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Green Educators: A Chat with Sameena Safiruddin

By Tess Holmgren

Starting Friday 3rd May, the Green Living Lab will already be hosting its fourth Green Student Bootcamp Challenge. This year students in the Netherlands are invited to go on a tour of the Netherlands to learn about healthy urban living and a series of workshops will take place in Amsterdam, Groningen, Utrecht, Delft, and Rotterdam.

Starting from the ground up, this year’s first Bootcamp session is all about ‘Seeds and Soil’ and it will take place at the Tolhuistuin in Amsterdam on Friday 3rd May. Students will learn about the importance of biodiversity in the soil for life on earth and will roll up their sleeves to build their own DIY worm hotel home composting system, learn how to grow healthy plants at home for food and sow seeds. Commonland will also be there to talk about restorative solutions for environmental degradation.

I caught up with GLL workshop leader Sameena Safiruddin who will co-lead a workshop on seeds and how to grow healthy plants at home, in order to ask about her inspiration for healthy urban living.

Please tell us about your work.
I am a permaculture designer, I lead foraging workshops and gardening tours, teach school children how to grow plants and I am a willow weaver. I work with diverse community garden projects and nature education projects. Amongst other things I’ve helped set up community garden projects in the east of Amsterdam, including a public garden and a community arts and cultural space for people in the neighbourhood. For me it’s mostly about the nature connection. It’s not so much growing plants as getting in touch with nature: learning how things grow, learning the importance of insects, and so on. My work is, for me, about bringing nature back into the city and into people’s lives, and bringing back that connection to the natural world.

Without revealing too much about what’s in store, could you tell us what we can expect from your participation in this year’s Green Student Bootcamp Challenge?
Those joining can expect to get their hands dirty. I think this is important because many don’t do this anymore, too many people spend most of their days sitting behind a computer. So this workshop will be a fun chance for people to use their senses and interact with their environment differently.

What do you hope participating students will take away from the experience?
I hope to inspire students to be more conscious and aware of the nature or the lack of nature around them. I want them to feel both connected and aware of nature. I also hope they feel like they have agency- that they can actively participate in their communities and feel like they have the ability to influence change.

How do you see our relationship with nature and with our environment?
I feel humankind has separated themselves from nature quite a bit. Especially considering we were hunter gatherers at first- foraging for food and intimately connected with the cycles of life. Then with the agricultural revolution we were distanced from the land, and then with industrialisation even more so. For instance now we look at our clocks, not at the sun and the stars. We are no longer as involved with the natural world, instead it has been separated and put in a sterilised environment: our food is mostly wrapped in plastic at the supermarket. Of course this is not true for all people and in many ways I think the awareness of the environment is coming back. But generally this is how I feel our relationship with the environment has evolved.

Has your work changed the way you lead your life? If so, how?
I feel my intuition has led me to all the work I am involved with. At first my goal was to work for an ethical organisation and so I really made a conscious decision to let my ethics and morals guide me. I would ask myself in the face of the work I was doing or in looking for a new job whether this is something that is good for me and good for the earth. I let this act as a filter and, honestly, since I started doing this and dedicating myself to what I love people have started finding me as opposed to the other way around. Because of this there hasn’t been a need to proactively look for new projects to do. I have always had a connection and love for nature, when I was little I had one tree I used to play in. I am still trying to figure out if there was a moment that caused this connection – perhaps it was at school when my teacher, Mr Woods, spoke about the Amazon and he told me about the areas of trees being cut that were the size of football fields. This really moved me and I don’t know if it was him who planted the seed but this for me isn’t a definitive moment, I think my love for the natural world is something that has grown inside me slowly over time and which I’ve let guide my life.

What does healthy urban living mean to you?
I think it’s important to think holistically- from caring for the soil to voting and taking political action. For me healthy urban living also means living as consciously in natural cycles as we can. By this I mean to cause as little disturbance as possible to the water cycle, the carbon cycle, the waste cycle and so on. Biking for instance is a good example because you are not producing waste. Also eating healthy, local, organic food and then composting it so it goes back to the earth. Or being conscious about the waste cycle you are producing personally by the things you buy – to be mindful of buying less, only the things you need and quality products or using rainwater to water the garden. This also involves visiting green areas and to keep creating them. I think we have the ability and responsibility to actively create more biodiversity in the city which is so good for the mind body and soul. We can actually do so much more of this in the city already, and I personally try to do as much of this as I can.

Programme: Green Student Bootcamp Challenge 2019 Netherlands Tour

Students from all universities and colleges are welcome to join, from any study course. See how you can participate & book your space below.

