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Why many cities suck (but Dutch cities don’t)

As a Dutch person, it can be somewhat easy to take our everyday city design for granted. But after accidentally stumbling onto a random video on Youtube (one of many I later learned) praising the way Dutch cities are designed, it kind of makes you wonder why not more places are designed like this.

I am talking about the concept of walkable cities. Whether you need some groceries, run some small errands, pick up some medicine, or whatever, you don’t need to hop in the car to drive to the nearest shopping mall, you can probably find whatever you need in a 10, 15-minute radius, either on foot or with the bike.

Even though walkable cities are not exclusively Dutch, the commitment to casual transportation through cities (thorough biking infrastructure) and an increasing commitment to keep cars out of city centers, make it a country with some of the most comfortable and flexible ways of transportation in the world. Importantly, in contrast with countries like America, people in the Netherlands are generally not bound by a car for their everyday commutes and shopping.

And it’s not just convenient. Research shows that walkable cities also help people socialize, promoting community and decreasing loneliness. And it has a range of benefits in the areas of liveability, sustainability and health. For example, providing people with casual daily exercise, improved air quality, and generally more pleasant neighborhoods to live in.

In a world that is slowly becoming aware of the enormous effect of urban development on our communities, (mental) health, and a general feeling of happiness, cities made for humans (instead of cars) might just become the Netherlands’ best export product. A bunch of urban design geeks on Youtube certainly seem to think so and we might agree!

If you want to dive into the same youtube rabbit hole as I did (or just stroke your Dutch ego), start with the channel ‘Not Just Bikes’. This guy has a lot of videos comparing Dutch cities to cities all over the world, explaining what exactly makes them so great.

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Douwe Knijff

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Kim Pillen

Consultant

Before Kim Pillen started as a trend consultant at TrendsActive, she worked for four years as a creative strategist at Dept. For brands such as Philips, bol.com, Beiersdorf, JBL, and the Consumers’ Association, she built (online) campaign, brand, and social media strategies. After four years, she decided that she wanted to better understand people and society in order to advise brands more effectively. That’s how she ended up at TrendsActive. Here, she can do what she loves most: digging into people’s needs and then working with brands to see how and where they can be relevant and meaningful.

Douwe Knijff

Researcher

Douwe is fascinated by how people work. With a background in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (Bachelor) and Psychology (Master) and an analytical mind he tries figure out how societal shifts manifest themselves through social culture and human behaviour.

Aljan De Boer

Keynote speaker

Aljan has been widely recognized as an inspiring professional speaker on the critical trends that will shape society in the decades to come. He works as the Head of Inspiration at TrendsActive, a trend consultancy from the Netherlands using social science to human-proof business decision for brands like

  • Disney
  • Vodafone
  • Hugo Boss
  • ASR
  • Rabobank

Next to his role at TrendsActive he is the Community Director at the Institute for Real Growth where he inspires and connects a global community of +400 CMOs.  

He has been on the board of the Dutch Platform of Innovative Marketing for almost a decade. Regular speaker and moderator for the Dutch Marketing Awards and 3 times winner of the best of MIE. 

Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist

Kees his purpose is to help ambitious leaders and brands to human-proof their business. In 2003 he founded TrendsActive, a trend consultancy enabling brands to become more human centric.

Kees consults global brands like

  • Disney
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • Asics
  • Discovery Channel
  • Swiss Life
  • Vodafone

and many more.

Next to being the founder of TrendsActive, he is also initiator of the first academic trend master for executives at the University of Utrecht and is initiator of various trend studies and white papers on subjects like trust, meaning, visual culture & generations.

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Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist

Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist