01Jul

Life Cycle Stories

There are few things that possess such duality in our everyday lives as food: it is a necessity, it is a luxury, there is an overabundance of it, there is a lack of it, it is healthy, it is unhealthy. However, one of the most overlooked aspects of our food is its origins. Questions like where does our food come, how is it made, who produces it, and what impact has it on our environment, are rarely asked or even thought of. Recent years have shown a rise in conscious consumerism and awareness about our meals, however it is still something that is not adapted by many.

This is not the case with Anne Pekelharing. Anne has always been fascinated by food. Since her childhood she has her mind set on food, cooking and creating new dishes. The underlying thought for her has been that food is more than just eating or drinking, it inspires, connects, and drives us forward. From her love for food and desire for adventure Life Cycle Stories was born.

Anne was inspired by the questions we usually do not ask about food. It was essential to approach food as something that has an extensive impact on our everyday lives and our environment rather than something that is always available and possesses limited value. She felt that to understand and witness the journey of our food, it was essential to track it to its origins. However, our meals come in many different forms and from all over the world, so it is imperative to get out and explore the different regions, people, production, traditions, and environment where the food comes from. Life Cycle Stories focuses on sustainable food production and the small, personal stories about the people behind these endeavors.

Life Cycle Stories follows Anne on her journey through Europe, 8 countries in 6 months. It takes courage, discipline, and clear vision to leave your everyday comforts and tasks behind to travel across Europe on your bike. It also takes a special kind of spirit to be concerned enough about a specific problem and acting upon it. This kind of journey does not have to be realized by travelling to distant destinations, it can be achieved by looking up your local food producers. Anne’s adventure is inspirational not only, because she decided to concentrate on different countries in Europe and their specific ways of making food, but also because she is determined to create awareness and shine a light on the issue that is close to her heart. It is about passing on the knowledge that you gained and by doing that having a positive impact on the society and the environment that we live in. Life Cycle Stories is also a story about the people. Inspirational individuals who, like Anne, chose to have a specific mindset when it comes to food. These stories are as much about the people and their culture of producing the food in fair and passionate way. It is an in-depth look of their everyday struggles and successes.

For us Anne and her hosts are an inspiration and we are very much looking forward to the fascinating tales that are Life Cycle Stories. Meanwhile you can follow her adventures on Instagram, Facebook and lifecyclestories.com

14Jun

The Ocean Cleanup

 

If the planet looks blue from our sky, it is only when one’s head is in the water that one becomes aware of reality. The ocean has become a vast garbage can where gyres are accumulating waste at an alarming rate. “Ocean Cleanup”, a revolutionary device created by Boyan Slat aspires to give our Earth a new hope.

The idea

Boyan Slat, the young engineer at the initiative of this project, hopes with his plan “Ocean Cleanup”, to succeed in cleaning the oceans of plastic waste. Originally announced to be in place from 2020, this project should emerge in the coming months.

Called “The Ocean Cleanup”, the ambitious project aims to recover no less than five trillion plastic waste from bottles or bags floating on the surface of the seas. How? Thanks to a system using marine currents to trap waste.

A new system set up in few months

In June 2016, the 22-year-old Dutchman launched his first test in the North Sea. To ensure the viability of the project, the company build a 100-kilometer long barrier of floats and nets in the North Sea off the coast of the Netherlands. But since then, things seem to have accelerated.

At a recent presentation in Utrecht, the Netherlands, Boyan Slat and the engineers with whom he is working, have announced that a new, more efficient system is emerging. The latter indeed replace this unique barrier in the form of a “V” with a fleet of several small systems, much more profitable.

Over the next twelve months, about 30 km of smaller, 2-kilometer-long barriers attached to a 12-kilometer floating anchor should be launched and navigated by sea currents to collect plastic waste on their way.

The Ocean Cleanup Deployment Simulation

An inspiring example

His project was born from a simple sketch drawn on a paper towel. Boyan Slat was then 17 years old. “During a scuba diving on holiday in Greece: under water, I saw more plastic than fish”, he explained. Today, the dream of the young Dutchman, to rid the world’s oceans of plastic, is about to become reality.

Ocean Cleanup is an inspiring example of how we can address the growing problem of water pollution.

We believe that we are all creative people. We share the talent to think of simple but efficient sollutions to the problems that we face today. We have to have dreams to create the impossible. But the example of Boyan shows that we can.

Boyan SLAT – CEO & Founder

DUTCH PICTURE INDUSTRY believes in projects like The Ocean Cleanup, because it inspires people in the way of protecting our planet. Indeed, by minimizing our impact on the Earth, we could offer a better future for the next generations.

As we saw in the previous blog about crowdfunding, the power of people is changing through the evolution of the Internet. New ways of actions are emerging and people can now act from anywhere they are on subjects they care about. At your level you can act for the oceans’ protection by signing the petition: Save our Oceans – End plastic pollution now!

“They didn’t know it was impossible so they did it” – Mark Twain

11May

Crowdfunding: be the change you want to see in the world

If there is a revolution that marks the beginning of the 21st century, then this must be the connectivity with events, issues and persons all over the world. Connected to this connectivity is “participatory” effect.

After introduction, the notion of participatory democracy, notably thanks to the power of social media and online petitions, a new way of financing has blossomed. Individuals are gradually discovering that they can act by themselves for causes that are dear to them, to bring to the world the change they want to see.