*Friday 3 May, Tolhuistuin, Amsterdam, 14.00 – 17.30

‘Where Life Begins: Soil & Seeds’, with the Green Living Lab & Commonland

Lecture:  Commonland tell us how restorative solutions can reverse the degradation of the land and water systems that are the basis of life on earth, and bring back prosperity to both people and planet.

Green Living Lab Workshops: 

Composting – build healthy soil while making profit from waste. We’ll show you how to turn your kitchen waste into rich compost with a worm hotel.

Sowing Seeds – a guide to growing healthy plants at home.

*Friday 10 May, University of Groningen, 14.00 – 17.30

‘Gifts from Nature: Inspiration & Wellbeing’ with Green Office Groningen & Guests

Tour: A meeting with product designer Tjeerd Veenhoven at his studio to hear how he is inspired by the natural world to develop sustainable products including Palmleather, a plant-based replacement for animal leather, plastic and rubber, and AlgaeFabric, a raw textile material made from algae.

Interactive Lecture: “Links between pro-environmental behaviours and wellbeing” by Steph Johnson-ZawadskiEnvironmental Psychology PhD, University of Groningen.

Green Living Lab Workshop:

Seed Balls – cheering up grey urban environments for people and pollinators with seed balls full of native herbs and flowers.

*20 spaces exclusively available for University of Groningen students for €5,00 per student.*

To register as a University of Groningen student, please contact Green Office Groningen: greenoffice@rug.nl 

All other students, please contact: gsbc@greenlivinglab.org

 *Friday 17 May, Utrecht University14.00 – 17.30

‘Interconnectivity in Nature: Forests & Mycelium,’ with Green Office Utrecht & Guests

Workshop: Forests, with IVN & the Tiny Forest initiative. Exploring the role of urban forests for a healthy city,  and learning how a Tiny Forest can be realised on campus or in the neighbourhood.

Workshop: Mycelium & Mushrooms, with Fungi Factory. We’ll hear about the magical world of mycelium, how Fungi Factory’s circular enterprise utilises mycelium to turn waste into profit, and we’ll be challenged to grow oyster mushrooms at home with a Fungi Factory grow-kit.

*20 spaces exclusively available for Utrecht University students for €9,50 per student.* 

To register as a Utrecht University student, please contact Green Office Utrecht: greenoffice@uu.nl before Thursday 16 May.          

All other students, please contactgsbc@greenlivinglab.org

*Friday 24 May, Amsterdam West, 14.00 – 17.30 

From Farm to Table: CSAs & Cooking Workshop in Nature, with De Stadsgroenteboer CSA & UvA Green Office
We visit this newly established CSA to hear about the role of CSAs in producing healthy food for urban populations. De Stadsgroenteboer team met while studying gastronomy in Italy and they will share their love of tasty fresh produce with us from farm to table, as students are invited to get their hands in the soil to harvest and then cook together.

Cooking Workshop: Expect to get your hands in the soil and to cook with fresh veggies from the garden.

20 spaces exclusively available for University of Amsterdam students for €15,50 per student.*

To register, please contactgsbc@greenlivinglab.org before Friday 17 May.

*Friday 31 May, Rotterdam, 14.00 – 17.30 

‘Creating Cities for Healthier Futures,’ with Hannah Wright & Jorn Wemmenhove, Humankind

City Tour: Exploring how our urban surroundings influence our well-being, with urban planner Hannah Wright and tactical urbanist Jorn Wemmenhove, Humankind.

Includes a visit to the largest and loveliest productive roof-garden in Europe, De DakAkker.

20 spaces exclusively available for Erasmus University Rotterdam students for €5 per student.*

To register, please contactgsbc@greenlivinglab.org before Monday 27 May.

 *Friday 7 June, TU Delft14.00 – 17.30

‘Nature-inspired Innovation,’ with Green Office Delft & Guests

Workshop: Biomimicry Nederland invites us to look to nature for sustainable solutions, and tells us how nature’s design genius is inspiring innovation for a healthy world.

Lecture: Dr. Ingrid de Pauw teaches at the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering TU Delft, and will tell us about her research into nature-inspired design, as well as its applications.

Interactive Lecture: Dr. Bertus Beaumont, teaches BioLogic at the Department of Bionanoscience TU Delft, and will tell us about the course’s focus on how biological principles can be applied to achieve green technological solutions.

We will meet BioLogic students, and hear from them about their entry for the Biodesign Challenge, a global challenge for university students to envision future applications of biotechnology.

