Locally Speaking – Slums, Squats & Skyscrapers

Locally Speaking – Slums, Squats & Skyscrapers

Locally Speaking: an English talk-show with Dutch local news.

Students in shipping containers, breweries in former animal shelters and hotels in cranes. Is it too soon to discuss living arrangements?

Tonight we take you on a walk through the rich history of Amsterdam city planning, social housing and vacancy versus gentrification.
Find out what’s going on in the outskirts of town, why it’s impossible to rent cheaper then €1000 a month while there are so many vacant offices, why half the city has moved to Almere and why the remaining half is making a solid attempt to buy the coal plant in the west of town and turn it into a chocolate factory.

For our panel we have invited Tracy Metz: architecture journalist and expert on urban development, Dr. Wouter van Gent: Assistant Professor Urban Studies from Amsterdam University and Simon van Dommelen: urban advisor and founder of LOLA, a Dutch foundation committed to making vacant properties available for social initiatives.

Tonight is hosted by Jeanette M. Vermeulen-Rodd from South-Africa.

The rest of the program includes:

Greg’s intermezzo:   
Comedian Greg Shapiro reflects on his ‘UnDutchable’ experiences with the Dutch people.

Hidden gems of Amsterdam: Bijlmermeer
De Bijlmer in the South-East of Amsterdam was built in the late 60’s and early 70’s and used to be defined by a lot of high-rises and in some ways could be compared to the projects in New York. Nowadays the area has been renewed and diversified and is one of the most culturally diverse areas in Amsterdam but is still rarely visited by tourists. Sara Mattens, founder of Vinger.nl, a creative studio in Bijlmermeer will share what it is like to grow up in the Bijlmer and talk about some of the current art projects.

A local’s week:
In 2010 the Dutch government prohibited squatting in houses that had been empty over a year and lot of buildings in Amsterdam were cleared. A number of squats have been turned into cultural locations over the years. Floris de Zachtbaardige who used to organize cultural activities in a squat on the Raamgracht now is the founder of Vondelbunker, underneath the bridge of the Vondelpark. He will share his underground plans for the upcoming week.

Jazzy tunes:
Before and after the program by DJ Duke John.

At ‘Locally Speaking’ you can relax with an mimosa while our guests browse the headlines, inform you on Dutch news, culture, nature and local fun facts from the in-crowd. Stop by and brush up on what’s hot and what’s not in this small country below sea-level.

Photo by local photographer Bien Schols
“It all started when a client couldn’t pay me for the copy I wrote for her. Instead of money, she gave me her camera. And that’s how my journey started. Wandering the streets of Amsterdam I try to write stories, not by copy but by pictures.” Follow her on Instagram


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Tracy Metz

Tracy Metz writes for NRC, De Groene Amsterdammer and Architectural Record and is a correspondent for the Radio1 talkshow De Ochtend. Tracy is director of the John Adams Institute, the center of American culture in the Netherlands and has her own live talkshow Stadsleven, about living in cities.




Dr. Wouter van Gent

Dr. Wouter van Gent is Assistant Professor Urban Studies at Amsterdam University. He is mainly interested
in spatial patterning with regard to class, life course, ethnicity and sexuality: household mobility, segregation
and gentrification and neighbourhood dynamics.






Simon van Dommelen

You will have seen a number of wonderful temporary spaces and community projects combining workspace, artist studio’s, coffee bars, restaurants and what not pop up around town in the recent years, connecting artists, refugees, creative entrepreneurs and people just looking for a shot of caffeine or a nice party.  Simon van Dommelen is advisor, connector and initiator of LOLA (Stichting Leegstand Oplossers Amsterdam), a coalition of social organisations that find alternative (temporary) destinations for vacant property in Amsterdam and turn these locations into spaces for inspiration and connection. LOLA has turned 6 buildings in Amsterdam into social initiatieves. Two of the most recent ones are Lola Luid (former school) and Lola Lik (former prison turned boxing school and escape room).








Greg Shapiro

Comedian, American and Dutchman Greg Shapiro (1968) came to the Netherlands in 1994 to help establish comedy theater Boom Chicago. In 2007 Shapiro presented ‘Comedy Central News’ and then went solo. He’s since worked with several Dutch radio and TV stations. You will recognize his voice from the viral ‘Netherlands Second’ video. It’s great.


Floris de Zachtbaardige

Foto door Jeroen Paling

Squatting wasn’t criminalized until 2010.  Floris de Zachtbaardige is part of Stichting Nulpunt which used to host cultural programs and underground art in squathouse Galerie Schijnheilig. This nomadic collective was dedicated to claiming neglected spaces and transforming them into creative, freely accessible and non-commercial places. After the local government either closed down or legalized several squats in Amsterdam, they asked Stichting Nulpunt to host programs in De Vondelbunker, an old bunker in the middle of the Vondelpark. Floris is also part of the citizens initiative to attempt to close down the coal power station Hemweg and give it an alternative destination (like a chocolate factory.







Sara Mattens

Sara Mattens and creative partner Jeffrey Croese

Vinger.nl is a creative studio based in the De Bijlmermeer district of Amsterdam. They find relevant forms to forward good idea(l)s in the contemporary city. Whether it’s by creating new concepts and formats, by providing strategy and advice or by programming and producing shows and events. Sara Mattens (1981) joined Vinger.nl in the early new millennium, co-directing and establishing the creative studio in Amsterdam Zuidoost. Her curiosity, hands on mentality and academic background in culture and linguistics provide a solid base for the creative practice.










Jeannette M. Vermeulen-Rodd (host)

As a small town girl from South Africa, Jeannette’s love of broadcasting began with her own small radio show at school. After a booming career in sales and recruitment she followed her heart to Amsterdam, where she pursued her talent for coaching, acting and presenting. Jeannette has played roles in short films, and acted on Scandal (a popular sitcom in South Africa); as well as presented international documentary film festivals; and hosted live talk shows. Jeannette is the creator of A Million Stories. An online TV program which inspires and empowers our human community to live truthfully.









Duke John (DJ)

Before and after the program DJ Stephan Wolven aka Duke John (resident DJ at Studio/K, Melkweg and several parties in Amsterdam will fill the room with his groovy mixes of jazz, funk and hip-hop to create the perfect vibe for some good conversation. Listen to him fixing the speaker on Soundcloud.