Get to work whistling
the former ADM site
Hay Schoolmeesters is the personification of a free spirit. They are all free spirits, the board members of Vereniging de Verademing (all people assembled to preserve Het Groene Veld). There is no other way. They all come from the former ADM site on the Western Docklands, which for twenty years was the living and working place of a vibrant, close-knit community of artists, creatives, makers and freethinkers. In 2019, they were removed from the site - involuntarily and harshly. Part of the community started anew in Amsterdam North, on the former water treatment site, a previously uncanny place that was hidden from view by wild-growing nature and a permanently closed, large steel fence. The arrival of the former ADM members meant a remarkable change.
This change took shape when Vereniging de Verademing and the municipality entered into an agreement on February 1st 2022. This agreement gave de Verademing responsibility for the management, programming, technical maintenance and communication of the site, which by now was renamed Het Groene Veld. However, the agreement does have an expiration date. It now appears that the current residents and renters will have to leave house and hearth in October 2024. What happens next is still a topic of discussion. Where the current residents can go is a big question mark.
Free place for the neighborhood
De Verademing consists of Thekla Arenhs, Ymar de Groot, Brian Sating and the aforementioned Hay Schoolmeesters, the members of the ADM community together with the renters and users of Het Groene Veld, in total around 150 people. The Union keeps office in the Poortgebouw on Het Groene Veld. There, Hay tirelessly addresses all the challenges De Verademing faces. For now, the biggest challenge is the preservation of this unique free space and colorful frayed edge of Amsterdam. Saving Het Groene Veld is of vital importance for several reasons, as a sustainable place of residence for the current community and as a free place for the neighborhood, Northerners and all Amsterdammers.
The city of Amsterdam is unique because of its long tradition of counterculture. This culture is under enormous pressure. Every square meter needs to be fought (for). The coalition agreement that protects the few free places left in Amsterdam was also politically recognized in 2018 – a hopeful sign. Het Groene Veld became the first experiment of the Free Space Expedition project initiated by the municipality. A crucial test case that could make Het Groene Veld the ‘free space’ crown jewel of Amsterdam. If we really want this to work, we do need to have the balls to speak up. We need the voices of the residents, the renters and the neighbors of Het Groene Veld. And we need officials with balls too, who dare to defend free spaces against the current. No matter what.
“Great, man”, Hay grins, “I start every morning whistling".