How can we bring people together in Amsterdam Oost?

Specifically in a district as colourful as Oost, what great idea can connect more people together? How can Amsterdam be more socially inclusive?

Published by Sarah on 15/03/2018

If you’re living in a city as diverse as Amsterdam, you’ll start to develop a sense of what different neighbourhoods offer in terms of culture and atmosphere. De Pijp gives us a wide mix of cozy cafés and ethnic cuisines, whilst Westerpark shows off vibrant greeneries and a wealth of cultural happenings at the Westergasfabriek.

In total, there are ten distinctive neighbourhoods in the city. We want to shed a little more light on the East of Amsterdam, or as we Amsterdammers simply call it: Oost, an area undergoing rapid gentrification since the 1990s.

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The Most Diverse District in Amsterdam: Oost

Half of Amsterdam's 800,000 residents are non-Dutch in origin, with 180 different nationalities and 45% of ethnic minorities. With its lively neighbourhoods, the district of Oost can be seen as a prime example that mirrors the city's diversity. 

In Oost you can find anything from traditional Turkish bakeries, to Middle Eastern lunchrooms, and Surinamese supermarkets. It's a vibrant area in the process of regeneration, moving forward whilst having relatively more social housing, unemployment, and crime than any other district in the city. 

Newcomers, refugees, students, immigrants, expats, there’s a wide range of different backgrounds in Oost - both culturally and professionally.

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By the People, for the People

It's no secret that Amsterdam experiences our fair-share of social challenges (what city doesn't?). Our social problems vary within areas such as unemployment, safety, poverty, health, and social exclusion. As the city's marginalized population increases with each passing year, so does the notion that more and more newcomers feel displaced.

With the city's characteristic 'bottom-up approaches', citizens are encouraged to participate in urban planning, development, and perhaps most notably, social inclusion. With the emergence of different new businesses, cultural facilities, and social groups, Amsterdam Oost is experiencing rapid transformation. 

From disinteresting to dynamic, transforming Oost included a lot of effort from residents with a range of different knowledge, talents, and cultural backgrounds which in some shape or form, gave back to the community. In collaboration with Impact Hub and the KIT Royal Institute, we aimed to seek out these types of initiatives; one with the focus of bringing people together. 

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Bringing Citizens Together 

This and more is what the Amsterdam Social Inclusion Challenge is all about. Previously, we hosted two events that helped launch the challenge and facilitate a lab session. In these gatherings, we met some inspiring initiatives that are not only curious about the challenge, but motivated to develop their plans and rise-up to the opportunity. Let's take a look!

Stichting in My Backyard - The IMBY-group helps newcomers and refugees get in touch with locals in their neighbourhood, facilitating successful integration.

The Graphic Stories - Stories that aim to touch both the heart and the mind, turning real experiences into illustrated, graphic comics.

PlayBack Theatre - Interactive and educational theatre; performers act out audience stories on the spot, displaying specific emotions and personal layers.

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BOOST Amsterdam - a meeting place and inclusive community in Amsterdam Oost where newcomers and local residents work together on direct integration.

Delite Labs - an inclusive startup school for aspiring entrepreneurs and newcomers, supporting them in developing and realizing their professional projects.

SAM - helping to bring people together, a mobile application providing an effective solution to loneliness by facilitating meaningful social contact. 

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Amsterdam Social Inclusion Challenge

The same diversity you see in Oost isn't translated when concerning the SDG House at the KIT Royal Institute: a building located at the edge of this predominantly new immigrant neighbourhood. With inclusion as an integral part of its vision, our collective intention and challenge to you is to bring that same diversity you see in Oost, into this community.

The Amsterdam Social Inclusion Challenge aims to find a solution to work within and alongside the SDG House. As one of the challenges hosted on the socialchallenge.eu platform, it garners the search for innovative solutions that invite social inclusion and diversity into a community. The main question here is, how do we bring multiculturalism in?

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Impact cannot happen in isolation. It requires collective action.' So what’dya say, do you have a great idea to solve this challenge? Are you a bridge builder between Amsterdam's different cultures?

Words & Photography by Sarah Picolet

All the relevant information you'll need is linked throughout this article, but feel free to knock on our door for any questions at - knockknock@acitymadebypeople.com

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