Internet. Dat gebeurde allemaal niet met een plan. Het gebeurt, je gaat er mee aan de slag. Ik ben betrokken geweest bij het opzetten van De Digitale Stad (DDS) en later de Waag, Maatschappij voor Oude en Nieuwe Media (nu: Waag Society), een van de belangrijkste platformen voor digitale vernieuwing in Nederland en daarbuiten. Als mee en tegen denker. Want ik ben ook deel van het hackers collectief ‘Hippies from Hell’. In 1989 hebben we het eerste internationale hackers festival in Europa mede georganiseerd in Paradiso: de Galactic Hacker Party. Niet omdat wij alle ontwikkelingen van nu voorzagen. Maar vanuit een houding. Ik geloof in de IETF, de Internet Engineering Task Force: ‘rough consensus and running code’, grofweg vertaald: Samen proberen de zaak draaiend houden.  De nadruk dus op wat ons bindt en niet op wat ons scheidt, dat is voor mij een noodzakelijke conditie om initiatieven samen te kunnen vormgeven. Niet overorganiseren en diversiteit naast elkaar laten bestaan. Dus ook bij ontwikkelingen die vrijheid-scheppend zijn.  Wat is je plek in de stad? Mijn plek in de stad is een sociale huurwoning. (anekdote unica?) In de stad, en voor de stad, ben ik een groot voorstander van huren. Wanneer beheerd door goede woningbedrijven zijn sociale huurwoningen een prachtige manier om de stad toegankelijk en divers te houden. Het houdt speculatie buiten de deur en is tegen de financialisering van de maatschappij. Financialisering houdt in dat je alles vertaald naar geldwaarde. Alles wordt daarmee duurder: ook dingen die je voor weinig of gratis zou doen krijgen de hoogst mogelijke prijs. Als kwasi-econoom durf ik wel te beweren dat de laatste onroerend goed crisis met een woningbestand gebaseerd op sociale huren niet was gebeurd.  Ik ben ook een sterk voorstander van het basisinkomen. Wanneer het niet de kaalslag betekent van andere sociale voorzieningen zoals gezondheidszorg en onderwijs onder andere. Het is een verstandig systeem. Het neemt precariteit, de angst voor de volgende dag, weg. Je moet de zwakkeren beschermen.  Mijn achtergrond zou je ‘bourgeois boheme’ kunnen noemen. Een burgerlijk milieu met vrijzinnige trekken. Zelf vind ik de positie van de lage adel heel interessant. Het geeft de aristocraat rechten maar ook plichten. Je hebt verantwoordelijkheden. Tegelijkertijd sta je autonoom en soeverein ten opzichte van het maatschappelijk gebeuren. Je moet niet bang zijn om verschillen te benoemen. Je kunt daar het begrip klassen voor gebruiken. De lagere klasse moet je meer rechten geven, als hogere klasse heb je meer plichten. In zekere zin waren ook de hippies een soort lage adel. Afkomstig uit de burgerlijke klasse, maar autonoom. Ze zagen af van zelfverrijking voor een maatschappelijk en cultureel idee. Oud hippie vrijplaats Ruigoord kun je ook zien als een verzameling lage adel. Een Poolse landdag.  Die levenshouding was ook levensvatbaar. Nu is het anders. Door de globalisering en financialisering is het leven in de stad alleen mogelijk door je te conformeren aan de economische regels. De huidige trend van privatiseren van gemeenschappelijke voorzieningen en eigendommen maakt de rijken rijker. De 99% verarmt. Een aristocratische houding waarin je ongebonden je voorrechten en plichten leeft is steeds lastiger. Het spreken over klassen of verschillen is verdacht geworden terwijl de tegenstellingen alleen maar groter zijn geworden. De helft van de mensen kent de andere helft niet meer, en wil dat ook niet.   Je toekomst in Amsterdam? Het is gek. Ik loop al een tijdje door Amsterdam als een toerist. Onder de indruk van de schoonheid. De historie. Nostalgisch bijna. Ik vertrek namelijk begin februari naar een dorpje boven Florence. Daar hoop ik toe te komen aan de dingen die ik het meest waardeer. Lezen, schrijven, naar buiten kijken. Bovenal vind ik er rust. De stad is voor mij  te druk geworden. Gehaast. Het is ook belangrijk dat ik dan op een uur rijden van mijn zuster woon. In die zin ben ik niet van de stad afhankelijk. Eigenlijk heb ik mijn leven lang met dezelfde waarden geleefd: eenheid is diversiteit. Dat zou ik ook graag aan Amsterdam willen meegeven.
