On our quest for good practices to share with you, we travelled all the way up north – well that makes Holland sound much bigger than it really is ;) - and visited the city of Groningen today. What’s in Groningen I hear you thinking…
MIESlab is. MIES stands for Cooperation for Innovation of Economy and Society. They crowd funded (!!!) the first basic incomes in the Netherlands of €1000,- per month for two precarious workers. MIES is now actively spreading the results to promote more serious investigation into the possibility of implementing the basic income in the Netherlands. Since the unconditional basic income plays an important role in Commonfare, we had to find out more about their experiment.
But first things first…
We found out about this experiment through an organisation in The Hague called Delen Achter de Duinen. They had invited Anne van Dalen, an artist and one of the lucky recipients of the basic income chosen by a lottery, to give a presentation. When we asked her how the basic income had impacted her career and life she had this to say:
“The strength of the basic income is that it is unconditional; you get it because you are human and need money to live. You could do nothing all day, but nobody does that! I work all day without worrying whether there is a market for what I produce. And actually, my work improved a lot. I am positive that this is a valuable contribution to society as well. You give your life purpose in a way that you are comfortable with. I am so much happier now than I used to be. All we have to do is try something new. If we are too afraid to try something new, we will remain stuck in the present, outdated bankrupt system, with its poverty, inequality and unfair distribution.”
In Groningen we met with Joop Roebroek and he is one of the people behind MIES. We were very warmly welcomed and had a wonderful conversation in which many topics were discussed. From the Participation act to the origins of the Dutch welfare state and from what works and what simply doesn’t work. Joop was particularly proud that they managed to first implement the basic income in Groningen and not in for instance Amsterdam. On that he said:
“MIES does not believe in blueprints and five-year plans, but rather but rather that we can improve our society by acting, by testing out, prototyping and refining. After all, this is how neighborhood care and energy coops came into existence.”
We like his spirit!