Utopia | Justine's blog


Silence us in Paris, we shout elsewhere : Amsterdam’s climate march

Posted by in Initiatives, Posts in English

Over 7000 took the streets in Amsterdam today, demanding that world leaders take swift action on climate change. In spite of the rain, the demonstration attracted a decent crowd, while Paris marches were canceled and rebel protesters teargassed and arrested. Many buses were planned to take protesters to Paris for this Sunday’s climate march. Since September, all big Dutch leftwing and ecologist organizations were gearing up and gathering their supporters for what hoped to be the biggest climate march in history. Following the cancelation of the Paris marches by the French authorities, many protesters turned…read more


A thousand people watching a climate documentary on a coal plant: This Changes Everything

Posted by in Posts in English

Last Saturday, a thousand people and myself sat on a field accross Amsterdam’s infamous Nuon coal power plant and watched a premiere of This Changes Everything, a documentary inspired by Naomi Klein’s latest book. We don’t know yet if it changed anything, but it for sure was a very impressive feat, to be credited to the organizers, Greenpeace NL, Fossil Free NL and Milieudefensie. The Facebook event to the screening, scoring 1700 attendees and up to 5800 invitees, had triggered my expectations. As I walked onto the field and looked at the mob, then up…read more

Artists revive community centers in Amsterdam West

Posted by in Initiatives, Posts in English

At a time when budget cuts in Welfare and closing facilities are common stories in the Netherlands, artists and residents celebrate the reopening of their community room in a modest Amsterdam neighborhood. The Bookstore, a collective of artists with a social aim set in Bos en Lommer, opened four community centers and workshops in the past three years. By the formerly closed center, now called “little workshop”, children learn to build karts and kites themselves through free activity afternoons. Can artists bring new life into the neighborhood ? Neighborhood children learning…read more

Christmas traditions and colonial heritage – Zwarte Piet

Posted by in Posts in English, Reflections

Many Western nations pride themselves with cheesy Christmas traditions. But the Dutch ones are particularly intriguing to the outsider, with the noticeable presence of a strange little helper to Sinterklaas –the Nordic Father Christmas equivalent- : Zwarte Piet, or Black Pete. Over the past few years, the character of Zwarte Piet has stirred outrage from groups of citizens pointing at its racist nature. The national debate has drawn attention from several English-speaking media, including the BBC  and Al Jazeera (see below).                                    Every year…read more