The story of Johan
Noord and Zuid holland region
I first got to know Social Sofa when I was still living in Zoetermeer. The city took on a large project to decorate no less than 15 Social Sofa’s which would then be distributed throughout the districts of Zoetermeer. I signed up as a volunteer because I was unemployed at the time. It was a challenge, although I am very creative, I had never before done a mosaic. Thankfully it didn’t matter, and I was able to join the group. In the end, I did a whole sofa mosaic by myself. I really enjoyed doing it and the creative work gave me fresh ideas. I moved from the one sofa to the next, and the next, and the next. The municipality of Zoetermeer saw the potential in me and hired me as project manager and designer. I talked to the inhabitants about the sofa, about what the design should be. I went through the whole process, from drawing to grouting of the sofa. It has now been 7 years since I did my first sofa and I still enjoy doing them. I was mostly in the Randstad in the beginning, but now I take on projects in my own province of Zeeland. In Zeeland, there is an interest too and people like doing it. I often initiate a Social Sofa project, but people know where to find me by now. Zeeland will soon be well covered by Social Sofas! I’ve done projects throughout the Netherlands over the years: in Twente, Noordoostpolder, Leiden, Den Haag, Utrecht, West-Brabant. Social Sofa’s head office is in the Duvelhok, Tilburg where I can often be found too. I like to go there to keep my abilities up to speed and learn new skills. Staying in contact with the source is very important.
Another job I like doing for Social Sofa is maintaining and photographing the Social Sofas that have been placed. Because there are so many, and more are being added, it’s hard to keep track of their location. I’m often asked because people like to walk or cycle past the sofas. This way social contacts are encouraged, and the volunteers’ magnificent mosaics are admired! Social Sofa gladly cooperates with that! When I go to photograph the sofas, they are usually in use but that always leads to a good conversation.
The motivation for my commitment to Social Sofa is the creative part, but above all the social side! I visit many places, meet many new people, hear many lovely and interesting stories, and you bring people together. Together you have a goal, to beautify public spaces and enhance solidarity in the neighbourhood. It’s just very pleasant and fun!
The story of Regina
I went to Barcelona for a week in the summer of 2008 and there was so much to see. It was a feast for the eye, all the beautiful things that were created there. I thought to myself, something like that would be wonderful in my hometown of Kerkrade too. It took quite some time for me to be inspired by mosaics again. In 2012, I went to visit a friend in Rotterdam and, on her doorstep, is where I saw a Social Sofa for the first time. It reminded me of my visit to Barcelona and I immediately made enquiries into the mosaic sofa. I discovered that it was possible to mosaic a Social Sofa together with others. In 2013, I received a grant thorough Leefbaarheid Kerkrade to start the first Social Sofa project in Kerkrade. HEEMwonen housing corporation provided us with a space to mosaic the Social Sofa. The project was a success and has genuinely connected people and there was social cohesion. I couldn’t stop at just this project and have developed multiple. There are now Social Sofa’s to be found in Bleijerheide, Nulland, in the Kerkrade city park, in Erensteinerveld, at the steam train platform of Kerkrade station and at the Limburg Huis in GaiaZOO. The sofas are welcomed enthusiastically, and co-workers are already asking me when we’ll begin the next sofa. I do the projects with such enthusiasm. Working on a Social Sofa is a great social event; you meet people you might have never met, share wonderful stories and above all very pleasant.
The next big project is crossing the border. I not only want to do mosaics in the Netherlands but in Germany too. Kerkrade is close to the boarder and because I am German and speak the language it is definitely a possibility. In the future, I’d very much like to bring the sofas to Aachen. Social Sofa has done me the world of good and gives me the energy for this type of projects.
Social Sofa worldwide!