In 2019 Geert van Emden and Kelly Leeuwis started the Kongsi foundation. Inspired by a shared interest in building a green, sustainable city, they banded together in this non-profit organization. Their playful concepts unite a diverse public for a more pleasant and ethical living environment.
The decision to establish the Kongsi foundation on Delftseplein was propelled by the question how they could help make the city more social and green. ‘We started out organizing events targeting the social aspect. The kick-off was in Oase Rotterdam, with an awesome Bob Ross Painting Party. Everybody who came was asked to paint their vision of Rotterdam’s green future. Next came the idea to do a Christmas Bingo Feast. That attracted a mix of older and younger residents and was a big hit’, according to Geert.
When the coronavirus broke out, we all found ourselves having to rethink day-to-day life. But for Kelly, it was also an opportunity. During the organization of the first Motel Mozaique plastic-free festival, she noticed there was no eco-friendly alternative to conventional hand sanitizer spray. Kelly explains, ‘So, at the Warming Up festival last October, we launched that in the form of our Helpende Handspray [“helping hand spray” ed.]. Theater Rotterdam, one of our first big supporters, immediately embraced the concept, and Jack Bean and Roodkapje have it now, too. We just launched a pilot with the zero-packaging online supermarkt Pieter Pot and webshop Ecomondo, making the Helpende Handspray more accessible for consumers.’
One thing is certain: this duo is on a roll. Even as they’re gearing up to launch their first eco-friendly product, more initiatives are already in the works. ‘Next year we’ll be introducing the Spullenbieb – a Library of Things – based on the idea to make borrowing more fun than buying. It will take the form of a self-service kiosk where people can borrow high-quality things of the kind you tend to need maybe once a year.’ They’re also reviving last year’s ‘Liberation Soup’ (vrijheidsmaaltijdsoep) project. ‘We’re looking to exceed our prior total of 25,000 Rotterdammers, and to continue celebrating Liberation Day with delicious tins of soup every year.’
TEXT Céline Boute