I was recently taking a boatload of guests around the area of Amsterdam known as Prinseneiland, my favorite neighborhood. As I pointed to the old buildings and the site of former ship builders and tobacco warehouses, I noticed some tiny signs in a few windows. Bringing the boat a bit closer to these beautiful homes, I read the title of the flyer out loud “Ai Amsterdam”. The flyer spoke about being tired of the city of Amsterdam’s excessive rules about every little thing someone can or can’t do, from walking your dog in the park without a leash, to standing at an outdoor bar with a drink in your hand. The flier said to join the movement if you shared these concerns. I slowly pulled away thinking about all the increasingly heavy handed policies effecting seemingly every activity in this once unique and free spirited town.
A few days later, my buddy Mindcaster of Amsterdamize links to an article in the Dutch press; Ai Amsterdam was meeting with members of the city council. Again the article spoke about the attempted regulation of where you can stand outside a pub with a drink… actually more like how you can’t anymore – something to that effect.
After seeing so many cities around the world carry out their “clean up” campaigns to try and give their town a family friendly super tidy image where everyone is happy and ready for your tourism, Ai Amsterdam has certainly caught my attention. I believe it was on their website where they pointed out that with all the over-regulating of life in the city, we also lose something very special about who we are and how we live.
I’ve only begun reading about Ai Amsterdam and in the end it might just be a flash in the pan. But I’ve heard enough to know I’d like to sit down with some of the organizers and layout what is at stake and what can be done in the name of leaving some things outside the reach of city hall.