Collaborative economics

Crowdfunding allows, through the financial participation of individuals who recognize themselves in a project or who want to support one, to participate in the development of a project that may not have been able to see by traditional financing. Beyond former borders, innovative projects have been created, that stand for innovation and change. Projects that wouldn’t be supported by the normal financial system, are now nourished. Crowdfunding is therefore part of the collaborative economy, since it relies on trust

The buzz is going around that crowdfunding creates new possibilities. But what is the success rate and what makes people participate? First of all there are a lot of different sorts of crowdfunding.

Crowdlending: an innovative way of financing personal projects

For a long time, banks were the only ones able to present an offer of financing. Now individuals can obtain peer to peer lending, whether for a cash need, a desire to travel, for a renovation of a house or a big operation that you are unable to finance yourself.

Small business and crowdfunding

Crowdfunding makes a real difference for small business. It also allows companies to federate around them a community of customers, collaborators and suppliers. Especially because small business should present their business model, product or service to the crowd of individuals to convince them to finance them, crowdfunding makes it possible to carry out a prototype of a new product.

Investors can either receive product or services from the business or they can invest in the business’ capital and receive interests in return. Unlike classical ways of financing, crowdfunding allows investors to choose themselves where their money goes. There is a direct connection between the investor and the entrepreneur. They share an goal. Success of the company.

Crowdfunding plays here the game of proximity through savings that are not only responsible and solidarity, but also transparent and close to investors.

How NGOs find a new way of fundraising 

It now seems quite inevitable for NGOs to take a closer look at these new fundraising techniques if they want to sustain their budgets. First, because the financing through governments’ helps is less and less substantial. Secondly, because the growth of crowdfunding is increasingly orienting the public towards digital financing of projects, humanitarian or otherwise, which will undoubtedly divert it from the traditional physical collections for which it is solicited by the historical NGOs.

Crowdfunding allows the shortening of the circuit between the financer and the project, which reinforces the feeling of transparency and traceability. Indeed, it responds to the emergence of a concept of proximity in which citizens wish to give more meaning to their financial contributions by following their own sensitivities and limiting intermediaries.

To guarantee its independence, Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), launched in November 2016 a crowdfunding platform, with the aim of collecting 1 million euros in 60 days. Intended for the youngest, between 18 and 35 years old, it invited them to pledge on the platform independance.msf.fr and it offered a range of rewards for all amounts, including a guitar signed by the Muse group.

A platform for each project

Thus, the only term of crowdfunding encompasses many realities. Different platforms have different functions, and even different philosophies. While all have in common to create a relationship between a project and investors, some are more focused on NGOs and individuals, while others represent a lever for future business.

I myself pledged Boyan Slat to support him in his vision to clean this world from the plastic waste that we are surrounding us with. Please share your thoughts on crowdfunding so we can learn from it. I didn’t do it for the pledge. It gave me a feeling of participating in a solution of a better future.

As the banks are giving almost no interest on money on the bank it stimulates me to look for alternative forms of investment. From personal to solar and sustainable project. The future will tell, where I will invest my money in.

Now that it is all possible, leaves us with the question does it reach the bigger audiences. My question to you, did you ever pledge a crowdfunding campaign? Why did you? Because of the cause, the product, the pledges or to support a personal goal. Why did you get involved, please share your experiences so we can learn from it.

At DUTCH PICTURE INDUSTRY, we are aware that if people work together on a common project, they can collectively make things happen and change the world.

09Mar

Society needs to take a fresh look at difference

It´s time for society to wake up. We should stop looking with suspicion at the one who has skin too black, or not enough white, the one who is too old or disabled… At the same time, we shouldn’t ignore our differences either. And stop saying that difference is automatically good thing. To become a strength difference should come from a strong desire to succeed together. To have a common goal.

The French skipper Eric Bellion is the instigator of COMME UN SEUL HOMME (“Like a single man”) which claims that difference is a strength. After 15 years of sailing adventures with teams composed by valid and disabled people, Eric Bellion came to the conclusion that together we can push the limits of difference and reach summit, “like a simple man”.

His message: our differences are an added value, diversity is strength and handicap does not mean incapacity. With his project he promotes the value of differences in a European context, in a time where nationalism sentiments are vastly growing.

Bellion has decided to take the floor to counter the spread of fear and rejection of diversity and to bring a new perspective to diversity. He said: “This extreme situation has allowed me to realize just how far this message about difference has taken me. Thanks to this adventure, I have reached more people in a year and a half than in fifteen years of crewed sailing.”

THE UNKNOWN IS NOT A GREY AREA 

By nature, we are suspicious of people which are different. We are gathering with people who look like us, this is without a doubt more reassuring than the unknown. However, difference is neither a weakness nor a threat. This could, conversely, be transformed into an advantage, or an inestimable strength. It is to defend this crazy dream that Eric Bellion decided to launch the #APPELPOURLADIFFERENCE (Call for difference) and embarked on the adventure of the Vendée Globe 2016.

Eric and his team have been creating projects that beat common preconception about visible differences like handicap, but also gender, differences between generations, cultures and social backgrounds. The idea is to convince people that diversity is strength and a wealth.

But for difference to become a strength, we must be patient, benevolent and persistent. We have to go beyond the times of doubt and despondence, be confident and have the certainty that difference could be positive. Difference between people stimlulates creativity and opens new opportunities. We must have a strong desire to succeed.

