donderdag 30 juni 2011

What's Up

Today I attended the 'What's Up' event by Fuse! Incentives.High above the city on the 32nd floor of the Rembrandt Tower. An amazing view, and an amazing morning. Fuse! Incentives does marketing in an innovative way. It's about understanding, passion and a smile.
George Parker was there. He's also amazing. A great speech about the magic of communication, and what's underneath the surface. What a great storyteller he is, and a magician in his own communication.
The energy of change, the challenge of not-knowing, and the power of sense.
By the way:
From now on I will be involved in Fuse! Incentives as their CSR-developer.

woensdag 29 juni 2011

Get Real / Real Self

Yesterday I went to Arnhem, the Fashion Biennale. The best exhibition was in the MMKA; Arnhem's modern art museum. Curated by Joke Robaard and Giene Steenkamp, the exhibition is an interesting research of the relation between fashion and language. In fashion magazines we read statements like:'time to get real', 'gold is the new black' or 'red is the new black' etcetera. What is real, and what makes a garment into fashion? The very first garments were just large pieces of woven fabric wrapped around one's body.
Later they became 'dresses, coats, skirts' etcetera. Based on philosophical quotes from Roland Barthes about 'real' the exhibition explores how functionality and beauty relate to each other in fashion.
According to Barthes 'real' clothing is divided in 3 layers: the real, tangible garment, the written garment and the imagined garment. In a fashion magazine the 'real garment' is absent; all we see is a representation of it in images and words. The curators keep asking during the exhibition: what happened to the real, woven garment? The chosen items show a great sense of craftmanship, with beautiful elements; very real.

vrijdag 24 juni 2011

Mars der Beschaving

The well of revolt has sprung. There are initiatives against destructive budget cuts all around.
This is the so-called 'March of Civilisation' due Sunday till Monday.
Be civilised; support!

maandag 20 juni 2011

World Refugee Day

These images ( Getty, AFP, Reuters) are taken in the world's largest refugee camp in Kenya, along the Somali border, and in Europe. Europe is not taking care of refugees but seems to be fighting them. Every person however has a story to tell.
Today in the Dutch paper Trouw the story of an Eritrean man living in The Netherlands for 20 years. He had to leave his country during the war with Ethiopia. His son grew up with his grant parents. For years the father tried to get his son with him. A DNA-test was needed to prove they are father and son. Five years ago the son received a permit for a visum. The Eritrean government though refused to give him a passport. Since being a young adult he faced the most gruesome circumstances while having to join military service, after leaving school. He couldn't stand it any longer and fled. No papers, no help. After a horrible journey through Sudan he reached Greece after two years. Now he desperately wants to join his father but is stuck in Athens. Continuous stress, and living in an open prison; that's what his life is like. Till when? Refugees are not people who go for some more luck in another country, but people who have all the reasons to get away from danger and despair. And have all the rights to do so. Amazing how the boys on the last photo can have so much fun. It's human resilience, and that's hopeful.

vrijdag 17 juni 2011

Budget cuts

I came across this poem which the Dutch poet Jaques Perk wrote in 1881. It's in a beautiful collection of his work, published in 1907; introduced by Willem Kloos. Many of his poems are sparkling and full of life, such as the Mathilda-cyclus, but his subtle touch of language also made him write about threats and darkness. It made me think of the unfair budget cuts we face in this country. In culture, care, education and environment. The poem is in Dutch...

De Bouwval
't Is alles nu met duisternis omtogen,
En 't starren-dak zendt stilte op 't glanzend puin,
De verre trots weleer van rots en kruin, -
Het maanlicht glipt door holle venster-bogen;

Geen sprankje mos wordt door een zucht bewogen,
Geen leven slaakt geluid in 't kil arduin
Slechts in den onkruid-ruigen bouwval-tuin
Schiet, klaterend een springbron naar den hoogen:

En 't lage dal blikt op, met vreeze en beven,
Naar 't slot, waar zang- en zwaardgekletter klonk,
Toen willekeur bevel vermocht te geven,-

En 't ziet, in schemer-schijn der nacht-zon, zweven
Het schimmen-heir, dat in den dood verzonk
Doch in den doodschen burg der nacht bleef leven.

We should revolt, and be like the well in the poem...

donderdag 16 juni 2011

How to sell and buy food.