*20 spaces exclusively available for TU Delft students for €5,00 per student.*

To register as a TU Delft student, please contact Green Office TU Delft:  info@greenofficedelft.nl before Monday 3 June

All other students, please contact: gsbc@greenlivinglab.org

*Friday 14 June, Amsterdamse Bos, Amsterdam, 14.00 – 21.00

Trees & Us: Trees & People in a Healthy City.

A tree expert will tell us about the role of trees and urban forests in creating a healthy city. We’ll also go on a bird safari and explore what edible delights the forest has to gift us.

To attend, please contact: gsbc@greenlivinglab.org before Monday 10 June. 

*****

Ways to Participate & Costs

All participants required to be students  & advance payment required.

1) Full Programme (8 sessions):

€85 per student, including workshop materials. Apply before 29 April: gsbc@greenlivinglab.org

2) Individual Sessions:

€17,50 per session. Please book here:  gsbc@greenlivinglab.org

3) University of Groningen, Utrecht University, Erasmus University Rotterdam, TU Delft & University of Amsterdam Students:

We have reserved 20 spaces at a discounted rate for local students at sessions taking place at the University of Groningen, Utrecht University, Rotterdam, TU Delft & in Amsterdam.

Please contact us for information on how to book your space with discount: gsbc@greenivinglab.org

An Inspirational Green Tour of the Netherlands!

Netherlands Tour 2019

This year’s Green Student Bootcamp Challenge is going nationwide, as participants set off on an inspirational tour of the Netherlands in May and June.

This is the 4th year of our experiential learning programme for higher education students in the Netherlands. We are both delighted and proud that our graduates from previous years are helping to organise this year’s programme and will lead some of our workshops!

On Friday afternoons, 14.00 – 17.30, in May and June, sessions will take place at diverse locations in the Netherlands in partnership with educational organisations, experts, entrepreneurs and innovators all working to create solutions for a healthier and greener world.

Inspiration from Nature

The Bootcamp Challenge brings students from diverse universities in the Netherlands together for one semester to learn how to make healthy lifestyle choices in balance with the natural world. Our immersive green learning experience takes a holistic approach to student health and wellbeing, as students are encouraged to relax in nature, feel connected to the natural world by acquiring both knowledge and experience, and reignite the joy and wonder of the natural world that we all shared when children.

A Rich Learning Experience

Just as in nature, we see that increased diversity in the group of participants leads to a richer learning experience for the group as a whole. We invite students from all study backgrounds to take part, and no prior knowledge of the course content required. Students learn from experts, entrepreneurs and each other as debate and sharing knowledge and experience is actively encouraged throughout.

Applied Learning 

We introduce students to diverse themes with a focus on exploring the links between our health and wellbeing, with that of our environment and our world. Students are given weekly challenges to be completed at home or as a group, and based on knowledge from previous sessions. In this way, students are asked to apply knowledge in a practical sense immediately. Students share their learning experiences in an online forum, so they also can learn directly from each other.

Partners 2019

This year sessions will take place in Groningen, Delft, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and Amsterdam, where we will welcome new partners and meet some amazing partners from previous programmes. We’ll learn about the interconnectivity in nature from IVN ,  Tiny Forest and Fungi Factory, hear from De Stadsgroenteboer about the role of CSAs in urban food production and how to cook healthy plant-based meals, learn of innovative solutions inspired by nature from Biomimicry Nederland and TU Delft, about trees and their role in a healthy city from City of Amsterdam ecologists, and visualise the healthy city of the future with tactical urban planning experts Hannah Wright and Humankind.  Other partners include Green Office Groningen, Green Office Utrecht, Green Office Delft, De DakAkker, Studio Tjeerd van Veenhoven, Commonland, and Duurzame Student.

A big thank you to LemonAid and ChariTea for sponsoring the programme!

Monday 29 April

There are have limited spaces available, and a short application is required. Applications are to be received by Monday 29 April. To request an application, please email us: gsbc@greenlivinglab.org

Joy in Senegal as the Garden Grows!

Let’s Restore our Earth! Ecosystem Restoration Camps @ The Green Living Lab

It was a pleasure to host Ecosystem Restoration Camps members at The Green Living Lab yesterday!

We heard from John Dennis Liu, Pieter Van Der Gaag, & Rik Armando Ridder from the Ecosystem Restoration Camps team why we need to come together now to use our collective resources & talents to restore degraded ecosystems for the survival of future generations. We know how to restore our world, so let’s do it! There is no more time to waste to ensure our children’s future & the survival of our species. The stakes cannot be any higher. Nature will be OK, however, humans are threatening their own extinction by destroying the only home they have to live in.

