Floor Ziegler and Teun Gautier
«We think that people are happy when they feel a sense of relevance, when they can make a difference and contribute their talents and capacity to their environment».
When did you start working with cities? What does fascinate you the most about working with cities today?
I started a project in Amsterdam in 2006, Noorderparkkamer, a pavillion in a local park that supported the development of the community and brought together is new and old inhabitants. From there we moved on to re-generate the local market and connect artists with locals. Amsterdam Noord was rapidly developing and it was crucial to bring the old and new Northers together around things they shared interest in. Cities are communities that depend in the level in which people have a sense of relevance, the level in which they can contribute. A community should not be larger than people can feel being a part of it. Then the smaller communities will be connected, a city is a community of communities.
This year Living cities forum's manifest is «To know. To be able to do. To act». What would be your advice for newcomers in city development, leaders and initiators of urban projects on how to move from "what I know and can do" to real actions?
City development is about doing, about taking your idea and run with it. It is about connecting people around a theme, a place and their intrinsic interests. Learning or developing ideas work best if you are actively creating something and theory and meetings and reports take away energy and dynamics from Citymakers. Citymaking is about connecting people based on their similar and deeply felt interests. We always identify a theme by talking to people in the community, in the street. We then learn who the key people, they are always there. Then we connect them with each other and the institutional world if need be. We also always try to get a physical space to make this all happen.

For newcomers, we would advise to first do one or two projects with experiences Citymakers, that is a great way to learn.
Trust, cooperation and communications are the core principles in any development, of a city, community or a company. In your experience, what are the main pitfalls in building trust, quality communications and cooperation in city development?

We have experienced that many participants in citymaking have a professional role and act from that role.
Project «Warme verbindingen in Revelsant»
In between those functional roles is a space: the intermediary space. We get people to meet each-other their, not from the formal role, but as human beings, collectively working on creating something.
Equality is very important in that space. We identify civil servants in the governments that are open and ready for this type of cooperation and connect them to Citymakers. A very important pitfall is that the institutional world has great problems with letting go, not because they don´t want to but because they feel a deep responsibility. For them it is important to learn to share that responsibilty.
How would you describe a living and happy city?
We think that people are happy when they feel a sense of relevance, when they can make a difference and contribute their talents and capacity to their environment.
Communities are limited in size because of they grow too large, people lose their connection and the community will become institutional.
People designing their own environment, in co-creation with others and governments, are happy people and can create magic and prosperity.
Thank you, Teun and Floor!
Floor Ziegler, founder of Floor Ziegler & Company, started her working life as a producer for classical music. When she moved to Amsterdam Noord, a poor, working class neighbourhood, she created a meeting place in the central park: Noorderparkkamer. After a difficult start she learned to not create a place for people, but with people. Identifying themes and issues, key people in communities and their means to contribute to their peers. The Noorderparkkamer was pivotal in the re-generation of the area which is now thriving. Floor moved on the become a leading citymaker in The Netherlands, involved in countless initiatives and newly generated local communities. She has recently introduced a cooperative for Citymakers and is an advisor to many minicipalities, developers, government, nationally and internationally.

Teun Gautier is a publisher by profession. He met with Floor as Chairman of the Board of Pakhuis de Zwijger, a leading Dutch bottom-up meeting place. After having introduced a cooperative media company with freelance journalist, he now teams with Floor to develop the Citymakin community and its role in driving a new way of creating and sustaining communities.