zondag 12 maart 2017


Regarding questions received from outside The Netherlands I would like to explain something about the volunteer driven social initiative Koffiekring Zaanstad. The name koffiekring refers to people sitting together to drink their coffee. Zaanstad is the name of the town located not far from Amsterdam. By the way between 1 and 2 million tourists are visiting this area each year because of the open-air museum Zaanse Schans, with authentic houses and windmills.

In 2013 I started to interview vulnerable people with all kind of social problems. Many of them not able to meet the demands of actual society, where they are confronted with complexity. They must handle the rules surrounding social benefits and control their spending. Often resulting in debts by the lack of good budgeting, addiction and the temptations of the unlimited choice of products and services offered.

Especially for these groups a plan has been developed to transform social benefits and other supporting funds in a meaningful life. Direct payment turned into indirect payment. This is subject to further study. 

In the meantime, the situation has worsened despite a so called upward trend of the economy. More and more people, not targeted before, enter the criteria for our attention. The actual money and profit driven system infected practically all sectors such a labour market, healthcare, housing etc.
We see the first results of automation, the ‘silent’ revolution. From mail sorting machines, completely automated Tetra pack factories to white-collar jobs with insurance companies and banks. We can read it all in the international news that companies like IBM are proud that ‘Watson’ will have more and more human capabilities.

On the other hand, people face great uncertainty in the changing labour market. From employment contract to flex work. New contracts are offered with diluted conditions. Uncertainty and pressure increased the number of people suffering a burnout by 3% in the past years. Estimated at about one million in the Netherlands.  Some 800.000 persons take antidepressants.

In the concept plan linked to this initiative environment plays an important role in the form of small scale local production for own use. Trying to give back more certainty to participants. The question should be answered what consumer goods we need and what products are unnecessary, given the abnormal assortment we find for instance in supermarkets.

In other words, this is a platform for people facing difficulties in this rapidly changing world also challenging the existing economy of growth. I am surrounded by citizens delivering new ideas for a different society. The real hope for the future!

Wim Verhoeven