The Power of Two is a talent show whose aim is to produce services for the quarter of Afrikaanderwijk through a collaborative process. Afrikaanderwijk is situated in the South bank of Rotterdam and it is considered one of the most problematic areas of the city. Approximately 28% of its inhabitants have an income under the poverty line.
The Power of Two was created during a month-long residency program offered to Cohabitation Strategies by the Freehouse. The Freehouse is an artistic project of Jeanne van Heeswijk, which has been operating in the Afrikaanderwijk area since 2008 in order to make visible the existing qualities of this neighborhood. The Freehouse recently generated a new hub, Het Wijkwaardenhuis, which is a platform for new encounters and collaborations in the neighborhood and for giving visibility to local products and assets. The Power of Two emerged from a dialogue Cohabitation Strategies had with Het Wijkwaardenhuis in order to contribute to this goal.
One of the issues which generated the idea of The Power of Two is the current obsession of the Dutch government to strengthen talents in The Netherlands and especially in problematic areas. Despite the considerable amount of money the government is investing for talent programs, those problematic areas aren’t really empowered but rather paternalistically re-educated.
We wanted to reverse the concept of talent and success spread by government programs and by the media in general, by using the very common format of the talent show. A format that everybody in the neighborhood know and easily can engage with. Instead of focusing on the individual talent and on the ultimate chance in life to gain success – as proposed in the televised talent shows -, we wanted to activate a collaborative process of creation of services. Those services have to originate from the inventive collaboration of two or more contestants of the talent show, they have to be the result of the union of the participants’ diverse qualities, they have to be useful for the neighborhood of Afrikaanderwijk.
The Power of Two puts into question how a talent is usually seen and perceived. It is based on the fact that each of us has an inclination, a capacity or a skill which can be useful for the society and can be turned into a talent by means of a creative process of collaboration. Moreover it encourages participants to invent innovative services which can respond to the contemporary needs.
The first edition of The Power of Two was a pilot project which involved ten participants in a three-weeks long talent show.
The first week the contestants got to know each other through a blind date and formed small groups of two or three people. Their task was to work together for the coming two weeks in order to create an original service for the neighborhood.
The second week the small groups met with mentors whose aim was to advise and challenge them in order to prepare a feasible plan for the further development of the service.
The final of The Power of Two took place during the third week. On this occasion the small groups presented and performed their ideas for a service. A jury was appointed to comment on the proposals and to establish, together with the audience, the best ideas. The first group winner was awarded with 500 euros, the second group winner was awarded with an in-kind support from the Freehouse.
During the three weeks of the talent show, participants immediately engaged with and understood the very essence of the game. They managed to manifest their qualities the way they wanted to and to turn their skills into talents for the neighborhood by cooperating instead of competing. Furthermore, the talent show had also an impact on local organizations developing training and talent development programs in the area which expressed their intention to collaborate with Freehouse and The Power of Two.
Freehouse intends to repeat the experiment in 2014, by organizing a second edition of The Power of Two, in order to make more neighborhood qualities emerge and to enrich the neighborhood asset of locally manufactured products and services, in collaboration with local media, institutions and organizations.
Freehouse at het Wijkwaardenhuis, Hans Venhuizen, Karin Mientjes, Peter Zuiderwijk