We are a volunteer collective
De Peper operates as an anarchist-style volunteer collective, under the umbrella of EHBK for the licence, and has its chamber of commerce registration as Kulture Kitchen. The collective functions more or less democratically, based on principles of communication and skills sharing, supported by a healthy dose of passion and compassion.
We have a great group of people and a fantastic space filled with possibilities. On an everyday basis, members of the collective develop ideas and dreams stemming from personal inspiration or project aspirations. Having a place and a varied network of skilled people at hand really helps to realize these dreams. But it requires some effort and organising skills. Most of the volunteers have a go-getter DIY-mentality, impressive improvisation skills, and are generally politically engaged, fun-loving and empathic people. We enjoy spending our time productively.
Although we spend lots of time on this project, it is not a paid job. We volunteer; we do it because we value the project and want to develop it further. Each of us commits to our various volunteer activities for all sorts of different reasons, but all of us aim to have fun doing it. Ultimately, it is our experiences in De Peper that motivates us to keep doing what we love or to try something new together.
Outside of licence limitations, health regulations, and our non-negotiable ban on meat/fish in our kitchen, we have no standard policies. All decisions and agreements grow organically in the action of everyday life, or are negotiated in our democratic volunteer group meetings. Each new initiative or situation is handled individually and forms of collaborations negotiated accordingly.
There is no boss or manager to check if group decisions are being followed up on, if tasks are being done correctly, and if volunteers are behaving properly. There is also no boss or manager to make difficult decisions for us or to take the blame if things go wrong. As a result, the volunteer collective is constantly developing new skills and finding new ways to organise agreement on our ways of conduct and plans of action. Being an action-oriented horizontal/non-hierarchic group, we are constantly forcing ourselves to reflect on our modus operandus and keep innovating.
Community-based non-business model
The project is 100% non-profit and living proof that profit is not required to stay in business. We believe everyone should have access to good quality food, regardless of the content of one’s wallet. That is why we ask financially well-off visitors to contribute more, so others can pay a below-cost price. With enough people joining for dinner, we can share all the basic expenses and the project can stay independent of subsidies, sponsors and capitalist thinking.
All our events are organised low-budget or even non-budget. We depend totally on the time, knowledge, skills, and networks of our volunteers. When all of us collaborate, we can bring together an enormous amount of creative energy and an extremely diverse network of people with all sorts of skills, knowledge, and materials to play with. We explore, challenge each other, make ourselves useful, and sometimes do things we had never dreamt possible.