Interview with Ivo Schmetz: Go Green at OT301
You have been working with OT301 since its formation 13 years ago. How has the space affected the arts and culture community here in Amsterdam?
It’s hard to measure what effect one place has on an entire city, but what I do know is that we attract a wide variety of visitors every week with all our public events. OT301 is a venue for concerts, workshops, exhibitions, vegan food, dance performances and more.
We always try to present something fresh, exciting, low budget and edgy to the community. Lots of people know our building because of the events we do (cinema, concerts, art, electronic music, etc...) but we are a lot more than that. We are a group of people who share ideas and still want to offer alternatives for people in Amsterdam.
Since your last interview with us, how has OT301 continued to evolve with the more recent bans and complications for squatters?
We have started a series of public discussions titled "No Culture Without Subculture" where we discuss current policies and new opportunities. We can either sit back and be nostalgic or we can be creative and think of new ideas.
Of course, we don't need a new building but we want to support others who do need a space. We want to provide a stage for alternative events and organisers but we also aim to develop our own organisation all the time. We bought the building a few years ago so that requires different structures then when we were squatters.
The goal is to stay close to our initial ideas and ideals but also be aware of what is happening around us. Politics change, economics change, culture changes and we need to stay on top and make sure that what we do is relevant.
What inspired you, and the organisers at OT301 to start the Go Green project?
One of our members Dusan Rodic is an artist who works with themes like sustainability and self sufficiency. He came to us with the idea when he started cooperating with the Dakdokters, an innovative group who promotes and creates livable city roofs. At the same time, we heard that the city was supporting organisations who wanted to invest in green roofs. We applied and half of our investment was funded by them! They doubled our innitial investment of 10.000 euros!
Can you describe the process of creating the Go Green roof? Have there been any unexpected setbacks in the construction?
It’s not a very complicated project. Once we knew the roof was strong enough to carry the weight we began the building process and choose which plants to use. We selected plants that can survive in both summer and winter, hopefully they will start growing and flowering this spring!
The construction is also simple, with a few layers on the roof as a space in between for the rain water to get to our pipes. Then, on top there’s dirt and the matts of plants. We have to keep an eye on it just to make sure everything is supported well and doesn't start moving or leaking. So far, we haven’t had any majoy problems!
Expected future view of OT301 Go Green roof
How do you believe this project will affect the community?
Cities are becoming fuller and more dirty, so it is important think about the future. A green roof is not only nice to look at but also great insolation to keep heat within our building. We also like the fact that beside art, we can also produce oxygen for the city and its people!
In the near future, we hope to continue the project by planting vegetable gardens on our balconies and of course, for that we need to generate some new money. It would be great to serve our own vegetables in our vegan culture kitchen and it would be a very nice project to involve some neighbours too. We want to set a good example because we think it's important to do a project like this!
What can others do to support the Go Green initiative?
We are actually still trying to make some money back from the investment of the roof. People can support us by buying a symbolic square meter of our green roof! Donations can easily be made online at the OT301 Go Green website.
When do you expect the Go Green roof to be completed? Will there be an event to celebrate the kick off?
The roof was recently installed just before winter. We will organise an open day for people who are interested but a specific date hasn’t been decided.
What do you expect for the future of the Go Green roof, are there any new plans for expansion?
The entire roof has already been made into a green roof, so space is limited. We hope to continue the project onto our balconies next year with small vegetable gardens to grow our own food and herbs. Projects like this not only have a positive effect on the community but also offer a chance for others to get involved!