A Commune Floats in Amsterdam

Schoonschip is located in a postindustrial area largely abandoned by manufacturers | photo from the Washington Post | post by Larry Clinton

Seeking a more sustainable lifestyle, a Dutch reality TV director discovered an empty river basin in the Buiksloterham neighborhood of Amsterdam and decided to establish a commune for herself and a few select friends. Thanks to Joe Novitski of East Pier for sending along a Washington Post report on the emergence of Schoonschip, home to about 46 households located on 30 arks. The name means “clean ship.”

To “do schoonschip” means starting over from scratch, which is exactly what Marjan De Blok did. She asked friends if they had interest in building a floating community and was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response.

Those who agreed to building a floating home in the community committed to construct, insulate and finish their homes with eco–friendly materials such as straw, burlap and bamboo. They also informally signed up for eating together, swimming together and conducting their lives largely in common view of one another, with curtains only rarely drawn. They share bikes and cars and use WhatsApp to request almost any service or borrow items from neighbors. Every Tuesday, many order vegan meals prepared by a resident chef, which they often share in each other’s homes.

The Washington Post concludes: “the neighborhood feels like an extended block party mostly because many of the residents are actually de Blok’s friends, or friends of friends, including many colleagues from the TV and entertainment industry.”