Issue #011 Published: 07-03-2017 // Written by: Jacqueline Schoemaker
Pay your way to the bottom
Yesterday I saw a woman opening an underground garbage container with a key card. Was it my imagination, or did some inner mechanism actually weigh the plastic bag she was disposing of before it dropped it onto the other trash with a thudding sound? When the brain encounters an unknown event, it searches for something to compare the experience to. What it (mine) came up with was the image of a confined monkey presenting its banana peel to a carer for inspection. The second, more frightening search result my brain delivered was the notion that this monkey could be me. If a fellow citizen was put in a situation in which she had to identify herself in order to dispose of her trash, it could as well be me. I had been walking in a social housing area near the waterfront of the IJ in Amsterdam Noord. Back home, across the water, I googled the phenomenon of the waste disposal card. It turned out that in the whole district of Noord, and only in that district, the garbage containers are locked and inhabitants are required to use a key card to open them. Why was this so? And why exclusively there? The only thing I could think of that sets Noord apart from the rest of the city is the water of the river. And the fact that the inhabitants are generally somewhat poorer than in other districts, though not poorer than in Amsterdam Zuid-Oost, a district that is also divided from the rest of the city, in that case by the land belonging to a different municipality. Though all this may reveal something about poverty and physical separation, it doesn’t explain why the waste containers in Amsterdam Noord are locked. The municipal website gives information about how inhabitants can ‘apply’ for a waste disposal card. They are required to fill in their name and address on an online form (email address and phone number are optional). People who have just moved to a rental in the neighbourhood can apply for a new card – the website keeps stressing that it’s ‘free’ – if the previous tenants have not left theirs behind. The old card will then be made ‘invalid’. It matters, apparently, who disposes of garbage. Though extensive information is given about how inhabitants can obtain a waste key card, not a clue can be found as to why the municipality decided to instate controlled garbage disposal in Noord. No one took the trouble to spend a few words on the website to explain to the inhabitants why this system is operative, a system for which these inhabitants pay in the form of waste tax.  If a person disposes of a garbage bag in a waste container on a street corner in a neighbourhood, that person is probably an inhabitant of that neighbourhood. And what would it matter if that person was an inhabitant of another neighbourhood? What deep seated intolerance for the neighbour lies at the heart of this controlled waste disposal system? Exactly there where otherness matters least and privacy matters most, the municipality differentiates and exposes.  The monkey only goes along with the game if it is rewarded. Since the people in Amsterdam Noord have no choice – they’d be punished in the form of a fine if they disposed of their garbage in any other way – there is no need for a reward. Superfluously, the city gives waste disposal card holders treats for good behaviour anyway. They receive a discount for a visit to the ‘A’dam Lookout’, the skydek of the former Shell Tower on the waterfront. For ‘only € 7,50’ they are allowed a bird’s eye view of the city. Or they are treated to a free movie at the Eye Film Institute next to the tower. Eerily, these rewards distract the inhabitants from anything to do with waste disposal: the cleanliness of the view from above, the picturesque, the imaginary immaterial space of film. Now that the brain has processed the new phenomenon, it produces a more developed image: that of the end of humanity. On a cold day a soft wind is blowing over the spacious, desolate waterfront housing area. A woman appears, alone, carrying a plastic bag. Resigned, without a whisper of remonstrance, the woman slides a key card into a slot and has her plastic bag inspected through the system that she herself has been forced to pay for. And that’s the end of it. Just like that. On a winter’s day in Amsterdam Noord. 