THE INITIATORY TRAVEL

With the tetraplegic adventurer Laurent Marzec, Bellion embarked on the Défi-Intégration (Integration Challenge) to form a crew composed of three disabled athletes and three valid athletes. They set the record for sailing in sixty-eight days. It is the only mixed team to have a world record. A challenge in the challenge…
“I discovered the value of difference with a teammate named Oliver. Oliver was a blind person. At the beginning of the travel, he was not the best sailor but at the end, he was our best helmsman. He was the fastest, as is disability forced him to feel the wind and it became an asset. His difference becomes a strength.” said Bellion

“’Trying new things has always been the driving force of my life, until now I have always succeeded.” Eric Bellion

 “TAKING CARE, IS KNOWING THE OTHER”

Weakness in a team often creates a kind of rejection or contempt. Do you remember at school, where you had to create sport’s teams? There was always someone chosen in last. Why? Because their visible frailty made them a less competitive person.

Bellion: “A few years ago, I had the opportunity to participate in survival training to learn sea rescue. I was in a pool and I had to escape from a false helicopter frame. Several disabled people were with me and they were all comfortable with this training because they all practiced swimming. Conversely, a camerawoman, who was valid, but claustrophobics, failed the training. She was the one who needed help, and not the disabled people which were with us. This demonstrates that our vision of weakness is often wrong.”

This is when all the members of a team are able to accept their weakness that the performance is coming. Each person complements one another and weaknesses become strengths.

“We are looking to protect people but this is a mistake. Protecting and taking care are two different things. When we protect someone, we isolate them; however, taking care is knowing each other”. Eric Bellion

THE VISION OF PROMOTING THE WEALTH OF DIVERSITY SUGGESTED BY ERIC BELLION BREAKS WITH THE  THE GROWING NATIONALISM IN EUROPE…

Nowadays, the world is becoming globalized and people tend to be more and more scattered and mixed, but at the same time societies are in the way of becoming more self-centered and some people seem not to accept diversity.

The world has seen a sharp rise in support for authoritarianism, jingoism and racism, with a pro-Brexit vote in the UK, Trump coming to power in the US, Erdogan and Sisi further clamping down on their citizens in Turkey and Egypt, Marine le Pen and Geert Wilders making prominent gains in France and Holland, and far-right parties in Poland and Germany suddenly rising to the fore. In a global situation where ordinary people seem to be losing trust in their leaders or even traditional government structures, the risk is that they will opt for authoritarian leadership…


“Even if I am currently on the open seas, the news of  Donald Trump´s election has come to me. For me this means to curl up and to build borders, when we should, on the contrary, take risks and go toward the others. This is the price to get rid of our fears, and believe me, this is fabulous.” Eric Bellion

Through his projects, Eric Bellion is promoting the idea that diversity brings dynamism and wealth in a group, and this wealth is the key to success. His message: we should stop focus on our visible differences and start concentrates us on our invisible likeness.

At DUTCH PICTURE INDUSTRY, we create concepts born from our personal experience, our vision to create inspiring content, building cross media concepts and innovative media productions to make a difference in the world around us. Our productions are based on the unique story behind human beings, their experiences and their spectacular surroundings.

 If you want to read more about the project, visit COMME UN SEUL HOMME

 

24Nov

Triggering Empathy with Virtual Reality Storytelling

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” – Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird

Arousing empathy has almost always been at the core of storytelling. In Virtual Reality (VR), storytellers have found a new tool with which to give viewers an even closer physical sensation of another person’s lived experience. In other words, VR has the possibility of most fully realizing a second person experience of a story: YOU transform into a character in the film, experiencing their visual and auditory sensations in 360 degrees. Director Chris Milk has dubbed virtual reality films “empathy machines” that move and stimulate viewers to social action more than any other media to date. The art world has been exploring this claim in performance pieces and virtual reality films. Meanwhile, scientific researchers are investigating the quantitative and qualitative evidence for and against the empathetic effects of virtual reality. Critics remain skeptical of virtual reality, citing a confusion between immersion and empathy.

Much furor and fuss is being made over virtual reality – but the energy and attitude towards VR is overwhelmingly positive. The most compelling consequence of these studies and experiments is the multi-layered conversation which reveals that VR is no simple subject. Virtual reality is, after all, a part of the complex chain and tradition of storytelling that dates to the beginning of culture and humanity.

web-hands

FILM AND PERFORMANCE ART 

Along with director Gabo Arora, Chris Milk and VRSE production company joined the United Nations in making the 2015 VR film Clouds Over Sidra, which tells the story of a young Syrian girl living in a refugee camp in Jordan. The film debuted in January 2015 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, making a strong emotional impact upon the audience. Based on the response to the film in Davos and elsewhere (at a fundraiser in Kuwait, the film raised 3.8 billion USD, nearly double the amount anticipated), Milk believes that VR films can change the world, connecting human beings and altering their perceptions of one another. In a March 2015 TED talk, Milk explains, “So, it’s a machine, but through this machine we become more compassionate, become more empathetic, and we become more connected, and ultimately we become more human.”

In The Machine to Be Another, an experiment run by the art collective BeAnotherLab, VR is the foundation of a live performance piece in which participants virtually exchange bodies with the performer, who mimics their movements.  The purpose of the experiment is to better understand the Self by embodying the narrative of the Other. The collective collaborates with neurologists and neuroscientists. They aim to measure empathy in their future projects.

SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE

Psychologists are also examining how effective VR is at generating empathy in viewers. The Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford Lab investigates how test subjects change their behavior after experiencing specific scenarios in virtual reality environments. Lab Manager Shawnee Baughman explains in a February 18, 2016 interview how they have found that virtual reality has the potential to positively influence test subjects’ behavior after experiencing staged scenarios in a VR environment.

