Updated: Aug 7
We could not have asked for more! Design Thinking Tools, Sustainability, Circularity, Design for the Greater Good, Meeting people with a purpose, Building Green Cities. And of course all located in Amsterdam, with a profound sense of civilizational history, captured in museums, canal systems, and the bubbling spirit of innovation in every street corner. This blog captures a small slice of our kaleidoscope of experiences! The inspirational knowledge gained, along with the confidence to implement them, will feed our Gita Vicara Leadership Program in the Fall with a commitment to making a difference for Prithvi~Mother Earth. This will be a deep ecological series that operates at the confluence of our Heritage, Climate Change and Products that work for a greater good.
DesignThinkers Academy 2-Day Training Program
Taking on the challenge of how to make Amsterdam a more sustainable city to live in, we engaged in the ‘Double Diamond’ ideation process which involved Stakeholder Mapping, Customer Journey Mapping, and more surprisingly simple exercises aimed at shifting our focus to the people our products are being designed for. With this mode of thinking and working benefiting group work in any discipline, every member of our inter generational group brought a unique perspective and took away invaluable skills. Program facilitators Daphne and Elmo had us completely out of our comfort zones talking to people on the streets of Amsterdam and doing other hands-on, thought-provoking activities in their creative space conducive to dynamic teamwork.
De Ceuvel is known as a 'Cleantech Playground,' experimenting with new ideas about how to sustainably manage resources in a community. We received a tour of their small-scale technologies and techniques designed to bring us back in touch with our basic needs, which included compost toilets, an aquaponics greenhouse, helophyte filters, and upcycling efforts.
The FROLIC Studio team kindly gave us a tour of their workshop, including their design tools and eco-conscious products. We also got a glimpse of their personal sustainable choices, including growing their own greens for lunch and composting their waste. Their commitment to purpose-driven design combined with social consciousness is evident in their 'Better Planet Experiment', a pro bono offering of a 2-week product design sprint.
Some of us had the amazing opportunity to visit Floriade Expo 2022, a once in 10 year event in the Netherlands, absorbing the deeply innovative projects on sustainability and circularity from all over the world. 'Growing Green Cities' was breathtaking in scope. We came away completely blown away by the depth and breadth of the concepts presented for the planet, society, and coping with the impact of climate change.
The Location: Amsterdam
The Dutch capital is a city of countless gastronomic delights where everyone was able to find something to enjoy! In addition to Dutch specialty pancakes, cheeses, fries, and baked goods, we were beyond pleased with the variety of multicultural cuisines we tried, including Indonesian, Italian, Thai, Turkish, and Mexican. The Vegan Junk Food Bar eatery had such a colorful menu. Our gold star eatery was definitely our 3-peat favorite, Indian restaurant Anjappar, with spicy Chettinad cuisine! A lovely place for lounging after a long day - The Conservatorium Hotel. Their blogs and Event Schedule were a fantastic resource for us!
Amsterdam is renowned for its world-famous museums, being the birthplace of Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Vermeer and many more. Among the museums we visited were the Rijksmuseum, dedicated to Dutch arts and history, the Van Gogh museum, showcasing the enigmatic artist's life and legacy, and MoCo, featuring a wide selection of modern, contemporary, and street art.
Some of us were fortunate to make day trips outside of Amsterdam. Zaanse Schans is a small village full of wooden houses, windmills, and workshops. Giethoorn is another Dutch village characterized by boat-filled waterways and fairy-tale-like thatched-roof houses. We also visited cities including Rotterdam, home to peculiar cube-houses, Delft, famous for iconic churches and pottery, and The Hague, the administrative and royal capital of the Netherlands.
After hours we sat in the cozy lounge of the hotel late into the night. We indulged in hot chocolate and desserts, played card games, and reflected on our experiences. This was a special time for us to unwind and get to know each other, whether it was making new connections among members of our team or strengthening existing ones. It was truly a unique experience to be abroad with both family and friends.
We spent plenty of time exploring the city of Amsterdam and all that it has to offer. We observed architectural landmarks from a canal cruise, journeyed to A’DAM Lookout, an observation deck with a panoramic view of Amsterdam, and took part in the city’s famous nightlife attractions. There was not a single dull moment in Amsterdam, where we made connections and memories that will last a lifetime.
It was an amazing trip and we were lucky to complete it, especially given all the variables of global travel in this era. We deeply thank our team members for pulling all of us together! So much to share with our YICG GfS family for the projects ahead!