Our Story

In the summer of 2018, a group of residents from the Red Light District came together to discuss the increasing crowds and to explore ways to maintain a livable environment.

With support from the municipality, they launched a campaign under the name "We Live Here" to raise awareness among visitors that the Red Light District is not just a tourist attraction but primarily a residential area.

The goal is to foster understanding for the residents and to request consideration for local living conditions. As part of this campaign, some residents volunteered to be photographed, with the resulting photos exhibited on the streets with a clear message: "Feel welcome, but please behave."

Lange Niezel

The housing association "Stadsgoed" temporarily provided a space on "Lange Niezel." Here, an information center was set up featuring photos of local residents. Local volunteers explained to visitors that three thousand people live in the Red Light District, ranging from singles to families with children, all deeply rooted in this neighborhood. Residents who show their love for their neighborhood and who are not deterred by the expectation that Amsterdam will attract an estimated 25 million visitors by 2025, the majority of whom will likely also visit the Red Light District. Residents "like you and me," leading normal lives.

In a short time, we gained worldwide recognition, who would have dared to dream...?
Initially, it's quiet in our center. We have to find our footing, and it's unclear how long the project will last. Nor do we have any idea what effect this project will have. Unbeknownst to us, the project suddenly takes off at the end of August 2018 when national and international media show up at our doorstep: Het Parool, Trouw, CNN, ARTE, ARD, ZDF, France 2 Bruxelles, ORF, Acces, and even the BBC, Times Magazine, and The New York Times. We become the subject of the beautiful documentary 'Overtourism' by Polish filmmaker Michal Materna.

United States

An American woman passing through to Belgium tells us that "We Live Here" has even been a topic of discussion on an American radio station. Despite her short stay in Amsterdam, she wants to get acquainted. Even four burly Americans from "Midwest, Iowa," first-timers in Europe, already know about us.
Apparently, we're doing something right; it resonates with people.

Oudezijds Voorburgwal 136

Due to renovation work, "We Live Here" bids farewell to this location after a year and a half on Lange Niezel. Fortunately, housing association N.V. Zeedijk can temporarily accommodate us at Oudezijds Voorburgwal 136.

It feels like a fresh start. Unlike Lange Niezel, which is a thoroughfare with mostly passersby, here it's mainly tourists passing by. We often feel like a sort of 'VVV' (tourist information), with the most frequently asked question being: "Where is the smokeboat..?"

World Map

To visualize the origins of our visitors, a world map hangs on the wall. Dots on the map mark the hometowns of these visitors. After six months, it turns out that the majority are from Europe. However, we also receive visitors from the northernmost part of Canada to the southernmost tip of South America, from North to South Africa, and from Asia to New Zealand. The diverse backgrounds of our visitors reflect the international allure of our center, making it a unique and worldwide meeting place.

Oudekerksplein 30

In October 2019, we bid farewell to Oudezijds Voorburgwal 136 as we move to Oudekerksplein 30. A beautiful space with excellent facilities, for which we are very grateful to housing association Stadsgoed.

Expansion of Activities

Our activities expand here. 'Red Light Arts and Culture' regularly provides engaging performances, we organize a cozy neighborhood room twice a week, 'It's Ok' is present on Wednesdays, and the neighborhood broker holds office hours here. Additionally, the space is regularly used for various meetings.
It's fantastic to see that the space is now being used almost daily.

Social Impact

The project has a social impact as volunteers who may have lived within 100 meters of each other for more than twenty years get to know each other and spontaneously start working together without strict plans. They let the creative process take its course. The number of volunteers steadily increases, and they take on various roles within the project.
For some volunteers, participating in this project means an escape from social loneliness. They may have wandered aimlessly for a while, but now they have a purpose in their lives again.

Galjaard Prize 2019

The best proof of the right communication approach is winning the Galjaard Prize 2019. This prize is awarded annually to an initiative in the field of public communication.

There are serious competitors, such as the National Police and the municipality of Rotterdam, but the jury awarded the Galjaard Prize to 'We Live Here' because it “opened doors in the most appealing and inviting way, literally and figuratively.”

Our 'storytel,' telling a story through images, was crucial in this.

Clear Message

We won't solve the crowds, but we can try to improve livability. "I live here, Enjoy it like you would in your own neighborhood" is a message that should make everyone think, wherever you are.