Humans Arise from Amsterdam Caves

by bicyclemark

Although my mind is on my journey to New Orleans, which is just one week away, it is impossible to ignore Amsterdam these days.

Yes, the city I call my wife is in bloom. I guess we skipped winter this year, because our first string of sunny and cool days is here, and it seems any human that can move on something or be moved in something is out on the town. They have emerged from the Dutch winter slumber, and by god… they’re everywhere.

As I rode to Krizu’s, to continue her new apartment painting, I zigzagged between runners, skaters, stoners, seniors, and wheelchair racers. Or so I think. Maybe they zigzagged around me as I struggled to snap shots from my fancy camera phone thing.

And of course, in the great tradition of Amsterdamers, I’ve also found time to work in the garden. Mostly cursing the neighborhood cat for using my garden as a litter box. Things are budding and Ive cut back the perrenials and shrubs. Now I can begin construction of a security system to scare the crap out of cats who are not welcome in my garden. Now the neighbor’s rabbits, they’re always welcome, cause they have nice attitudes.

Anyway what was I saying, oh… its suddenly spring and this is the part where you remember why you love this city and endure the bleak grey winter.

Tomorrow I’ll get back to global concerns and social justice… for now as I continue to plot the course from New Orleans to North Florida, here’s me covering the magical Lloyd hotel for Trippist.com.

bm183 Amsterdam Creative Spaces, The Story of OT301

by bicyclemark

The city of Amsterdam is famous for many things, among them, the great movement of creative people who occupied abandoned buildings over the past 30 years. Yet slowly the movement is changing, as are the laws, and squatting has become increasingly difficult. OT301 is performance space, restaurant, printshop, cafe, cinema, and much more; a unique example of a building and a group of people who have found a way to keep their dream alive amidst the wave of buyouts and evictions sweeping the city. One of the original founders, Colin, sat down with me to discuss what they’ve done and more broadly – what is happenning to such a famous movement in this town.

we talk about:
– The initial squatting of the building
– Relations with the local community
– Functions of the building
– Negociation with the local government
– The squatting scene historically
– Changes in the scene in the past decade
– The politics of squatting
– other European squatters and cities
to know more you’ll have to listen…

The building.

Colin mentions: Broedplaatsen Amsterdam (english version)

also recommended at the end of this program: Euronews (no comment segment now in podcast format)

Fragile Continent

by bicyclemark

The following were my biggest concerns while trying to get across town during what turned out to be the worst storm of the decade in the Netherlands:

    Don’t get blown off your bike.

    Don’t get blown into a canal.

    Don’t be pushed onto oncoming traffic.

It may seem odd or stupid, but journey to and from the otherside of town featured some very scary moments where I nearly got into some terrible messes, and was indeed knocked clear off my bike. (read my story on trippist)

While the European Union recently announced some fairly lofty goals for reducing greenhouse emissions by 2020, it is very clear that whatever happens, this continent is going to suffer some very crazy weather. Some very dangerous weather.

Scanning the headlines last night, and all day today, I couldn’t believe the damage. People crushed, people blown into the ocean, into car accidents, into trees. Sure its no Tsunami or earthquake, but for a Europe that normally feels so ontop of things and ready for danger and prepared for whatever disasters, you really get a sense of how fragile everything is after a storm like this one.

No trains ran in Germany. The beautiful Hauftbahnhoft station closed down, as a huge chunk of it broke. Same here in the Netherlands. Container ships abandoned and sinking in the English channel, an oil spill in Rotterdam harbor. The list goes on and on.

We’re already paying the price for the reckless development of our ancestors, not to mention our current generation of working people. Considering all the havoc, any government that does not have a serious plan for cutting emissions and developing in a more sustainable and less polluting way, is not only stupid and dangerous… they are criminals. (no matter what continent we’re talking about)

An Inspiring Amsterdam Movement

by bicyclemark

Over the years, I’ve often mentioned the war-on-squatters being carried out by the government here in Amsterdam, and seemingly – throughout European cities. Everywhere you look there seems to be some creative and eclectic group of squatters being evicted from their home which they’ve usually worked very hard to make livable. Most recently there was that eviction followed by street clash in Copenhagen… for example.

Yet there are some examples where things are still possible and resourceful squatters find new strategies to keep doing what they do best. Tonight, as I dined with my dear Krizushka, we enjoyed the fruits of one Amsterdam squat that has done just that: Overtoom 301.

I wouldn’t claim to be a familiar face over at 301. Although I visit the former film academy once or twice a month, I’ve not yet developed the warm hello and conversations that the regulars have. But that doesn’t keep me from enjoying the atmosphere whenever i go for a vegan dinner, or just some pie and music. (Wireless internet doesn’t hurt either)

Reading over the latest updates, posted on the wall outside, the squatters of 301, under threat of eviction like so many others these last few years, successfully raised the money to buy their building last year. Ensuring that they can continue to offer artist work space, underground music shows, film screenings, vegan dinners, and all the comforts of a bar/lounge that welcomes all walks of life.. including the numerous children and dogs you’ll run into while sitting down for a meal.

Krizushka and I savored not only the food, but also the moment tonight. Sitting in what is perhaps one of the most encouraging and inspiring locations in the city, that despite all the complications of being foreigners, we love very much.