SET community gardens Amsterdam
SET, IJBURG AMSTERDAM – HERB, VEGETABLE, HEALING, RECREATIONAL AND CHILDREN´S GARDEN FOR SOCIAL INTEGRATION| THE NETHERLANDS | 2018 –
At SET there are 180 young refugees (with a permit) and Dutch students living together, building up a community with each other and the neighborhood. When the Amsterdam Municipality came up with this initiative we lived already here in this neighborhood. As a migrant woman myself I wanted to see, to feel how integration looks like in the Netherlands. That was the time when thousands of refugees were stranded outside the major railway-stations in the Hungarian capital Budapest. I left that country not that long before. I felt desperate and frustrated. It was quite obvious that I had to actively participate around this new initiative.
I wanted to get answers to my questions:
What is home? Where do we belong to? How do we connect? – through the language; through our interests in common or our shared past, present or future? Who am I? What motivates me on my journey to move on? Where do I belong to? How can I find my place, inner peace, balance?
And as always the answers do not come directly. They arrive when you do not expect they to come. They come when your are cooking together with your neighbors from all over the world; Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Eritrea and from the Jordan, Amsterdam. When you realize that all these countries have something like our pogácsa but we all have a little different ingredients and different words for it.
We have been living next to each other in the same neighborhood. And this samenleving – how the Dutch says – inspired me to take more concrete steps forward. That inspired me to use my profession and knowledge in this process and bring the European IRIS project to our integration project: to understand better how our intimate relationships play a role in integration, how intimacy works across cultures. And that inspired me to continue with gardening here. Gardening again. Something that I simply love to do.
We started to plant seeds in the few boxes we got from the Municipality…
And a year later we have a plan to build a real garden, a green island in the city: a Community garden for social integration. A garden which could be a safe place for integration, arrival. A space where people would heal their traumas of migration, can have a rest without being pressed to do anything particular. This garden would be a place for work, for learning, for art, for therapy, just for being. This would be a place without labels, without special aims, where people would keep their dignity and respect.