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The future of everyday living
EU2016 arts & design programme

The shackle theory

Circularity for ordinary citizens

We are Lizzy and Lynn and we’re taking part in the student programme of FabCity. All of these FabCity students are spread over 10 neighbourhoods in Amsterdam, within which every neighbourhood has its own research case. We have been working in the area of Buiksloterham, located in Amsterdam-North (Dutch: Noord). This area is under development in becoming circular. But what does this actually mean?

When hearing or reading about circularity, you often come across terms like these:
– Sustainable energy
– Closed loops
– Clean technologies
– Urban biodiversity
– Climate adaptation
– Smart and bio-based area development
– Efficient commodity flows

Right…. now what? And how about the inhabitants of Buiksloterham, how do they interpret this? Well, we formulated our own definition of the word circular, something ordinary citizens like us can relate to:

cir·cu·lar (sûr′kyə-lər)
1. Circularity means thinking further than ourselves, for example knowing where the products we buy come from and what this means for our surrounding. It means being concerned with the well-being of our surrounding (and therefore indirectly the well-being of ourselves too, given the fact that we live in it).

With this definition it’s not that hard to understand circularity any longer, which might make it easier for inhabitants of the Buiksloterham area to go along with circular developments here. So in this way you don’t need knowledge of such things, or loads of money to finance it to play your part in circularity as an inhabitant.


© Lynn Smit & Lizzy Steller

© Lynn Smit & Lizzy Steller

First we examined how big our individual worlds are. Do we feel concerned with all that’s happening in society? The plastic soup in oceans for instance? And do we feel we can contribute to this, that we can make a difference? The outcome of this investigation asked for a plan of attack. So we created a theory, called the shackle theory, which underlines the powerless feeling we often get when we’re confronted with big societal topics. We applied this to the neighbourhood, to let them experience that our influence on our surrounding is much bigger than we think.

Are you curious? Check out