1941 Bennebroek
1944 Rotterdam
First memories of Canadian bombers flying overhead, dropping food packages.
1946 Bennebroek
I left Kindergarten after two days, but was relieved to attend an experimental primary school with plenty of room for creativity, independence and nature.
1955 Bennebroek
Parents divorced.
1956 Heemstede
Dropped out of school at 15. Music and football was my life.
1959 Nijmegen
The big turning point. Air Force psychologists found that I was extremely intelligent, and insisted that I go to college afterwards to become an air traffic controller.
1961 Haarlem
Attended evening Gymnasium and worked work at a travel agency in Haarlem. Heavy but passionate times.
1967 Amsterdam
Moved to Amsterdam to study cultural anthropology and international development. I threw myself into the democracy movement.
1969 Amsterdam
Married and had a daughter.
1976–2006 Amsterdam
Worked at the University of Amsterdam and VU conducting research, teaching, and providing policy advice aimed at poverty reduction and environmental policy development. Worked in 25 countries across all continents.
2006–2015 Amsterdam
Since retiring I'm a full-time writer in newspapers and online.
2006–2015 Amsterdam
Occasionally take university classes, I'm sometimes a healer / baby-whisperer, owners association president, contact for the Kattenlaan Area, and active in the district and with cycling issues. I also organize of hikes, including for expats.
Please note: all conversations will be assigned randomly


Ondergronds is named for those exceptional conversations below the surface.

While travelling through Amsterdam on a daily basis, we pass by hundreds of strangers and rarely get a chance to connect. Ondergronds allows you to have a real conversation with one of those strangers – perhaps the connection will last, perhaps it may inspire other conversations on your daily travels.

About the team:

Julien Thomas developed urban interventions and creative civic engagement strategies in Vancouver, and graduated from the Sandberg Instituut in 2016.

Webdesign: Fabian Hijlkema

Photography: Coco Plooijer

Ondergronds is an initiative of the Knowledge Mile Coalition, a community of knowledge institutions, companies, organisations and residents working together along the Wibautstraat and Wesperstraat from Amstelplein to Nieuwmarkt.


Do you have questions, want to participate, or want to set up an Ondergronds project in your city? Feel free to contact us.

We are

  • Gemeente Amsterdam

  • Knowledge Mile Coalition

  • Amsterdam Boiling

  • GVB

  • Humans of Amsterdam