Bootcamp #3 – The Netherlands, July 2023
Exploring how to increase inclusivity in a local community in Amsterdam East
in partnership with with Stichting De Meevaart
Our first AnthroArt Amsterdam boot camp was held in collaboration with Stichting De Meevaart, a community centre in Amsterdam Oost. De Meevaart started as several people from the neighbourhood came together to transform a former public school building that had become empty into a community space. They wanted to strengthen the social networks of the neighbourhood and have a dedicated space run by and for the community. Now, almost ten years later, De Meevaart is a diverse and thriving hub with a communal space for food and event hosting and several rooms where a complex network of organisations run activities (i.e. chess club, sports, repair cafe, dance, language) or co-work. Today, as originally intended, this space is still run fully by volunteers, with a collective & collaborative approach. Their diversity is a strength as it keeps them connected to the pulse of the neighbourhood but also a challenge as they strive to make everyone feel seen and included. This challenge is what brought them to our AnthroArt project. In several conversations between Tim (the manager of De Meevaart) and Rosalie (Namla), the question crystallised: how can we make De Meevaart an (even) more inclusive space to the multiple types of communities and groups that are part of it?
As Namla, our bootcamps are our contribution to making anthropology more visible and applied to the challenges of our time as well as putting it in direct service to communities. So we were excited to start exploring the question of De Meevaart alongside the three teams.
We were hosted in De Meevaart for the entirety of our bootcamp. We had a room on one of the upstairs floors for teaching and focused work. During the day we mingled with the staff and the visitors in the cafe, terrace and reception area. This was very valuable as it helped our participants get a better feel of the space they were trying to support, made access to interviews easier and it helped them get inspiration for their experiments and prototypes.
The first two days of the bootcamp were research plan, fieldwork and analysis. Tim (the manager of De Meevaart) kicked off the bootcamp by introducing the challenge and made himself available to the three teams for interviews and further connections. Corina and Rosalie (the co-facilitators of the bootcamp and teachers of the first two days) shared from their experience and guided the teams in research and analysis. Each team went through their own journey in figuring out what they wanted to research around inclusion, running the fieldwork and coming up with an analysis and argument. Team One chose to focus on emotions and staff resilience, Team Two focused on youth engagement and Team Three focused on space and how to increase connection and visibility of various groups.
The last two teaching days of the bootcamp days focused on design, prototyping, testing storytelling and pitching. Freddie, the designer teacher joined from Berlin and – using design thinking – helped the teams develop and test their first ideas. To increase staff resilience, Team One chose to develop a booklet of values and a training in nonviolent communication. To increase youth engagement, Team Two chose to create a youth chapter in De Meevaart. To increase connection and visibility, Team Three chose to build a dedicated space (a “window”) that each organisation could personalise as they saw fit, thus retaining the freedom to connect in their own way while still celebrating the diversity of De Meevaart. Art teacher Sally helped them build visuals and mockups of their prototypes. Independent artist Noor Issa also dropped by and helped the teams out with visual support and advice. Equipped with the prototypes the teams tested their ideas inside the Meevaart with the staff but also outside with the neighbourhood. Then, the teams put it all together into a pitch which they showcased successfully to representatives from De Meevaart on our last and final day.
Below are some words of two of our bootcamp participants, Butet and Hasna about the experience.
Butet Manurung, participant Team Two
“I thoroughly enjoyed the Fast Ethnography and Design learning process. Each step proved invaluable in keeping me on track whenever I felt distracted or uncertain. The logical approach to feasibility and the clarity of research benefits made it easy to follow. The two design days, using the frames method from research question to ‘How might we Help,’ are incredibly valuable and both Corina and Rosalie are approachable and check on us to make sure we are at the same page. Additionally, receiving positive feedback from the head of Meevaart, for whom our research was dedicated, brought me extra joy. My only regret is not having more time during the design days.
Despite having undergone anthropology training from undergraduate to PhD level and engaging in activism with indigenous communities for the past 20 years, this 1-week ethno-bootcamp still proved beneficial to me. Working in an urban setting with just two design days and two days of fieldwork didn’t diminish its value. On the contrary, it taught me to simplify complex matters while remaining realistic and focused on creating tangible benefits.”
Hasna Fadhilah, participant Team Three
“Participating in the fast ethnography bootcamp was truly invaluable, as it profoundly changed my approach to research design, and real-life problem-solving beyond academic settings. It provided me with valuable skills in rapid ethnographic research, broadened my understanding of diverse cultures, and empowered me with confidence to tackle complex problems creatively and collaboratively. These experiences have enhanced my research capabilities and will have a lasting impact on my future endeavours
Further below, you will find some snapshots from the bootcamp days and podcast perspectives from Team One, the co-facilitators and the art teacher. Make sure to come back here as we will be enriching this space with other deliverables like illustrations and other perspectives.
For the perspective of Team One – have a listen to the podcast here.
For the perspective of Corina & Rosalie, bootcamp co-facilitators and research teachers – have a listen to the podcast here.
For the perspective of Sally, the art teacher – have a listen to the podcast here.