The Architecture of Comunity in Amsterdam #be2camp

Part of me wanted to wait and craft the blog post but it had to go!

Anyhow the comments that come back to blogs always make a blog 10 times better anyway!

We have stopped by in Amsterdam on route to Paris - these days when I land in a City I am interested in the way it communicates and people ‘community-cate’. Amsterdam has a long history of communities that collide together and somehow work out a way to co-exist.

So to David, as a rule I avoid tour guides and take my lead from Trip Advisor, Yelp and Meet Up. However, I blinked and was booked onto a tour without my consent and that is how we met David the tour guide. He was much more than “Anne Frank lived here, please buy a T-shirt” instead he opened up little pockets of co-operation that help this progressive society constantly evolve.

The tour was in Spanish and David was deliciously insightful about the Amsterdam communities work together – The Church and the prostitution industry in earlier years and Police and Squatters in later years.

What struck a chord with me is the underlying commitment with residents and the local authority to treasure the ‘spirit of Amsterdam’ this occurs in reinventing old buildings for modern use, the quickest example of this is the number of gate houses and churches that have been made into decent cafes and restaurants. Many of these places also run concerts and plays so the community is built together allowing business, food, music and education to come together at the same time. This allows people to share and practice their art.

I strongly believe that people connect best with a background of relatedness and find a purpose there, hence my passion for Meet Up. If you put on an event for Accountants the people who show up want to sell to accountants rather than accountants.

It is worth noting that Amsterdam is a specific type of place which is why this works, it has a very high level of acceptance and tolerance built into the City’s DNA, so if when you get 50 people in a room listening to a Mozart concert looking at a Rembrandt painting eating sausages and pancakes they will be an epic mix.

David took us round Amsterdam at and delivered insights at an ‘enlightening speed’ there is a strong sense that the architecture is holding onto the history of this city and at the same time allowing new generations to celebrate, learn and embrace the both colourful and  chequered history.

My mission this afternoon is to find the building Marlow sets off from in ‘Heart of Darkness’. This is blog is part of a bigger discussion that is forming around the Be2camp and Linchpin communities – join in! Start by posting your idea or opinion here.