Hub Stories: Special Feature from Hub Amsterdam!

A view of the world at large

We at Hub Bay Area take pride in the international scope of our work community. Our shared ventures range from community development to fair trade soccer balls, from micro-finance to emergency aid, from collective design to mobile apps for migrant workers– and they span across the continents in their reach. But how often do we come face-to-face with our global counterparts, in order to exchange success stories and show solidarity for our common failures?

We are lucky to have visitors to Hub Bay Area, including Andrea Paoletti who helped design Hub Milan and is currently soliciting input and inspiration for our own Hub SoMa expansion. Earlier this month, Jeff gave a tour of Hub Berkeley to 20 MBA students from Lisbon. At least once a week I catch a stream of foreign language drifting out of the Project Room that I oftentimes don’t have time to investigate, though my curiosity is piqued…

Outside of chance encounters, though, we members of Hub Bay Area can often be unaware of what goes on at Hubs around the world, or too busy to tap into markets and idea streams that find their source offshore. And vice versa.

But last month, a European host reached out and featured our very own John Yuasa on Hub Amsterdam’s monthly newsletter. So in the name of equal exchange, and activating our channels of collaboration, here’s a return-peek into the lively membership base in Hub Amsterdam. Read, ponder, and if you are touched, reach out and connect.

Samantha, Your Hub Stories Correspondent

This story was originally featured on the Hub Amsterdam blog, and has been adapted to fit the Hub Stories format.

[Name]: Karel Smouter and Inger van Nes

[Areas of Expertise]: Community Design, Spirituality, Networking, Faith-based Activism


Karel Smouter, who was one of the earliest members of the HUB Amsterdam with his ‘still up and running’ venture Butch & Sundance Media recently re-joined the Hub, together with Inger van Nes, his colleague. ‘We come to work, share, ask and find new inspiration for our quest towards the church of the future.’

(c) Jörgen Caris

What is it that people of today are looking for in life, faith and community? What are the things that the church ‘contributed’ to city life that got lost in the process of secularization? These are the questions that Karel Smouter & Inger van Nes (ordained as ‘pioneers’ for the church of the future) are working, commissioned by the Protestant Church of Amsterdam.

The church of the future should not be about building cathedrals, but about building community. Back in the days communities tried to define and carry their members, this time around it should be the opposite: individuals should define and carry the networks they belong to.‘

The question is whether the church still has to fill a gap. Didn’t it get replaced already by other spiritual centres or even a place like the Hub? ‘Of course, you can go to all kind of spiritual centres but in my experience people usually simply go there and then go home. They do not stay to give something back or to build something up with the others around them.‘

Karel reckons that this is where the contribution of the church of the future might come in. ‘I’m dreaming of tomorrow’s churches to become places where you can really share life and meet each other, rather than just checking each other’s LinkedIn or Facebook and base your judgment on that. ‘Churches should be places where we get trained and encouraged to listen to and live with God and each other.’

The Generation Y, people between 18 and 35, is the focus of Karel & Inger’s project. They already hosted several ‘listening sessions’. The most fundamental question that keeps popping up in our conversations with 20-somethings in Amsterdam is the quest for places and networks where you are valued for who you are as a person, rather than for your CV on LinkedIn, your looks or your network. We need ‘warm networks’ rather than smart ones, with more diversity, love, humanity and flavor to it.’

Inger and Karel will spend 2011 exploring and documenting the ‘deeper layers’ of this generation. This will result in a documentary as well as a magazine about ‘the inner lives of 20-somethings’. They invite all Hub-members to a special ‘listening session’ exploring the question whether social endeavours of today are ‘tomorrow’s churches’ and how the world of social entrepreneurs might intersect (or not) with the potential, the buildings, the people and the values of the church.

‘We are looking for your voice – both to get encouraged and to receive critique. Everything is welcome.’ You are particularly welcome on the eve of June 6th 2011, where this special session for ‘social entrepreneurs’ will be organized from 7 – 10 pm. up in the attic of a former widow shelter, now the church’s offices @ Nieuwe Keizersgracht 18.

Connect to them via e-mail: karel.smouter[at] or inger.vannes[at]


1 Comment

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One response to “Hub Stories: Special Feature from Hub Amsterdam!

  1. Pingback: Hub Berkeley Weekly Roll Up: Unplanned | Hub Bay Area

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