A project to explore how the commons transform public action in Europe
Amsterdam, from a Commons City to a Fearless City ? 9-12 dec 2019

The Enacting the Commons consortium is heading north for its fifth expedition. After two days of discussions at the Roumics (in Lille), we are heading to the Netherlands, stopping at Amsterdam, a pioneering city in the field of commons.

Download here the Logbook of this trip to Amsterdam

How does the City of Amsterdam and the new majority elected in 2018 grasp the issue of the commons? For what reasons and by what means? How do commons question the dynamics of Amsterdam’s Sharing City?

Since 2015, the City of Amsterdam has seized the collaborative economy as a lever to develop its territory. This sector was seen as a lever to meet local challenges of mobility, housing, etc. From supporting local start-ups to negotiating with international platforms, the City has been proactive in this area. Amsterdam being a city “at the cutting edge of innovation”, it is also often cited as an example of “Smart City”. In parallel with this dynamic, some actors such as the Commons Network are mobilizing to defend and promote the place of the commons in the territory’s development strategy. Local elected officials are also increasingly attentive to these topics and have shown interest in exchanging good practices and sharing approaches with French cities. Moreover, a week before our arrival will be held in Amsterdam an international conference “Future is Public, Democratic Ownership of the Economy”, in connection with the Fearless Cities movement (international network of cities and movements with a municipalist perspective initiated by the city of Barcelona). The commons, the cooperative economy, the welcoming of refugees and even the right to the city will be at the heart of discussions!

Beyond city-led initiatives, civil society has not been outdone. There are a host of very different citizens’ initiatives in Amsterdam. The Commons Networks association carried out a census of “commons” in the Netherlands via the De Meent platform. This work aims to build a network between commoners and to bring out a political program for the movement of commons at the national level, through the organization of a national assembly of commons. They will therefore be able to enlighten us on the Dutch context around the commons and introduce some interesting initiatives in Amsterdam such as VokomoKum, a collective organized around food, or a new cooperative housing project De Nieuwe Meent. The question of housing is particularly interesting in Amsterdam, because of the large squat movement which had more than 20,000 members in the 1980s. How did the public actor respond to this squat movement? How has this influenced its housing policy (especially on social housing)? And more generally, how do these “commons” initiatives influence the city of Amsterdam’s public policies?

Finally, the cooperative movement seems particularly interesting to question because of its scope, its diversity (energy, housing, health, …) but also its desire to structure itself as a network. Jurgen van der Heijden, who actively participates in the network of cooperatives at the national level, invites us to meet both energy cooperatives and care cooperatives to discuss their governance and their link with public actors in their respective fields. In a second step, we can all explore together the question of the cooperative model: what is the importance of the cooperative movement in Amsterdam? What is their positioning towards the public actor? To what extent is it possible, and beneficial, to try to make links between cooperatives that are interested in different subjects? Like the Hart voor of K-buurt, a neighborhood organization that is trying to build an ecosystem of cooperatives via, what they call a “cooperative neighborhood network”.

Find here the Program of this trip to Amsterdam

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