I am interested in combining the world of the academy with the world of practice. I believe that we must take a close look at the world of practice in order to learn about theory. I learn by following policy practitioners, police officers, welfare workers, neighbours, and politicians in their daily routines. These engagements have led to interesting cooperation with people in different fields. My aim is to bridge the gap between theory and practice, my work seeks to embody that bridge.
“WeesFietsKnippen in Amsterdam: a case study of citizen participation”
With the municipality of Amsterdam, Stadsdeel Centrum
(June 2013 – January 2014)
‘Where does citizen participation go wrong?’ is the question of this project. An ethnographic endeavour into a local conflict between ambitious civil servants, neighbours, and other city organizations around the age old question of ‘Bikes’ in Amsterdam. I developed an analyses that reveals the importance of critical moments for processes of citizen participation.
“The Informal City”
With RAAM, bureau for social architecture and Zebra Welzijn in The Hague
What goes on in the local hairdresser? How does the local garage owner educate his young employees? Who is that neighbour that picks up all the children after school? These and many other informal practices in the city are discovered and revealed in the ‘informal city’. We are interested in the tacit, informal practices that people develop in the midst of all the attention that is drawn to their “multi-problem” neighbourhood. We seek to unravel and make them visible in a living art project, a map of the informal city.
“Het Buurt Praktijk Team”
With the municipality of Amsterdam, Stadsdeel West
(June- August 2012)
This project was an effort to qualitatively evaluate a revolutionary approach to bring together different parties who deal with multi-problem families, youth criminality, school dropout, and neighbourhood decline in a neighbourhood in Western Amsterdam.
Out of my research I developed a variety of trainings that help governments, public organizations, and other institutions to build capacity for governance. In the past I trained local politicians and policy-makers on how to deal with conflict within their organization as well as with other parties. I trained welfare organizations to develop tools for reflection on their own practice. And I facilitated groups of citizens to become well cooperating bodies of influence in local decision-making.
I always develop ‘custom made’ training sessions that start out from the everyday practices and knowledge of clients. On the basis of case studies I develop role-play activities. During interactive training sessions these role-play activities help participants to reflect on their own practice, learn from everyday activities, analyse the problems at hand, and build capacity for dealing with conflict and tensions.
“Critical Moment Training”
I developed this training for municipalities and welfare organizations to develop skills for mediating processes of change and development.
Municipal governments are increasingly challenged to engage citizens in community building and take part in the facilitation of local welfare. These processes of development are inevitably conflictuous. Based on my PhD dissertation, I developed a training that helps professionals understand their role in local conflict through the reconstruction of critical moments. How can you understand the meaning of your actions in the process? What is important to other parties? When did the process escalate? During the training participants enact role-play through which they actively develop repertoires for using subjective knowledge in their skills to facilitate constructive processes of participation, change, or development. I have provided several urban governments with this training session.
“The vitality of Informality Training”
I developed this training for professionals who work for welfare organizations at the street-level.
There is more to a city or a community than the things that take place at the surface. People’s everyday lives unfold through everyday routines, networks, practices, and struggles. How could welfare professionals engage in what is already available at the street-level? And maybe even more important, how can welfare practitioners make sure they do not disrupt these informal capacities in their practice of support? Together with Tonie Boxman from Raam (bureau for social architecture) I developed a training series to discover the vitality of informality in the city. Welfare practitioners participate in active workshops that reflect on the vitality of informality in their own work, and the vitality of informality citizens bring to the table. In 2014 we discovered the ‘vitality of informality’ with Zebra Welzijn in The Hague.
“Adaptive Leadership Training”
I developed this training together with David Laws during our research project on Urban Conflicts at the University of Amsterdam. “Rethinking Maakbaarheid” is a training for policy practitioners and politicians who wish to work less authoritarian and more from a mediation perspective.
Current policy paradigms demand practitioners to work bottom-up and rethink government responsibility. Practitioners need to become ‘adaptive leaders’ who are able to negotiate with citizens, civil society, and social organizations. We developed role-play activities to learn by doing. Professionals rethink their own work as a case study, develop tools for reflection, and broaden their action repertoire as a adaptive leader by engaging in negotiation practices that are taken from everyday challenges in the modern city. During our research project we facilitated this training in Amsterdam, Utrecht, and The Hague. For future training sessions see the Public Mediation Program of the University of Amsterdam.
“Diversity Joy Training”
Diversity Joy, Amsterdam
I am a certified trainer at Diversity Joy. A Dutch organization that developed ‘alternative to violence training’ into a playful training program that crosscuts societal boundaries and connects participants to rethink identity, race relations, and prejudice. Via activities participants are given tools to peacefully work together and bridge social boundaries.