The important dynamic of difference

Ondegronds is an amsterdam based project by Julien Thomas and Manon Veldhuis. After they themselfes met on Tinder, they quickly talked about the value of

meeting people that normally aren't in each others social group.

They went on to do ondergronds, a project were younger people can arrange a meeting with

senior amsterdamers – on the metro.

We met them at b.amsterdam, and talked about what they experienced, what their

motivation was, and asked for some advice on how to do such a project.

When was the last time you had a real conversation with your grandma? Something more profound than – say, the weather? Thats what Manon gave as an answer to the question on why they felt the need to facilitate conversation between young and old. But for them it wasn’t just about that – it was really about the important dynamic of difference as Julien calls it. Bring people together that wouldn’t normally meet each other – people that are not in each others social group. „It even can be really hard to get to know your neighbour“.

„It even can be really hard to get to know your neighbour“

fund 002: teile des spielsystems aus dem lars seine objekte baut

But how did they do it? They reached out to senior residencys, emailed, whatsapped, met seniors who wanted to participate – that process took them MORE THAN A HALF YEAR but it was worth it. During the event the younger people got a letter which said go to the metro (x), to door number three and stay at the post. At the next station Manon waited with the seniors, and thats where they first met. It was akward at first, but they quickly engaged in a conversation. Afterwards they all met at the Volkshotel bar – and they all didn’t want it to end. „When one of the seniors told me „this is really important what you’re doing“ that was the most rewarding moment for me“

„hätte man im November 2015 nach Open Source Economy gegoogelt, hätte man eine Seite gefunden, die ich seit einigen Jahren betreibe – sucht man jetzt findet man sehr sehr viel im Netz“



Aim for what you want to do and talk about your project, in a sense as if you are gonna do it, and then it will happen! No ifs and maybes. You just have a goal and you're trying to reach it.


Take your time! It's too bad that we're trained to do projects on a semester basis, or maybe a year basis – but we're not talking a full year, we're talking about a school year. Our understanding about what it takes and what time it requires to do something is quite short. Be patient – put a year into it! And keep trying.


Things Change: we're told to take into consideration all the consequences of everything we do – have a budget, have a plan and a long term goal ... you can put together a plan that is really rocksolid, but there are so many things out there that can change that plan, that are out of your control. It's more important to develop relationships with people who can get your project going. There has to be trust in between you and them – that the project can change and it's not gonna be dropped. Because it WILL change.


Handling doubters: if you start a project where you do something thats never done before, you will have doubters. It can be a challenge because it will be very abstract. But most of the time that means it's a good thing, because it means that you're doing something that has never been done before. Sometimes you're even doubting it yourself – but you just have to keep pushing forward.

So you can see there is no step by step explanation on how to do it exactly, but you will figure it out eventually. Whats valuable to know though is, that julien and manon first pitched their project at boiling amsterdam an instant crowdfunding event, where city makers pitch their ideas­ and the winner walks away with cash accumulated through the attendands entrance fees.