In the RSSfeed of Chris Blattman this morning was this short film of a market in Thailand. Just how absurd people's life can be! An incredible situation, dangerous and not very healthy I would say. But also here is visible how resilient people can be. And very efficient in using space....

woensdag 15 juni 2011

Food Rules

This is a really simple manual by Michael Pollan. Food journalist and specialist from the USA. he wrote about 6 books about the food issue. Today's food matters are complicated. There is an abundance in our shops, there is a shortage in many parts of the world and we have obesitas as well as hunger problems. And many more issue to solve such as biodiversity, extinction of species, etcetera. Pollan can't solve all this with his ideas, but he raises questions we should all raise. He questions quality, complexity and industry. His rules are summarised in these 7 words: eat food, not too much, mostly plants.
Just one of his many rules in this book, which is a Chinese proverb:
Eating what stands on one leg
is better than eating what stands on two legs,
which is better than eating what stands on four legs.

In today's debate he is a sparkling voice.

dinsdag 14 juni 2011

Tree of Life

This weekend I watched the new film by Terence Malick Tree of Life. There are films and films. Some films you watch and either like or don't. You go home, put it on your list of 'seen it' and get back to normal. There are also films that are an experience, that you can't just watch. This is such a one. It got me right under my skin and in my heart.
The photography is stunning, the images of nature are stunning, the music is stunning. All this supports a simple story of a childhood in the USA Fifties, with 3 brothers, a loving poetic mother and a loving, strict and frustrated father. One boy dies. We don't even know how or why, and it doesn't matter. This film get incredibly deep into the essence of life, love and loss and that's enough. Surrealistic, heart-breaking, poetic and beautiful. The story is told through fragments mostly. We see the eldest son as an adult, trying to get grip on his memories. The tree of life is filled with memories, with those who are among us and those we had to let go. But still love.

vrijdag 10 juni 2011


Fragile though resilient this bog blossom is one of my favourite flowers. The soft cotton-like white blooms on strong short grassy stems are dotted in the landscape of Scotland. When it's raining they look rather sad, but with dry weather they proudly move in the wind. And sunshine makes them sparkle and glimmer....

How wonderful is a
perfect day of
Midsummer in the isles!
The horizons seem
limitless. There are no
trees to shade the sun
and the light is brilliant.

Seton Gordon 1926

donderdag 9 juni 2011


'In June the St Kildans used to round up the sheep on each of the islands for wool gathering. All the dogs and most of the islanders used to take part in the exercise, which was known as the 'ruagadh' and involved chasing the sheep round and round the island till they were trapped.'
Charles Maclean 1972

I've seen much of the contemporary way of sheep gathering on the Hebrides. It's less spectacular, but the wool is from a high quality. The landscape though, is still as spectacular as in those days. This image I took on Canna, one of the so-called small isles. Sheep walk around by themselves over the fields, and loose their left-over wool in the grass and on heather bushes. I use the beautiful pieces of wool to make the felted necklaces that are part of my collection. The regular wool I use to fill the flock of hand-knitted lambs in my collection.

dinsdag 7 juni 2011

World of Giving

This is an interesting book. About giving, as the title says. From compliments to donations. From a piece of bread to emergency aid. From philantrophy to governmental policy. It is written by Jeffrey Inaba and C-Lab at Columbia University.
It's a very helpful guide through the flow of aid and money. Designed as a design book which improves the readability.
What motivates giving? Is it altruism, is it a religious duty, is it reciprocity? This book shows all aspects playing a role in the world of giving and receiving. Why do NGO's compete with each other, what is the history of giving, how is giving embedded in our society? With cases that explain daily aid situations. With quotes from the Bible, the Koran, the Baghavad Gita. With good graphics about donation flows and the relation between give and receive, expenditures worldwide etcetera. Aid Capital is the term for the power of giving.
About the challenges we face towards the future. About the misinterpretations of facts and numbers. What struck me most was the clear explanation of the structure of aid. Being involved in development cooperation I'm aware how much can go wrong, and how important it is to care and share.
'Giving is any act that improves the capacity of another person. A gift can be as little as a nod of encouragement, or as great as taking a bullet for a friend.......Everyone is a giver. Every person gives to himself, many also give to others.'

maandag 6 juni 2011

Could we here?

This small film shows the joy of women and children when having guests. In the village of Utabwalero in Malawi. I was there with a colleague from 'Friends of Dickson' for the agriculture projects we do in the area.
Singing and dancing is in their genes so it seems. I was invited to join, which I did of course. It was hilarious and special. It made me wonder; how happy are we when having guests? How do we show that? How do we share happiness? Is happiness related to wealth? The answer to the last question is 'no'. For these people are among the poorest in the world; living from less than 2$ a day. I think we can learn from these women never to take anything for granted, and give more attention to our relationships than to our possessions. As Epiphano Chifumbi, a Malawian cathechist, expresses: a human being is a human being in relation to others.