AMuse: placemaker Jeffrey Grouwstra

Every year in June, the AMuse magazine is released; the magazine of AM about placemaking. Inspiring and informative. For everyone interested in placemaking and all that comes with it. Featuring special placemakers, compelling interviews, fascinating stories, the latest news in placemaking, and much more. In the lead-up to the new edition, we publish 'AMuse; placemakers in their own words' monthly. This time: Jeffrey Grouwstra.

Occupation: Photographer & founder of KijkLab
Age: 45
Proud of: All the stories of residents that I got to share
Key in placemaking is… Trusting and letting go: Dare as an organization to have trust in residents; they often know what works best.

Means to an end

"Where many photographers simply take photos, I try to give something back with my photography. That's why I founded KijkLab. KijkLab uses photography in social and community projects. The image is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. Because images facilitate conversations much more easily and lead to very different discussions."


"A camera gives me a legitimate reason to engage with people. If I were to knock on someone's door without a camera and say I'd like to come in and take a look around, they'd probably raise an eyebrow. The camera gives me access to people's worlds that would otherwise remain hidden from me. And the beauty of imagery is that it's much less culturally bound. It doesn't matter if you were born in Afghanistan or Norway; we almost all read a photo in the same way."

Angry housing association

"I used to live in The Hague Southwest. A neighborhood with a lot of social housing; large flats with many families. There was no money for vacations. During the holidays, all the children played outside. I remember vividly when the housing association redesigned the garden, without consulting the residents. We then completely redesigned the garden with good intentions and turned it into a motocross track. The housing association wasn't too happy about that. Although it was actually the ultimate resident participation. I think a seed was planted then..."

Social issues

"With my photography, I focus on small personal stories related to major social issues. Certain policy decisions made behind a desk can have a big impact on people. I try to show through a personal story what the effect of certain policies is. I'm convinced that photography touches people much more than reports and statistics."

Under wraps

"I previously made a series of photos of mobility scooters on the street. The series was called 'Under Wraps'. Because the batteries could catch fire, the scooters were eventually no longer allowed indoors. This caused all sorts of problems. Owners had to cover their scooters every day with rope and tarp. But these were not the most mobile people, and it meant they used their transportation less. Fortunately, more shelters eventually came. Of course, not just because of my photos, but they did start the conversation."

My Duindorp

"With Kijklab, I don't just take photos, I also organize many participatory photo projects; projects where residents themselves take photos. For example, I recently had children in the Duindorp neighborhood of The Hague photograph their surroundings. Duindorp is often portrayed negatively in the media. We wanted to change this perception. With success. The photos were exhibited in a museum and gained national attention. This led to a completely different conversation about Duindorp. I am incredibly proud of these children. This is exactly why I do what I do."