Radicalizing the local

Jeanne van Heeswijk - Afrikaanderwijk Cooperative
The Netherlands
Public space

The Afrikaanderwijk Cooperative is a strong and flexible Dutch cooperative association that is set up to improve the social and economical situation of the inhabitants of the Rotterdam Afrikaanderwijk (in the south of the city). The organization was set up as a durational follow-up of the successful Freehouse art project. Economic sustainability is aimed through co-operative cultural production. An inclusive urban development is achieved through stimulating community participation and self-organization.

Projects history
Inspired skill can powerfully lead people’s development. Unfortunately, Rotterdam does not always take the creative potential of its inhabitants seriously. Since it's inception in 1998, Freehouse has created space for encounter, both literally as well as metaphorically. It developed a skill-based approach that stimulates local inhabitants and shopkeepers, youngsters, artists and designers to exchange knowledge, experience and ideas.

From 2008 onwards, Freehouse has applied its approach to the Afrikaanderwijk. Economic growth is aimed through co-operative cultural production. And inclusive urban development is achieved through community participation and self-organisation. The connection of cultural with economical capital resulted in co-productions that mutually benefit participants socially and economically. Moreover, the resulting products also make the underlying cultural process visible, both locally as international and creates a common public space.

Organizational development for sustainability
As part of the organizations activities new plans for the local market where tested and several communal workshops have been set up. As a result, the neighborhood and its market are becoming a vibrant community again and the area is being put on the map as a lively spot for cultural production, both nationally and internationally.

In order to secure the accumulated capital and qualities for the local inhabitants, Freehouse developed the Afrikaanderwijk Cooperative. A durable skill-based neighborhood co-op that takes over its activities and secure the social and economical capital that has been gathered over the years. The cooperative has been set up in 2013 and was launched during the international Freehouse closing symposium 'Radicalizing the local'. It makes effective use of the organizational structure, network and experience that Stichting Freehouse build up in the area. As the neighbourhoods surrounding the Afrikaanderwijk are being redeveloped with middle class dwellings, the Cooperative works towards making the existing inhabitants share in the economic benefits of the redevelopment.

The Afrikaanderwijk is not only a place where you can find unique products and services, it also houses many talented inhabitants. After successfully experimenting with local cooperative workspaces, Freehouse decided to further increase cooperative work on a neighbourhood level. The Afrikaanderwijk Cooperative is the result and forms an umbrella organization that brings together the existing workspaces with shopkeepers, local makers, social foundations and the market organizations. In order to together create a lively inclusive common public domain.

It stimulates sustainable local production, cultural development, knowledge exchange and entrepreneurship, which are combined with shared responsibility and participation. A strong body that can acquire commissions for its members and stipulate better deals. Because local talent remains the starting point, training is provided, as well as skill-based employment. Inhabitants, entrepreneurs and social organizations in the Afrikaanderwijk can become a member and join the initiative. The resulting cultural production can strengthen the stagnating local economy. And profits are directly re-invested into the community any surplus is to used to reinforce social and cultural capacity building.

In what way does your proposal contribute to the open society?
Self-organization creates openness
The proposal shows that by actively involving inhabitants in the development of their own neighbourhood and its public space you create an open and more inclusive society. By gathering forces, knowledge, experience and cooperative production capacity inhabitants can improve not only their individual situation but also the mutual situation and position of the area. The financial flows surrounding the area will be pulled in to cooperative extract capital for social, intellectual and affective values.

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.