In one scenario, participants became Superman and save a child lost in large city. The point of the experiment is not that the participants save the child in the VR scenario, however, but how they were more proactive and helpful to other people in their real lives in the period immediately following the video. The same principle follows with another scenario in which one test group chops down a tree in VR with a haptic device that mimics a saw, and another group chops the tree but without the haptic device. The group that uses the haptic device to “chop” the tree used 20% less paper immediately following the event in a staged, real-life water spill.

web-treetrunk

VR is not only positive in the context of its impact on human relations, but also between humanity and the earth. Jeremy Bailensen, Associate Professor of Communication at Stanford University, shares this positive outlook: “With concepts like climate change or deforestation or even pollution, we can use virtual reality to make the relationship between human behavior and the impact on the environment less abstract and more concrete.” By immersing viewers in environments in danger of destruction or industrialization, perhaps the viewer will better appreciate the need to preserve the environment and our resources. Another example we might consider is an audience experiencing the world in VR from the perspective of an animal in the endangered environment – the hope is that by sharing an intimate perspective with the animal in nature, that the viewer will develop a greater capacity to empathize with the natural world.

NUANCED SKEPTICISM

The nuances of virtual reality come to the fore in myriad questions that surround it. In his New York Times article “Want to Know What Virtual Reality Might Become? Look to the Past,” Steven Johnson suggests, rather than Milk’s all-encompassing view of virtual reality films as “empathy machines,” that virtual reality offers the possibility of different kinds of empathy: “perceptual empathy” or “sensory immersion.” It is true that empathy is aroused by our recognition of facial muscle movements, as Johnson points out, so that if we as the viewer cannot see the face of the protagonist whom we are inhabiting, then we lose this traditional key to empathizing with this person’s experience. However, we gain a sensory and immersive experience of the character whose point-of-view we inhabit. Not seeing the person’s face might make a viewer more open as their preconceived notions based on the character’s appearance will not be provoked. Even the omission of the inhabited character’s face can be played with via the use of a mirror that could “reveal” the physical identity of the character after the viewer has been immersed in their story. Additionally, we do not lose the ability to see the faces of the other people featured in the film.

Other critics, such as adjunct professor Sam Gregory of Harvard University, do not believe that virtual reality necessarily equates to empathy. Jennifer Alsever quotes Gregory: “It’s confusing immersion for empathy.” Viewers might become distanced from the subject of the VR film if it’s too violent, and virtual reality’s potential for motivating social action might instead corrode into “poverty tourism.” Meanwhile, Adi Robertson wonders in her article “The UN wants to see how far VR empathy will go” whether VR’s apparently superior effectiveness in motivating social action results not necessarily from VR’s inherent qualities, but its novelty.

Meanwhile, in her article “The Limits of Virtual Reality: Debugging the Empathy Machine,” Ainsley Sutherland points out, “This is the central critique of VR as a successful medium for ‘increasing’ empathy: that it cannot reproduce internal states, only the physical conditions that might influence that.” In response to Sutherland’s criticism, I wonder if she makes an inaccurate division between internal and external states, devaluing the impact of physical conditions on the emotions. If we can experience the physical conditions of living in a refugee camp, would the very conditions not move us, knowing that the young Syrian protagonist is living what is but a simulation for us the viewers? Additionally, the physical conditions elicited by VR can make the story lines and relationships between people within a film more intimate because we physically have the impression of being beside them, and are thus psychologically more able to identify and empathize with them. Physical and emotional conditions are more intimately connected than we might realize.

web-horse

COMPLEX POSITIVE POTENTIAL

Despite dimming the potential of virtual reality to increase empathy, such criticisms shed insight on VR’s complexity and further substantiates its potential to effect change. That VR entails a consideration of multi-layered technical, scientific, aesthetic, and theoretical perspectives evidences the vastness of VR filmmaking’s uncharted territory. Can theatre, literature, or cinema more effectively stimulate empathy in an audience for a subject’s internal state than virtual reality? To isolate virtual reality from the tradition of storytelling is simply false. VR is a continuation of the tradition of storytelling, but in a new medium. And as virtual reality filmmakers develop new tools and refine their skills, virtual reality might well evoke the same complexity of inner states as poetry. At DUTCH PICTURE INDUSTRY and VR EXPLORERS, we embrace the newest innovations and are eager to explore the possibilities of virtual reality and its potential to effect positive change in the world. We look forward to evoking empathy in our viewers for the issues and stories that we tell in our films.

03Nov

Breaking Out of the Comfort Zone

“Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a particular way… you become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions.”

  Aristotle

People are their actions, and a story is only worth telling if it is about people who act outside of their normal behavior. Entrepreneur and innovator Edwin ter Velde of Zero Waste Center is a person whose story is well worth documenting. His story is an ever-evolving effort to breach the boundary between comfort and discomfort: he is a man of focusededwintervelde action, an innovator who believes that social innovation reigns highest in the hierarchy of innovation.

“I have studied together with my old friend and cofounder of the Zero Waste Center Cees Hebing human behavior (to start with our own behaviour) and the way you can change it, and I understand that your behavior is not how you are, but how you behave. So, why is it that in companies or in people’s everyday social behavior, we are not playing with our behavior? We think that’s how we are. No, it’s an instrument you can use,” believes ter Velde.

