Changing the future together
For seven years, the Thuis Wageningen initiative – run by and for the people of Wageningen – has been bringing local residents together for social activities and work. From Dutch and international students to born-and-bred locals, they share knowledge and material goods and, most importantly, spend time together. Together they organise a range of activities including workshops, language café meetings, a book stall and a clothes exchange. The focus is on joining forces to tackle social issues, establishing ties between different worlds in the process. Thuis also initiates new cooperative activities between citizens, governmental bodies, knowledge institutions, businesses and social organisations.
Wageningen is a city of contrasts. Students of many different nationalities study at the university, and many residents have a practical education. Thuis founder Elsje van de Weg observes a growing rift between rich and poor and between practically and academically educated people. While these groups have much to offer one another, they seldom meet because they live in different worlds.
Wageningen, like every city, faces societal issues, including a polarising society, climate change and growing inequality. Often, these complex problems lack ready-made solutions and call for new partnerships and experimentation with new approaches. Everyone has a role to play in shaping the future: citizens, government, knowledge institutions, businesses and social organisations alike. However, cooperating with residents is often overlooked – and that’s where Thuis comes in.
Sharing is key
Thuis was founded on the principles of a sharing economy, to make as many people as possible feel welcome. Money plays an important role in our society and greatly influences our choices and opportunities. But at Thuis, instead of paying with money, you can spend time helping out with activities as a volunteer. Or you can pay with material goods by donating something needed at the centre. This approach makes Thuis Wageningen accessible to the broadest possible group of people and creates a shared sense of responsibility.