Luckily, we have the knowledge & skills to change this for the benefit of future generations, but we have to act now.

If you would like to act to make a greener, healthier & more sustainable world a reality, become a member of Ecosystem Restoration Camps today. Every individual contribution counts.

For information on how to become a member, please contact: pieter@ecosystemrestorationcamps.org & check out the website here: https://www.ecosystemrestorationcamps.org/

John Liu will return to The Green Living Lab on Wednesday 11 July, from 19.00 – 21.00, to discuss the value of living systems vs non-living systems.

Please see this link for information on John’s work to restore ecosystems worldwide, & the event:

https://www.facebook.com/events/395739337500840/

We have just 5 more places available for this event. To book your place, please send your full name by email: info@greenlivinglab.org

We look forward to seeing you there! ?

 

Wormenhotel Workshop bij het Green Love festival, zaterdag 23 juni, 15.00 – 15.45 uur! ?

Wormhotel Workshop GSBC 2018
Please see English below.
 
Composteren in de stad is gelukkig niet moeilijk! Rowin zal je leren hoe je makkelijk je eigen #wormenhotel kunt bouwen en je alles vertellen over hoe simpel je zelf gft-afval kan verwerken tot rijke #vermicompost. Kom onze kronkelende compostwormen vergezellen en verras je huisgenoten door deze fascinerende wezens een uniek plekje thuis te geven! 

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Reservatie vereist: Plaatsen moeten op voorhand geboekt worden via email: info@greenlivinglab.org
Taal: Nederlands & Engels
 
Workshops en activiteiten bij het Green Love festival zijn gratis met een WeMakethe.City festivalpas, anders op donatie basis. Koop je festival pas hier:
 
 
Voor het volledige programma zie: https://www.facebook.com/events/202557530556904/
 
**Reserveer je plaats voor activiteiten na 18.00 uur per mail: info@greenlivinglab.org
 
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Worm Hotel Workshop at The Green Love festival, Saturday 23 June, 15.00 – 15.45.
 
Luckily composting in the city is not difficult! Rowin will tell you how easy it is to build your own worm hotel and will tell you how you can process your organic waste into rich worm #compost. Come meet our wriggly compost worms and surprise your housemates by giving these fascinating creatures a place in your home!

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Reservation required: Places to be booked in advance by email: info@greenlivinglab.org
Language: Dutch and English
 
Workshops and activities at the Green Love festival are free with a WeMakethe.City festival pass, otherwise on a donation basis. Buy your festival pass here:
 
 
For info on the full programme, see: https://www.facebook.com/events/202557530556904/
 
**Reserve your place for activities after 18.00 by email: info@greenlivinglab.org

Why We Like Swapping Better Than Shopping

On Sunday the 3rd of December we’re hosting the third Green Fashion Fair at the Green Living Lab. If you’ve been at the previous ones, you’ll know how fun it is to find that an old sweater from someone’s grandpa is actually a perfect addition to your hipster look, or that someone is happily taking home your bad buys. But the reason we started Clothes Swaps at the Green Living Lab has more to it. Time to share the story of how we got inspired to contribute to the fashion revolution.

Each year in April on social media, thousands of people showed their labels and asked the brands #whomademyclothes. Farmers, producers, and factory workers responded with pictures of their working process, proudly holding the #imadeyourclothes-sign. Each year this Fashion Revolution Week sparks up many conversations about  human rights and the environmental aspects of the fashion industry.

This ‘Fashion Revolution‘, as the organisation is called, was born on April 24, 2013. This was the day that the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed. 1,138 people died and another 2,500 were injured, making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history. This tragedy was only part of a growing dissatisfaction about the treatment of the people and the planet in all layers of the clothing industry. But the tremendous anger and despair of Rana Plaza set the true revolution on fire and people all over the world joined forces to demand change.

Now, slowly the world is starting to realise that, however complicated the issue is, something’s off with the way we produce, sell, and buy our clothes. Simply put, change is necessary for:

1. The People. Human rights are being abused in the garment industry. Minimum wage is rarely enough to live off. Workers are being mistreated for demanding better conditions. Buildings have often collapsed or caught fire.

2. The Planet. To grow, dye, launder and treat our clothes, we use chemicals that end up polluting rivers. Also, a huge amount of water is used to produce clothing by growing cotton and wet processing, such as dyeing and laundering. Not only the clothes we produce, also the enormous amounts of clothes we throw away pollute the environment. Charities cannot keep up with all the donated clothes and only a small part of it is being resold in developing countries. All the others end up in landfills, releasing toxic chemicals into the air, water, and soil.