As human beings, we can experiment with our actions to change for the better. However, most people would rather not admit that their routine behaviors are just that: routine. The opposite of innovation. Stories that no one wants to read or watch.

Ter Velde wants to rouse people from their stagnancy to experiment with actions that force them outside of their comfort zones and to transform themselves. The problem, of course, is that most people are not as comfortable as ter Velde is with questioning the routines that make up the foundation of their everyday lives.

solar voyager edwin ter velde

We’re sitting in a spacious nook in the Zero Waste Center production facility in Amsterdam-Noord, coffee in hand as 3D printers whir silently along one wall, and we chat facing the several meters high mock-up of the Solar Voyager. Ter Velde has found a way to inspire people to change their behaviors towards plastic waste, but elegantly framed in the concept of Zero Waste and in the story of the Solar Voyager Expedition.

“Talking about behavior is not a nice thing. Because people think, why are you talking about my behavior? It is uncomfortable. And I learned that if you put it in a concept that’s not directly related to yourself, but at the end it is, then it’s more comfortable ultimaker_3dprintersto talk about it and to teach people,” explains ter Velde. “And this is the reason I founded Zero Waste because throwing things away is a behavior, not respecting materials and thinking it doesn’t bother you, is also behavior. If you’re talking about the zero waste concept, then we think it is all related to waste, but after a couple steps you understand that the concept is all related to you as a person.”

EXPERIMENT IN ACTION

The Solar Voyager is a solar powered vehicle partially made of recycled plastic. For one year now, ter Velde has been collaborating with renowned adventurer Wilco van Rooijen on the Solar Voyager Expedition. He is busy all day every day working on the project.

Edwin ter Velde is a sailor, but he is not a professional explorer. Nevertheless, come December 2017 he will embark with van Rooijen on an expedition to the geographical South Pole aboard the Solar Voyager.  Their mission: to show the world that it is possible to journey to the center of Antarctica based on the concept of Zero Emission and Zero Waste.

The construction and expedition of the Solar Voyager is an experiment in behavior. Ter Velde not only wants to challenge himself to go outside his comfort zone, but he also wants to inspire people to change their behavior towards plastic waste. By creating a story and a community around the Solar Voyager Expedition and the zero waste concept, ter Velde hopes to encourage people to change their behavior by taking action to change their daily lives.

“We are showing that it’s all a matter of doing. Just do it! Stop talking about the world and sustainability and things like that. Act. Act. Directly, and that’s it,” emphasizes ter Velde.

The completed Solar Voyager will testify to ter Velde’s message of individual action and social innovation. If the Solar Voyager can make the journey to the South Pole, the most extreme climate on earth, then the expedition will set an example, challenging even the most average person to make radical changes in their daily life – to eschew comfort for the sake of preserving our environment and resources. To act, and by acting, to transform not only the world for the better, but themselves.

NOT WASTE, BUT PRECIOUS MATERIAL

The Solar Voyager will be made partially out of discarded water bottles, leftover packaging, disposable forks and spoons – what many of us regard as plastic waste. But not ter Velde, who doesn’t see plastic as waste, but as precious material that demands our respect and innovation.

“Why is it waste? Has one molecule in the material changed because you call it waste? I don’t believe that. It is still plastic, so it’s still material. In nature, everything is important. So, materials are also important. So, respect it. Take it up from the street, and let’s make the freshest thing you can imagine. Now for instance, the Solar Voyager, there’s a high added value. So, we learn – children, but also organizations, everyone – that it’s all in your mind. It’s all in your mind. We think it is waste, no it isn’t. It is material. And you can do such nice and precious things with those materials.”

At this stage, ter Velde is busy calibrating the 3D printers that will print the plastic material into pieces that will make up the body of the Solar Voyager. He hovers over his laptop, monitoring the printers. It’s easy to be swept away by the project there in front of the Solar Voyager mockup and listening to ter Velde. When he fits several plastic samples together and holds them up against the mock-up, you become infected with his fervor. And then there is still the most important aspect of the expedition to discuss: Antarctica itself.

edwin_with-hexacore

INNOVATION SHOULD BE UNCOMFORTABLE

Journeying through Antarctica will not be luxurious – it is the driest continent on earth, with low temperatures and wind speeds of 350 km/h. But for ter Velde, the physical challenge of the journey is just as important as the technical challenges: if there is no discomfort, there is no change. Living sustainably and without waste will not be comfortable.

“If you want to change, you must change your standard behavior. And that’s a difficult thing for people. We like to have a comfortable situation. But if it is comfortable, you are acting as you always have. So, if it is uncomfortable, you know that things are changing. That you are moving forward, or back. It’s just a matter of testing and seeing what it will bring. It should be uncomfortable to innovate, to make a real innovation,” believes ter Velde.

When asked why Antarctica should be the site of the Solar Voyager’s route, ter Velde replies: “It is the most extreme. It is the most unknown continent.” For if there was a continent that would host a journey meant to assimilate the goals of zero waste and radical behavioral change, it would be Antarctica.

EVERY PIECE HAS A STORY

edwinterveldeTer Velde’s strength is not only in his motivation or his ability to realize ideas, but in his storytelling. When he describes the communities of schoolchildren, or stadsjutters (or urban miners in English), and their efforts to gather discarded plastic material, he lights up. His excitement at having motivated a community of people to act, to effect change is more fervent than any other aspect of the Expedition.

He explains to me how every individual piece of the Solar Voyager will have a numbered certificate that will document the people who helped collect the plastic for that piece. “Every piece has its own story,” says ter Velde. “So, this car is very precious because the energy in all those pieces is being shown to the world.”

