Release: Former Vancouverite launches Ondergronds – Conversations between strangers on metro trains

What if everyone around you had an inspiring story to share? What if we lived in a city where strangers talked to each other? What if there was a way to have real conversations on public transit?

From November 15 – 29, designers Manon Veldhuis and Julien Thomas present Ondergronds, a series of 74 curated conversations between strangers on a moving metro train.

Get to know the stories behind everyday Amsterdammers.

Ondergronds begins with an online storytelling platform featuring 16 remarkable seniors. With past lives as ballerinas, bakers, psychologists, and sculptors, these Amsterdammers hold fascinating stories from real life, and they’re willing to share them with you.

Take Freek, for example. Or Marijk. Or Karina.

Freek remembers the Hunger winter of 1944, and was a soldier in the jungles of Indonesia before becoming a baker and mail clerk at Time Magazine. Marijke pioneered a MAVO program for working single mothers. And Karina’s a sculptor and painter who keeps a vast collection of objects for creative inspiration.

They’ll make you think differently about your everyday commute.

After exploring the lives of these amazing seniors, book a twenty-minute time slot to meet one of them for a conversation on the metro. On the day of your conversation, arrive at the Volkshotel and receive an audio-visual package to help prepare. Walk down to the metro, step onto the train, and meet one of the seniors for a conversation.

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About the Team:

Manon Veldhuis studied Spatial Design at AKV St. Joost, and currently designs theatrical sets and installations for Toneel Group Amsterdam and Theun Mosk.

Julien Thomas developed urban interventions and creative civic engagement strategies in Vancouver, and studies at the Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam.

Ondergronds is an initiative of the Knowledge Mile Coalition, a community of knowledge institutions, companies, organisations and residents working together along the Wibaustraat and Wesperstraat from Amstelplein to Mieuwmarkt.