The day started with a nice friendly conversation at the train station to Utrecht. Seems like everyone wants to know what is wrong with Greece once they know I am from there. I don’t really have an answer. I know there is a lot wrong but there are also a lot of nice hard working people there, that are going through a really rough time. And I think it will work out in the end but the approach from all the sides has to change. But I am not here to talk about that am I?
The two locations we visited today were close to one another and we did a lot of back and forth. They also have a similar style of decoration (at least in my eyes) so I really felt I could have been at the same location. Since this is my personal view it might be a little inaccurate cause my mind is buzzing with information right now. Lets get the story started. Why don’t we take it from the top?
I met Beatriz at the Meeting Plaza at Utrecht Central Station. This place started out as a meeting space, but then something important happened. People were meeting at the lunch table and making connections. So that was the moment the owners and future founders of seats2meet realized this is a thing of value and social capital was being created. Now it is a seats2meet location. The location itself was meeting my imagination of a modern innovative european workplace. Nice colorful walls and a subtle carpet to go along with wooden and plastic tables and chairs.
After getting a feel for the place we went to the main seats2meet location in Utrecht to meet Marina who was already being busy taking pictures for the seats2meet instagram account. This place was really crowded and it was something that gave me a positive vibe. I felt like “this is working”. After the struggles I have witnessed of creating that kind of a community back in Greece it gave me hope and determination to continue. Or maybe restart would be a better word for me since I have been absent for the last months.
We then had lunch with some of the seats2meet staff. Really nice people. Friendly, open, showing genuine interest in you and always up for a nice meaningful chat. At the table we agreed to shoot a vlog with Kevin Schenkers.
After lunch Beatriz showed me the way to the Seats2Meet International Headquarters where I met Pieter Vermeer. We talked about his experience of helping unemployed people find jobs, something that Greece could use at this point. Of course it isn’t as easy as it sounds because there are no jobs in Greece right now. But this doesn’t mean people should sit on their couches and wait for things to change.
I believe we have to change in order to change the things around us. So Pieter basically helps unemployed people organize voluntarily around 500 events per year that help them better their chances to find a job through workshops on professional feats like having a better linkedin page and more. If the volunteers find a job, they have to quit their peers and go work on their job like true professionals. This peer to peer initiatives are happening in Greece too with actions like Job Pairs or 100mentors. It is also something Stone Soup is trying to accomplish, getting young talented people with no experience a good job based on skills and not work experience.
After a quick chat with the staff I went back downstairs to the co-working space to meet co-owner Nynke Visser to take a tour through the place. 19 meeting rooms, all different? It is impressive to me, and you are certainly finding one that suits your needs and preferences. I personally liked “the living”, a room that contains all the books that make up the vision of Seats2meet.
We met up with Kevin at the big conference room to shoot the vlog I mentioned earlier. I was nervous because I am not used to talking in front of a camera, even if it is a phone camera. But in the end it worked out and Kevin is editing right now. In the vlog session we talked about the stuff that happens in Greece, what has impressed me the most in my brief stay, whats the thing I’m taking back home, what Kevin’s view on media versus text is, the Permanent Future Lab, and general conversation about technology social capital and innovation. I don’t know what footage is usable so you have to check it out. It will be around soon i guess.
After that the day was over and I returned to my base in Amsterdam. I definitely want to return to Utrecht and work with the seats2meet staff. Trying to caption the day, “New places, new faces, all good!”