Issue #011 Published: 01-03-2017 // Written by: Camille de Wit
A cultural and ecological incubator in a metal cathedral
The Art of Sustainability or The Art of well-living together ! How art can be a transversal link to question all aspects of the society and support a sustainable change? This column is a showcase of talented initiatives and reflections about Art and Culture supporting the well-living in a society allowing to “meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” - Brundtland Commission on Environment and Development, 1987 A cultural and ecological incubator in a metal cathedral  Last November, I had the chance to do a daytrip in Utrecht to discover some ‘broedplaatsen’ and its residents. After biking to our first meeting place, we discovered an impressive church surrounded by a land with strange constructions. This is where I fell in love with Metaal Kathedraal. Let me introduce you to this cultural and ecological centre! Magical birth Before becoming a cultural place for artists and creative entrepreneurs, Metaal Kathedraal was a church and then a metal factory. Can you imagine a roman catholic church built in 1857 reconverted in a sidecar production plant and then in a metal factory? It took 40 years for the firm Metak to move to a real factory and to leave the church. When looking for a rehearsal studio, Maureen Baas (theatre director) found this abandoned church in 2011. The building was neglected but the location, land and buildings were really too interesting not to try to get in and to share it!  Maureen is an amazing woman, who is strong and enough obstinate to follow her dreams. She even sold her house to be able to buy the church. When you hear her speaking about Metaal Kathedraal, you just want to join in and share her passionate vision. With her partner Abel Tattje, they realized the project and made their dream come true.  Sustainable principles for a better world More than just a rehearsal studio, Metaal Kathedraal became a place to support artistic creation through studios, festivals, events, social-art program, lectures and other activities. From the beginning they wanted to be an incubator with a good relation with their environment. Social cohesion, cultural diversity, biodiversity, experimental economy, re-use resources and process orientated are their mantras to develop their project. Their vision is based on the fact that their work is in constant evolution by engaging in conversation with others and by processing experience and embrace the new.  Several ecological projects have been explored since 2011. When you visit the place, you will be able to learn for example how to realise a biomeiler heat and compost project. The biomeiler uses only garden waste and a little help from nature to be able to heat a home or a greenhouse. Another initiative was also to build wetlands to filter water. What is really ingenious is how they mix art and ecology. First of all, the surrounding became an off-grid village of ateliers and studios for artist. Maybe you wonder what off-grid means? The term can refer to living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on one or more public utilities. You can rent there a see container, hangar, wood/steel stall but also other places more beautfiul and unusual the ones than the others. Have a look to their website or go their directly! They are also supporting the art of Recylcing. Artists, industrial designers and experts worked together to create an artistic installation creates awareness about the use and reuse of waste and what you can do with it. Each visitor can follow the stream of all the waste made by the cultural center and see the use and reuse of materials. This project is open source so you can get the plan to build your own for your home and check your ecological behaviour. Imagining a new well-living  As a cultural organization, Metaal Kathedraal offered several activities for its neighbours as ecological workshops, children activities, artistic performances and great friendly dinner in an astonishing site. Through all those activities, they want to bring awareness about ecological issues and develop creativity among the inhabitants to grow a sweeter, finer and better world mixing art, culture and nature. Metaal Kathedraal doesn’t stop its action at its own outskirts and has purposed the inhabitants of Rhine Vliet to develop an Edible new district. The city of Utrecht is now building a new area with houses and facilitaties and thanks of the action of Maureen Baas, adopts an environmental plan to create a forest of fruit trees. Maureen says enthusiastically ‘It seemed fantastic that people and animals could live together in a natural habitat, where they can reap anywhere around edible plants, fruits, nuts and seeds.’ Metaal Kathedraal is a good example to show how we can build places linked with our values and taking care of our environment. If you want to learn more about this incredible place or go to one of their event, check their website: www.metaalkathedraal.nl You will be hosted warmly (and get ecological warm) by its residents. Photo: Elmar Dam  
Issue #010 Published: 28-02-2017 // Written by: Ruchama Noorda
Louisa – Child of De Kosmos