The story of the Solar Voyager, he tells me, isn’t about him. “I do not want to have a notation in the Guinness book of records. It’s not about me. It’s about the fact that we can create things, and we should do it all together,” says ter Velde.

Despite what he might say, ter Velde is one of the main actors in this real-life story. His drive and his energy to act drives the story of the Solar Voyager. He inspires each of us to act outside of  our comfort zones– to do. For it is only by doing that the we can transform, innovate, and grow. DUTCH PICTURE INDUSTRY believes in stories like ter Velde’s, helping him to share his story so we might accomplish our own goal to inspire people to create, to innovate, and to challenge themselves – to cross the boundary between possible and impossible.

 

Have a look yourself and be inspired by the Solar Voyager test drive.

 

 

 

 

09Jun

“Buy a phone, change the world”

I also realized how much waste is produced with all these mobile phones. As they are one of the world’s most widely used devices, their disposal contributes to tons of e-waste each year. The consequences on the environment and populations are devastating. Most of the time, our e-waste ends up in developing countries. All the minerals present in the phone spoil soils, water, air… with consequences on populations’ environment and health. As a result more minerals ,need be extracted to build new products; which means more mines and more environmental damage and exploitation of workers… an infinite circle.Schermafdruk 2016-06-09 15.47.24

In my research for a new phone…again… I discovered the Fairphone. This innovative young brand created by a Dutch company, in Amsterdam; is the first creator of an ethical phone. Fairphone already sold more than 100,000 smartphones in Europe, with that they started a new hope that their innovations can be a start for fair electronic shopping.

But what is an ethical phone like? It’s nothing more than an ordinary smartphone working on an Android system; you can call, send text, emails, take photograph, download apps… However, what differentiates this phone from others is its social responsibility, transparency, durability, recycling values at the core of the company’s work.

To reduce the impact of waste to a maximum, Fairphone has a circular view on the production of the phone. That means in the stage of design, it think of how to reuse and recycle parts of other mobile phones. As all minerals can be extracted and reused, this way they use the older phones as materials for the new ones.

In addition they raise awareness and participate in programs to reduce e-waste. And of course they are working towards the goal of using recycled materials for their future products.Schermafdruk 2016-06-09 14.21.15

Environmental and social costs of smartphones production are huge; from mining to manufacturing, transportation and wastes; all this process includes pollution and social issues (workers safety, rights…). Fairphone is pushing the limits by proving that it can be done differently and more responsibly; I hope it can give the example for others brands. Thanks to Fairphone’s transparency you know what every cents you spend are for… For example, for each Fairphone produced; 5$ are invested in a Worker Welfare Fund to enhance safety and good development of workers. You know also that they try to extract minerals (gold, tantalum, tungsten…) in conflict-free areas and are involved with NGO to tackle these problems. Indeed, most of minerals present in your phone are from Congo, an area touched by armed conflicts…Armed groups revenue are basically from minerals.Schermafdruk 2016-06-09 15.49.34
On top of that, the Fairphone is modular; changing a part of your phone is like playing with lego. If a part of your phone is broken you can easily order a new piece and replace it. Fairphone plans also to upgrade its elements, for example, if one day they commercialize a better camera or battery you just have to order this part and don’t have to buy a new phone for better performances. It is created with the intention of durability and not only selling you a product. This is an innovative idea.

Good news is that other brands are already following Fairphone´s example. Google is developing its modular phone: Ara, built to last. As Legos, you can build your own personal phone. This phone is still in development but it can be promising if these kinds of innovations became the new normal in electronic market.Schermafdruk 2016-06-09 16.02.01

But then, what justify the price of a smart phones? Nice design? Cool brand? A big screen?.. There is no other company that is paying for the environmental damage that they cause. The last version of the Fairphone can compete easily with smartphone of this price range in term of performances. So the only justification that I see is that those other brands are just looking for more profit by so-called innovations in performances, design but nothing concerning the production process. Can we accept that?

Fairphone’s goal is not only to commercialize a new phone.“Start a movement” and “Join the community” are its motto. So what movement are we talking about? Which community?

A part of the population is aware of all these sustainable issues and cannot just accept it. This community believes of our power as simple consumer. The way we consume can also be a way to express ourselves by supporting positive initiatives and boycotting others. And obviously, it has power, if more and more people behave in this way, brands won’t have other choice to change their behaviors and strategies.

Being part of this “community” for me is a way to show I disapprove the behavior of ordinary brands… I want to be part of the people who don’t follow new trends because it’s cool but care about the way they are made and is willing to make things change…

Even though it is not the cheapest, I decided to join the movement and buy one. I believe in the positive changes that responsible purchase can have. Supporting this initiative meant 3 months with no phone. As a start-up who chose to not commercialize its phones in a normal circuit. They produce their phone according to orders and only through internet. Victim of it success, there was a 3 month-delay when I ordered it… But thanks to Fairphone, during these 3 months I realized how much we were connected to our phones but also how easy and liberating it was to live without being connected all the time…

Finally, when you decide to buy your Fairphone don’t forget to recycle your last phone, you can even earn money from it!

26May

Who do you see when you look in the mirror?

Posted byBlogTagged awareness, data, future, innovation367 Comments

The Mirror room is making you aware of all the data you produce. Who owns all this data, and are we able to reclaim them? The Mirror room is part of the FabCity in Amsterdam, a temporary sustainable urban area, where young creative’s present their solutions for current urban issues.

