Humans of NDSM | Finn Paehlig: basketballer with a green mindset on NDSM
In the De Werfers column, I go on a hunt for special stories from all the people who can be found at the NDSM wharf: from users to visitors to creatives and everything in between. I am curious what motivates them to come to the NDSM wharf. At the end of this column, the aim is to paint a picture of who the recruiters are and all their different ways of filling in and using the public space. For this edition I speak with Finn Paehlig (20), he lives in Amsterdam-Noord and can often be found on the 3×3 basketball court. He is also a proud owner of no less than 4 wharf gardens!
I meet Finn at our office (at the T.T. Neveritaweg) where we take a seat in the sun on the brand new pebble beach on the banks of the IJ river. I’ve known Finn longer than today; he is active at 3×3 Unites on the NDSM wharf and recently gave a workshop to other gardeners in the context of our wharf gardens, in which he shared tips and tricks about maintaining a vegetable garden. So Finn can often be found on NDSM, I am curious what the attraction of this part of the city is for him. Once we have settled on a picnic bench, we start our conversation.
“I recently moved to the neighborhood on Buiksloterdijk,” Finn begins, “before I came to live here, I was already working at 3x3Unites and I knew there was also a basketball court here. Then I immediately asked if I could station myself here. I have known the NDSM wharf for some time, a friend lived nearby so I had already been there a few times. I thought it was a cool place from the first time I was here.”
“I’m a basketball player,” Finn says when I ask what he’s doing at the moment, “I first studied Future Planet Studies at the UvA, because my interest lies in sustainability. That started quite early, I can remember that as a child I always wanted to be an animal rescuer, I was always busy being with outside. As I got older I started to take more and more steps towards a more sustainable life in my diet and lifestyle and eventually I chose to study in that area. But during that study I became very gloomy about being confronted every day with how we as humanity deal with our environment. It’s the reality, but I found it very difficult to have to analyze that every day. That is why I quit after a year and I am now trying to work with sustainability in other ways. I want to eventually end up in that world, helping people to make the earth better for future generations.”
I then ask Finn how he ended up in Amsterdam-North and the NDSM wharf. “I’m originally from Diemen,” he says, “coincidentally, I heard at one point that a friend had a room in Noord where I could live. So I ended up here in the first place. I already knew what the NDSM wharf was then, but I had only been there a few times. I do remember that I was very impressed by the size of the grounds and the Loods. What I like about this place is that it is so colorful and there is room for expression. Since the first time I walked around here, the yard has already given a very open impression.”
Mensen helpen om de aarde beter te maken voor toekomstige generaties
I also ask Finn about his work for 3x3Unites on NDSM. “That was quite remarkable,” he says, “I lived in Amsterdam-East at the time and one afternoon I was playing basketball on the courtd there. Then out of nowhere a boy of 2 meters tall came up to me to ask me if I would like to participate in a “leader course”, that is a training in which you learn how to guide young people as a role model and positive coach. and build a community within basketball. I did that then and from there I continued to grow in the organization. I think it’s really cool what 3x3Unites stands for: diversity, inclusiveness, equality of opportunity, these are all things that match my own standards and values and that I like to commit to. There are a number of moments per week that we organize ourselves where everyone is welcome to come and play on the field without obligation.
Of course I also ask Finn what he would do with the NDSM wharf if he were in charge of the public space. After thinking for a while, he says: “I think the wharf as it is already has very good qualities. I would take some of the industrial off if I was in charge and let more greenery grow. For example, a food forest, in a small space where people can look around and possibly pick an apple.” In line with the idea of a food forest, I ask Finn about his own vegetable garden on the wharf. “I really like how I can still create some green space in an overall concrete and industrial area,” he says, “the contrast is very strong. I think the vegetable garden boxes are a real asset to NDSM. I think it would be great, if hopefully soon there is more possible again as the corona restrictions lift, to organize something at the whaf gardens. For example a salad party where we make some beautiful salads with ingredients from the gardens, with some drinks on the side.”
Our conversation is slowly coming to an end and I notice how nice it is to talk to Finn. He exudes a certain calm that is contagious on my mood. “I really enjoy inspiring people to get started with green,” Finn concludes, “that’s where my ambition really lies. In my opinion, we need a consciousness shift: that we are not only dependent on materialism but also mainly dependent on nature. We have lost our connection with nature and something needs to be done about it. This is allowed in small steps, which will hopefully make the change more accessible. The easiest thing you can do as a human being to give the world a helping hand is to grow a plant. It’s very easy and also a lot of fun. That plant wants to grow, so you don’t have to do that much, just try it yourself!”