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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

 

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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