The panel says: ‘’Examine and experience the pros and cons of our data-based life, and the effects on your privacy, social interaction, health and security.’’ This innovative Mirror installation offers you a whole new experience on what it feels like to become data.

When you enter, you type in your name; then you have to stand in the middle of the room. You are surrounded by mirrors and I felt strange not knowing what would happen next. An electronic voice welcomed me by my name and then begins by giving my physical details: my age, my weight, my height, and my heart pulsations, my BMI while some images are projected on the mirrors…

The next step is kind of surprising, hearing an AI talking to me reminds me of the movie “Her”: where people start building relationships with Artificial Intelligence. I had the feeling of entering the future. Still standing, alone in the middle of the room, a succession of simulations and animations, are scrolling around you. Immerse you in a strange atmosphere, one that I never experienced before. At this point, I still didn’t know what’s the purpose of all of this until the electronic voice came back to me and give me my “data profile”. Before leaving the room, the voice asked me if I agreed to make my data public or not… I had to answer by looking at the YES or at the NO.

The computers in the room registered all my emotions during all the experience and transformed them into data. It analyzed my physical data, tested my fear, my preferences… and established a profile that was handed out in print while exiting the room. So, who do you see when you look into the mirror? There is a difference between what you perceive and what you are. The experience makes you realize that WE ARE DATA : there is your reflection, who you think you are but it makes you realize you are also an infinite composition of data.

Well, the program is still experimental and not totally accurate but the purpose of what is called an “art experience“ by its creators is to make us realize how collecting selling and using data, even if we’re not aware of it, can have a profound impact on our personal and professional life.

Indeed, while more and more applications are capable to analyze our physical condition and emotions, imagine the infinite possibilities that could give. All depend on who has access to our data and what are our rights on them? Governments, companies could have some advantages to use our data…

Brands could also use our emotional data on a marketing purpose… Reading our emotions is becoming the next challenge for brands as emotions represent a huge factor in the decision-making process… And thanks to data collection they would be able to build algorithms to predict customers preferences and likelihood of purchasing from their emotions.

It’s already happening, recently Belgium police advised not use Facebook’s new reactions buttons as they consider it as a new way for Facebook to use your profile on a marketing purpose. With more information about your mood, reactions, emotions, it’s easier for advertisers to reach you at the right moment and at the right emplacement. By creating algorithms that could make calculations on your mood, considering your reaction to a post. However, the technology could be use in a positive sense too. As applications could analyze in an early stage a disease and suggest a cure. It could determine easily your skin or heart conditions…

The most important is that we keep the right to control our own data and to be aware of who and when they are used. Privacy regulations are becoming more and more essential and urgent in this world where all are data have the possibility to become public.

‘People should realize how collecting, selling and using data even if they don’t know this is happening, can have a profound impact on their personal and professional life.’WAD_headerimage_x-460x290

http://europebypeople.nl/we-are-data

 

12May

Nuit Debout

But once, you cross borders and discover different cultures, meet people with different backgrounds and origins, you suddenly realize that these problems are not reserved to your country but are the same everywhere. And everybody is doing the same, blaming their governments… But what if it is not our national government that we should blame, but something more global? And what if the solutions to these problems don’t lie in the hand of our governments but in our hands? As citizen of a country or citizen of the world.

Six weeks ago, a citizen movement called “Nuit Debout” (Up all Night), was born in France. This movement was born spontaneously after demonstrations against a new law changing the labour code. From then, the movement took more and more importance in the whole country; at least that what I thought. However, following this kind of events is quite complicated; an interpretation can be radically different from media to another. So how to get informed? What is really happening in these nightly sessions in Paris?

Thanks to Periscope, I could follow in live some of the general meetings organized on the Place of the Republic. Periscope is new mobile application, considered as social media, like twitter, facebook and instagram. It allows users to broadcast in live what they are filming. During the first nights of Nuit Debout some random participants decided to broadcast. Since then periscope broadcast took more and more importance. As a consequence, in addition to the thousands of people present on the Place of the Republic; tens of thousands people were following the events in live. And participated…

Thanks to Periscope I could see with my own eyes and make my own judgement from abroad. Periscope has become what twitter and facebook meant for the Arab spring. It enabled young people to gather and share information. Information diffusion is no longer reserved for specialized media. Everybody can participate, present or abroad.

Man and woman hand capturing Manhattan sunset skyline with smartphone

So I witnessed some people with real claims and a willingness to change the political system. Immigration, education, economy, women rights, freedom were some of the claims during these meetings. All of these people don’t necessarily have the same political ideas or claims but I could feel that they were gathered around the same willingness of a more democratic system and the need to feel united with other citizen without any political claim (I mean no political color).
However, in media I could read totally different statements depreciating the movement: it was not a spontaneous movement but something organized by left-hand parties; outbreak of violence; no real claims; young idiots… In most of French media we can read anything that can discredit the movement. Most of political figures also denigrate it. Media supporting the movement exist but are really rare and not followed by the most. Consequently, having a proper judgement on this new phenomenon touching my country is not an easy task. Who is right? Media? Politics? Demonstrators? All these channels of diffusion, all different point of views make it confusing…

