If you ever have the joy of spending time in Amsterdam you may find yourself in a neighborhood where all the buildings have been Graffitied. Chances are you walked to Tabak Row, a counter culture center where the squatters movement in Amsterdam began. As a frequent visitor to Amsterdam I try to make it a point to walk the neighborhood and photograph the newest Graffiti. What few tour guides tell you is this was also a starting point for the Cannabis culture. It was here in the Tabac Row that Dutch activism coupled with personal freedom helped start today’s Cannabis culture. Disenfranchised Baby boomers settled here during the 1960’s and 70’s in vacant buildings where they squatted out of necessity due to inadequate housing inventory within Amsterdam. At the time Amsterdam was filled with unused and vacant buildings and these first squatters began what today has become a revolution in the Netherlands which continues to spawn art and culture to the city of Amsterdam to this day.
Images like the “Snake House” a squatters building since the 80’s, bring a sense of wonderment and nostalgia to some Dutch people while others who remember the time think of the tanks that were once deployed to stop the squatting. Whatever side of the fence you fall in one things for sure, the graffiti is amazing and it’s everywhere. For those of us who have never experienced homelessness or hunger look to the model of Amsterdam where the culture of squatting has been turned to art, creativity and urban revitalization. We could all learn a thing or two from the attitude of the Dutch towards their people, it’s apparent when you met them, the Dutch are happy 🙂