By: Merlijn van Hulst and Mark van Ostaijen
On Thursday July 5th, the second Local Lab took place in Amsterdam, at Zid Theatre. A group of 15 people (3 external partners, 10 smart urban intermediaries and 2 researchers) came together to discuss and exchange ideas on what it means ‘to make a difference in your neighbourhood’.
1) Comparative insights
The afternoon started with a speed-networking exercise, to get to know each other better. This resulted in new connections. After the exercise, the group responded to some of the comparative findings derived from the previous four Local Labs. The Amsterdam group elaborated on findings, saying that:
- In different time-phases you need different skills and values
- It is at times not just important to connect, but also to disconnect; you also need to dare to ’say no’
- This work is sometimes like advertisement business, you have to tempt people (‘it is like a Mars bar, you need to get people to want it’)
- Doing generates joining
- Sometimes money is not a problem and sometimes it is
- Sometimes citizens make local government unnecessarily big (much can be done without it)
- Cherish both your formal and informal networks
- Sometimes you just need to claim spaces
After this exchange of thoughts, four SUIs presented and visualized through photos an answer to the question: ‘what enables you/ what hinders you to make a difference in your neighbourhood?’
The presentations showed the rich variety of working environments of the SUIs and stimulated the minds of the group. It inspired to focus on issues such as:
- how to ‘keep yourself together’
- how ‘to find words when there seems no language available’
- how to make your work visible
- how to keep remain inspired
- the importance of certain people in your surroundings that enable you to do what you do
- to see the power, sensitive strengths and vulnerability of people
- the question: what is worth the effort?
3) Transnational Lab: Glasgow
In the final part of the LL2, the group was asked to find out which challenges they face in their practice. The group was divided in subgroups and formulated a range of interesting challenges. After this, the participants selected two challenges the group found most important:
- How do you keep yourself inspired?
- What is the ideal space (literal) to get together and connect people?
These two challenges are given to the Glasgow team. They are asked to tell the Amsterdam team at the upcoming Transnational Lab in Glasgow (13-14 September) how they deal with these challenges. The Glasgow team, which met simultaneously, gave Amsterdam the following two challenges:
- What is the best mistake you’ve ever learnt from?
- Can you give some examples of ‘getting it right’ for communities and why it was right?
Let’s see what answers the teams come up with!
After finalizing with practicalities, evaluations and filling in some forms, we were happy to look back at an extremely informative session. We rounded off our Local Lab with drinks. Overall, we had a very productive meeting which will enable us to design the upcoming Transnational Lab. We highly value the participation of all who were able to join and thank them for their efforts and input. We also thank Zid Theatre for its excellent hosting of the session. The next Local Lab in Amsterdam will take place near the end of 2018.