But I think that, in the end, the real purpose of this movement is or, at least, should be to call into question the global neoliberalism in function since the end of WWII. This system had its glory time but repetitive crisis prove that it’s certainly not adapted to the world anymore: climate change, wars, extreme poverty, growing inequalities… those are new stakes that this system struggle to handle. Traditional political parties are not willing to change how things work to face those issues, in hand with big corporations they keep running the world on the same model, driven by economic profit and growth. But we can feel the change from the population, the way people vote… Growing abstinence or vote for “untraditional” parties or candidates prove that citizens have enough of the current picture. Podemos in Spain, Syriza in Greece, Front National in France or Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the United States. All these examples illustrate radically different values and point of views. But for me, they are all some ways to contest established system and its failures; they are just blaming different persons and causes each time…

What about the future of Nuit Debout? I see interesting points : the movement is still up after more than six weeks. It doesn’t have any official political etiquette; this confirms the spontaneity of the movement and makes it a real citizen movement. Indeed, if the movement last and grows I wish it can be an opportunity to give more voice to citizens in certain political choices.  It could lead to the creation of a citizen assembly where random people can have a word to say in political decisions at local, national and international scales. This assembly could bring environmental and social issues in the centre of political decisionmaking.

I hope the movement is keeping its independence. That it is not adpoted by other exsisting political parties or the creation of a new political party. For me, Nuit Debout is a social movement. It is the only way to disrupt the established order, that has reigned for so long. To finally bring on the table new priorities like sustainability, well-being of people on public debates instead of issues like economic growth…

However, it didn’t succeed to be popular in public opinion… Is this media’s fault or does it come from the movement itself? Hard to tell from where I am. Maybe it´s because it has been stigmatized as an extreme left movement, violence had been highlighted in media, which is inherent to every social movement… I keep thinking that it was a really interesting initiative as I believe that from now on, citizens should have more and more voice in public debates. Nuit Debout proved that it is possible to gather people in order to make things change. Besides, it´s also an opportunity for bottom-up initiatives in which I put a lot of hope to build the future of our societies rather than a change from politics. Public debates make people share ideas and suggestions on how to make the changes that they want to see which can lead to concrete outcomes.13124500_1723604831250746_6452921741869702302_n

And now they are calling for its internationalization “Global Debout” is launched. Calling people to gather in all places of the world on the 15th of May. Like Yanis Varoufakis (former finance minister of Greece) with DIEM25 (for Democracy in Europe Movement 2025), Nuit Debout is willing to bring together people for a common cause regardless of borders. Nobody knows how those projects will evolve but it is still, an interesting phenomenon to follow . Thanks to this Global calling I have finally the opportunity to participate to it and see concretely what it will be about here in Amsterdam.

09May

Cities of tomorrow

Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Berlin,Budapest… Have you ever lived in or visited one of these cities? If you have, I’m sure you could feel the motion. These European cities are ahead of the world when it comes to innovation and ideas to build more sustainable cities.

This is not only about infrastructures but people also seem happier! For example, it’s clear that riding a bike to work in a city with fresh air (like in Amsterdam or Copenhagen) is much more pleasant than spending hours in traffic jams in a polluted city!  These cities reflect the necessity of our societies to change. Environmental issues, social and economic crises are currently affecting the world. With a constantly increasing urban population (54% of the population live in urban area, +2% per years)); it’s time for cities to work about tomorrow urban life. Because it’s now clear that we won’t be able to feed, house, provide energy to everyone in the future with our current system.

Hopefully, innovative people are working every day to build better cities. For example, you can visit the Fabcity (“Together we make the city of tomorrow”) in Amsterdam; walking in there feels like a preview of how our future cities will look like… In this little “village” you can find people working on the project of today; for tomorrow, to make sustainable cities. Now that we know that we are running out of many resources, climate change is already here… Urban garden, tiny houses, clean energy, electric cars represent the new face of our cities… Clean and self-sufficient. Moreover, well-being and happiness of the population is at the core of this transition!fabcity house

Besides, to build these new cities, new forms of economy and politic are needed. Today, innovative solutions come more and more from citizens like you and me, innovation is becoming independent from big companies and governments. We can talk about bottom-up initiatives, initiatives that come from citizens or group of citizens and integrate the economy and system then. This gives independence to communities; circular economy is at the core. Economy that produces no waste and pollution, recycle and reuse everything, with a preference for local production and consumption; on their way to become the “new normal”. Soon, we can imagine that cities will become self-sufficient. Are we slowly going away from this globalised system?friendly green production in Fabcity

Visiting this Fabcity was so inspiring and motivating as I felt totally comfortable in this atmosphere: engineers was working next to people building houses or people gardening in the same purpose of making a community live sustainably while I could enjoy drinking a soda in the sun at the “local café”.

In this transition, social ties are more important than before which contribute to the happiness of a society as a reflection of solidarity and mutual aid: peer-to-peer and local consumption tighten link between people. Economic crisis and political distrust make us look at each other to find solutions.

Besides, with solar,wind energy, urban gardening, it’s clear that we are tightening our links with  nature…and maybe those changes was what missing to our modern societies to make the world better. Indeed, that’s maybe something that was forgotten during last centuries, growing individualism made us forget the name of our neighbours and industrialisation with mass consumption made us forget where our food was coming from. And that’s why I felt so comfortable visiting this Fabcity, because we can imagine that in the future it will be like that: people working for their community.

Population is growing fast, climate change is more and more visible, so we have to act now! Hopefully, when we see how fast innovation and technology are evolving, we can only be optimistic about the future of our cities and societies! However, there is still a long way to go before this transition impacts the whole world, but it has to start somewhere!

A long term challenge based on short terms action.

Visit https://citiesintransition.eu/ to stay aware about these European cities in transition.

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