As a social entrepreneur and one of the founding fathers of collectives Geef om Jan Eef and Hotel Buiten I am a firm believer in community driven projects in neighborhoods. They strengthen not only the community but also our sense of control and ownership of places and spaces.
By Jeroen Jonkers
During the ABCitiEs Interregional meeting in Athens, entrepreneurs, policymakers and researchers teamed-up to exchange experiences, knowledge, and ideas. Although the history, smells, sights and names of the cases in the five European regions differ, a lot of the dynamics are similar. For example: during our walks and talks with the locals I noticed that although the specific challenges local stakeholders face might diverge, the interaction patterns seemed familiar. In many ways local shopkeepers in Amsterdam have the same ‘suspicion’ about artists and creatives ‘suddenly’ arriving in empty buildings in ‘their’ neighborhood in an attempt to ‘solve’ local problems. Just like we saw in Athens.
Enjoy being small-scale
If Area Based Collaborative Entrepreneurs want to stay in the business, they have to professionalize. Often this means becoming more bureaucratic. Creative collectives resent the fact they have to step in line with a bureaucratic system in order to get access to a building or funding. My advice to ABCE would be: Enjoy being a small-scale initiative that works in a different flow. Don’t turn yourself into a big bureaucracy too soon.
Work at partnerlevel
Nowadays local authorities are rediscovering ABCE as a (lead) partner in solving problems in fast changing and increasingly complex and intertwined localities and neighborhoods in cities. Big professionalized bureaucracies need to learn how to work at a partner level with these smaller initiatives. It will not only make ABCE more sustainable but also our streets, neighborhoods and cities.