Co-creating a greener and healthier neighbourhood

Judith Veenkamp

On January 22nd we held a first co-creation session with the elderly in Buitenveldert. The session was the start of a series of four meetings in which we, together with residents of Buitenveldert, look for practical solutions to create a greener and healthier neighbourhood and at the same time design a game that stimulates the personal mobility and active lifestyle of the elderly.

The elderly in Buitenveldert
Buitenveldert is heavily aged, more than a quarter of the residents is older than 65 years. The proportion of 'older people' aged over 80 is also large (10% in Buitenveldert-West and 13% in Buitenveldert-Oost versus 3% on average in Amsterdam). Just a few details from the 'area analysis' made by the municipality of Amsterdam.

Health and mobility are important themes with so many elderly in the neighbourhood. That mobility is high on the agenda is also apparent from a recent research report. 'Being mobile' means for older outsiders that they can maintain social contacts and continue to participate in society, despite growing vulnerability and dependence. As stated in the research report: "No activity without mobility".

Vital and mobile participants
During the meeting it turned out that the elderly people present were incredibly vital. During the morning we jointly constructed an image of the neighbourhood and its inhabitants. This shows that a lot is being done. From pilates and volunteer work to long trips and a lot of walking. It also became clear that the elderly are still very mobile and active. Most people walk and cycle the distances within the neighbourhood. When the distance is too far, some people even use greenwheels (a car-hire service) or share their cars occasionally.

Nevertheless, a number of participants also indicated that every week it looked a bit the same and during the meeting it became clear that the need for socializing and social contact was very important. During the session it was noticed several times that there was such a nice click between the participants and that they had not met before. We also created a value ladder during one of the activities in which participants indicated what they considered important within the neighbourhood. 'Sociability' stood firmly at the top, followed by preserving the green and improving public transport.

All in all a constructive meeting in which we took the first step in the project. The next meetings will take place on Monday, January 29, February 5 and February 12. 'Buitenveldert - Spaar de Buurt' is one of the local pilots of the European project MUV (Mobility Urban Values).

About the author

  • Judith Veenkamp works as concept and project developer at the Future Internet Lab and Smart Citizens Lab of Waag.