3. The Mindset. Fashion used to have four seasons, each bringing in new lines. Now, fashion has 52 seasons, and 150 billion items of clothing are delivered out of factories annually. Fashion is fast, cheap, and we like it. As we buy more and more of them, we lose our love for the quality of clothes and all the people and resources that brought them to us. Appreciation of our clothes is the first step towards a more humane and fair situation.

Without depressing you any further, I’ll refer those interested in the full story to the documentary The True Cost (to be found on Netflix & beyond). Honestly, I watch a lot of documentaries, but this is one of the two that have changed the way I think (the other is Cowspiracy, which made me go vegan in a day).

Now, on to the action! What can we do?15128819_1635957166704015_2505552897505938247_o

1. Swap! Knock yourself out at the Green Fashion Fair on Sunday or at the ones to come (keep an eye on our Facebook page for the next event). Will all this swapping have any effect? Yes! The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that, in terms of carbon emissions, the amount of textiles recycled each year is equivalent to taking one million cars off the road.

2. Shop – Be a critical consumer. Every time we buy clothes that cost less than we think it should, we are implicitly imposing the cost on someone or something else. Avoid bad buys. Myself, I’m lucky to have very stylish sisters who’ve been my personal shoppers since I can remember. But I’m sure you have some friends to ask for advice as well.

Screenshot

3. Join the Fashion Revolution! See what you can do on the Fashion Revolution website. Ask your brands #whomademyclothes and mingle in the conversation on social media.

Have you ever wondered who made your clothes? Let us know what you think about the issue, and see you at the swap!

Smells like Team Spirit! Fantastic Team Building Day with Gemeente Velsen

We loved hosting Gemeente Velsen’s Urban Development team at the Green Living Lab for a team building day!

Not knowing what to expect on arrival at this little piece of green in the middle of the Zuidas, the team from Velsen soon made themselves at home in the dome, rolled up their sleeves & got started with activities led by the Green Living Lab team.

First, Green Living Lab project manager Aveen Colgan led the group in making colourful pots of zuurkool using produce from the GLL garden. Our co-ordinator Roos van der Deijl then led the group on a tour of the GLL, explaining the story behind our project & the multiple functions of each element of our facilities. Afterwards the group were introduced to their new worm pets by Rowin Snijder from the GLL team, who designs & builds beautiful worm hotels as Le Compostier, which make community composting in the city possible. Rowin explained that vermicomposting with worm hotels provide a solution for turning organic urban waste into valuable compost in a fast, odourless & fun way. The group then made their own worm hotels to bring home & start composting.

The afternoon was brought to a close with drinks & vegetarian snacks in the dome, served by GLL facilities co-ordinator Lea Grosse (who is also a whizz in the kitchen!) It was a joy to see all of the Gemeente Velsen team having fun being creative & working together!

The Green Living Lab offers diverse seasonal workshops that involve working together & are always lots of fun! We also design our team building experiences according to the specific interests of the group.

If you would like to organise a team building day with your colleagues at the Green Living Lab in 2017 we’d love to hear from you here: info@greenlivinglab.org

Week 3, The Community Compost School, The Amsterdam Urban Compost Bike Tour

During last week’ s Community Compost School Le Compostier took us on a tour of community composting projects in neighbourhoods and to innovative urban farms in the city.

During the first stop we heard from community composting pioneer Christien how she took the initiative to bring a worm hotel to her street in the Pijp neighbourhood. She told us how composting on the street with her neighbours is both easy and fun.

Next stop, the beautiful green oasis in Amsterdam Oost, Oost Indisch Groen, where volunteers Elco & Sameena showed us how they compost there.

After a cup of tea (thanks Sameena!) we were off to visit the community garden at Zeeburgereiland, where they have a worm hotel for composting used by over that holds 1400 litres of organic waste, making a lot of compost to grow food there.

Wouter Hassing then welcomed us to his urban farm Mycophilia located in Amsterdam Noord, where we saw his state of the art mushroom farm. We also got to check out his biomeiler which provides heat for the containers the mushrooms are grown in.

StadsOogst, a new urban farming cooperative in Amsterdam, are currently making Amsterdam’s first locally produced (& vegan!) garden soil using the substrate of Wouter’s mushroom production.

Last stop of the day, the urban faming complex Noordoogst, home to Metabolic, Beelease, STROOP & the unique No Chateau – Amsterdamse stadswijngaard city vineyard.

Thank you to all of the bikers who rode along & a special thanks to Le Compostier for organising such a special afternoon!

#communitycompostschool #urbancompost #greenlivinglab #stadsoogst

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