Every first Sunday of the month, the BankjesCollectief (BenchesCollective) turns the streets of Amsterdam into the ‘largest’ outdoor café in the world. The owners of the benches decide what they offer and the visitors determine the value afterwards. Of course, the offerings can be food and drinks, but also activities like salsa classes, knitting workshops, and (clothing) swap sessions.
Urbanites in the Netherlands and abroad are invited to join the collective and ‘open’ their own bench. On the website you can pin your location, determine your opening hours and make a brief description of the menu or activity at your bench and you’re set to go! The idea of BenchesCollective reminds of Restaurant Day. However, on Restaurant Day the food is most important, while the BenchesCollective takes a typical Dutch phenomenon as a starting point: the ubiquitous privately owned benches on sidewalks in front of houses.
“A (shared) bench on the sidewalk invites spontaneous conversations with neighbors and makes it easier to meet each other. The monthly cafe stimulates these new encounters. Also, it tries to encourage people to look at public space as a shared canvas that can be colored by us all”, BenchesCollective founder Jesse Jorg explains.
This Sunday the BenchesCollective will be organizing its last outdoor café of the season. One of the registered benches ‘Pop-Up Petanque’, is an ode to France and offers French wines and cheeses, as well as a little petanque tournament for passers-by. Another bench, ‘Shake ya BonBon’, invites people to enjoy Belgian bonbons (chocolates) and offers the opportunity to shake away the calories afterwards. There will also be a BenchesHopper, a transformed Piaggio Ape that takes visitors from one bench to the other. Check out the website to find benches near you.