‘Amsterdam has changed… I don’t recognize it anymore, it stinks and it’s confusing and it’s not what it was’  I walk into the room at the elder house and find Louisa sitting by the coffee table in her wheelchair bathed in a strange artificial bright light. Two people are busy pouring gravel into an aquarium, which they will later fill with water.  I describe the scene to her because her eyesight isn’t what it used to be. She says  ‘How sad for those birds’.  I laugh, then she laughs too, realizing her mistake: ‘They must all think what an idiot, doesn’t she knows an aquarium is for fish...for locked up fishes who don’t even want to be there? ‘  I tell her how the aquarium builders continue with their task by adding stones and raking the gravel on the bottom into a tidy underwater Zen garden.  ‘Stones, too? How sad for those stones to be locked in there’.  I agree and ask her if everything is alive.  ‘Yes,’ she says as I help her on with her jacket, ‘Everything. And they feel to’. I push Louisa in her wheelchair over the canal bridges in the mid morning light, radiant in her bright red motor jacket. The narrow sidewalks thread their way past dimly lit basements and cellars. She tells me not to get too close. I reply that we’re safe –they’re fenced off with railings so pedestrians can’t fall in-it’s the law.  ‘Fences!’ she yells as I bend over her to hear what she’s about to say ‘How horrible!’  She continues in a quieter voice: “It’s getting worse and worse here in Amsterdam. Everything’s fenced in… even my bed has a fence round it to stop me from falling out or so they say…or wandering off at night’.  Finally, we turn into the Dam Square, buy a coffee in a bar and as I sit down next to her we start talking about music, meditation and the past.  You lived in  Amsterdam in the sixties and seventies and hung out in alternative spaces like the legendary De Kosmos Meditation Center. What do you remember? ‘De Kosmos was small, the entrance was low and narrow and you had to pass through many little doors to get in. We did meditation, breathing exercises, yoga… stuff like that – the place was always full of fit, healthy people. We’d have dinner and then sometimes take another lesson afterwards. I don’t remember exactly what we did or how we did it any more but we also did meditation.’ Where was it located?  ‘...Let me see… De Kosmos was right in front of Centraal Station. It also had a parking lot for bicycles under it. It wasn’t so expensive; it was basic and cheap.’  (Actually Louisa is mixing up the locations of De Kosmos and the Oibibio New Age Center here. See note below).  Was it a squat?  ‘No it was just a normal building. I will try to remember...’ Yes, I thought it would be good to write down your memories from those days. It was a special period, an interesting time in the city’s history, and it could also be instructive/inspiring for people who are trying to set up alternative spaces today. What about the food at De Kosmos?  ‘We always ate soup, almost always it was vegetarian, and it was tasty. I remember lots of pumpkin soup (I think)…’ Was it macrobiotic? ‘No, not in the beginning that came later... sometimes we peeled potatoes.’  Did all the lessons and sessions happen at the same time? ‘Yes, several big rooms with yoga or something and we also did massage.’  Did you massage each other? ‘No, for the most part we got lessons in massage. There was also a very plain simple sauna. We didn’t wear clothes in it, of course. We were all naked and then afterwards or in between sessions we’d jump into a cold bath outside in the yard to cool down and there was also a smaller room where you could lie down on mats. Here I’d fall asleep some times. We’d go there mainly on Friday nights. There were also many concerts going on till midnight or later. There was always music in the building..’ What kind of people visited De Kosmos? ‘People from school and the university... many students. I studied law.’  So other law students also visited De Kosmos?  ‘Yes, many of them did.’  I wouldn’t think such an alternative space would be a typical hang out spot for law students... ‘(emphatic/annoyed) But it was! … it had more to do with age than what you were studying..’  Was De Kosmos the first place you got to know people doing yoga? ‘No. I already knew a woman in my neighborhood in the Scheldestraat who taught yoga... After yoga and dinner there’d be dancing...’ What type of music did you dance to?  ‘The Beatles, live music... I don’t know... Indian music…chanting mantras.. I don’t remember it so well. It’s all so long ago… it’s sunk so deep inside my memory. But it was a beautiful time. It’s great that you were there to’.  Actually, Louisa I wasn’t there, but its good to go back in time with you. NOTE: De Kosmos was located at Prins Hendrikkade 142 in the building now occupied by De Appel Arts Centre. Some confusion also from my side since even Wikipedia mixes up the two locations on the Prins Hendrikkade. The site Louisa refers to in front of Centraal station is the ornate fin de siècle Mercurius building designed by Dutch architect Yme Gerardus Bijvoets which opened in 1883. In the 1990s the Mercurius building was home to the Oibibio New Age Center, which Louisa may have visited too. In the late 70s De Kosmos with its sauna facility and yoga, psychotropic drug and rebirthing sessions together with other alternative therapies made Prins Hendrikkade 142 an important spiritual hub in Amsterdam’s counter-culture. Lectures, film screenings, concerts and dance nights made the location one of the most progressive spaces in Amsterdam. The Center opened in 1967 as a clubhouse or youth center and was initially called Fantasio but its name was changed to De Kosmos in 1969. The Oibibio New Age Center, which ran similar programs to those offered at the Fantasio /Kosmos.was set up in 1991 by spiritual entrepreneur, Ronald Jan Heijn whose family founded the Albert Heijn supermarket chain. In 2000 he filed for bankruptcy and the building now houses an Albert Heijn supermarket.  Ruchama Noorda is an artist whose work is inspired by counter cultural movements and Life Reform ideas.  Her research led her to Louisa who has told her many stories about Amsterdam in the late sixties and seventies. Photo: Lennart Bugel