Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Stichting Sophia - Art in Utrecht

Since I am back from Armenia I got myself interested in the art scene in Utrecht (well I was interested in it before, but never came to explore it). This city I live in is surprisingly rich in places and galeries for artists to develop themselves.
One initiative in particular i would like to mention: Stichting Sophia/Sophie's Palace (in Dutch). This organization tries to create the conditions under which artists can be fully creative. This means not only to provide artists with studio's to work in, but to create a flourishing cultural climate in which artists can meet, can get inspired by others, can work together in projects and to show their work to a broader public.
One of their projects (through which i got to know them) is 'de Toren van Babel' . In a former municipal building the Toren van Babel is created, for at least the coming two years. From the outside it looks very boring and ugly, but once you are inside its an inspiring place with many artists, from all different backgrounds (painting, photography, graphic designing etc.) and even small enterprises run by one person. They are all mixed in the same rooms, tables criss-cross everywhere. Everytime there are new exhibitions and concerts. It's a great meetingplace and workingplace for artists and everyone interested in art (and even the ones who arent) should take a look. Besides this there is a nice restaurant/cafe where you can get Dutch and Moroccan food. Everyone should come and take a look!

De Toren van Babel is also accomodating No Borders. This is an EVS-sending organization, sending young people away to other European countries to do volunteering projects with support from the EU. See my previous posts on EVS here and here. This organization might give me the chance to exhibit my own photoexhibition i previously showed in Yerevan, during my EVS. About that more in future I hope.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Another next phase in my life!

I've not been so active on my blog recently. I was working and working and yeah sleeping sometimes, and such an activity makes one very tired, especially when the job is not the job you want to end up with. So I started looking for other jobs. And now I can tell you all the very exciting news:

I've got a new job!

Yesterday I heard I can start as management assistent at IDEA-NL. This is the 'International Debate Education Association' and as they write on their website they are 'focusing on young people and their communities [...] to promote mutual understanding and democracy globally by supporting discussion and active citizenship locally'. 'IDEA places particular emphasis on those societies where democracy is in its infancy and where negotiated resolution to conflicts and cross-community dialogue are little-established concepts'.'IDEA believes that free and open discussion is essential to the establishment and preservation of open, democratic societies. Through debate - a powerful means of encouraging critical thinking, personal expression and tolerance for the opinions of others, IDEA provides students and teachers the opportunity to examine issues affecting their lives and their communities.'

I am very excited and am looking forward to start, especially since we have to build up this organization from nothing (in the netherlands that is, IDEA is already active in many countries) and I will be able to also focus me on project development (besides the more administrational tasks).

Definitely will let you know more about it in future.
Now first I should shut up and sign my contract before saying anything more :)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Municipal Election Day

Election day it was!

I am watching the results on TV now and slowly it becomes clear that people have openend their eyes. People have voted against all three right-wing parties that are in government now. Unfortunately this is only the municipal elections, but it is a positive sign that people finally came to the conclusion that this government should be stopped in the things it's doing. I am a happy person to see that not everyone lost their mind. I hope this will lead to politics not focused on making people scared, but focused on a social, civil society.
And maybe I can be proud of my own country again. Can't wait till the next national elections!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Big brother is watching us...

Since september 11th the world has changed in such a rapid speed. Since september 11th we all got the American attitude of believing in the existence of 'big evil' and the ability and necessity of destroying this evil to protect the bigger good: the western way of life, the so called democracy. We'll fight the terrorists, ow these bastards, and then there will be world peace forever.
Amen.

So since september 11th the world has changed. The world has changed into one big place where everyone is scared of each other, scared of something that we can only call by name as terrorism, while if we have to explain what exactly it is, we can't. We live in a time where there is mass fear for the unknown threat. And the governments know this and use this fear for changing systems 'in order to protect this crowd' but really hey, how much more secure are we? For example: This week we can read in the Dutch newspapers that the Dutch government started setting up a database of all different kinds of information about all Dutch citizens, in order to be able to check details of everyone at any time. This way the Dutch government will know everything about you, there will be no privacy left. Another example is the soon to be introduced public transport card, where the Dutch railways will be able to follow your complete route from day to day.

I hear people say: I don't mind if people know everything about me, because I have nothing to hide. But, shouldnt we be much more afraid of our governments controlling our lives than those terrorists who, if they wouldnt hypocrytical be treated as 'evil' but as 'citizens of this world', maybe wouldn't be so active in blowing up themselves. What is terrorism and who are terrorists? Maybe we need a new definition of these words, because this American imposed definition onto the rest of the world makes me sick. I don't believe in evil, I only believe that someone will fight when threatened in the way he is living and believing by someone who is forcing him to believe and live the same way he does. Democracy building is not done in some years with military pressure, but is a process of decades and even centuries...
Are we not naive believing that our government will only do good? It is nice to know we trust our government here in The Netherlands so much that we are willing to share all our secrets with it, but only a short look into this world makes us discover that our government might be one of the few left we can trust..but..for how long...The power of companies get stronger every day and these companies, aiming for profits, will only be very happy with our detailed personal information.
I don't want a database with all my information, a goverment that knows everything about me, at any time. This is my personal life and I don't believe this to be a good method, like the 'war on terrorism'. Apparently we have lots of money for all these kind of things. Shouldnt we start focussing us on the roots of the problem, by putting money in the milliniumgoals of the UN, spreading money equally in this world, so there is no reason to fight.
We will even protect our privacy this way.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Life with order

Nothing better than a life with order.
I know exactly how long it is to bike from my home to my work. 15 minutes to bike, 3 minutes to get into the office and take my seat. I have the best seat of the room, so with the best possible view over the whole officefloor. I am a lucky bastard.
I know how many windows the builing on the other side of the street has. How many plants our office has. How many paperclips are in front of my nose. I know how many people are working in the office and what each of them likes to drink and to eat. I am listening to the answers of my colleagues to questions of customers on the other side of their black headsets. It's amazing how much one can learn in just 5 working days about credit cards and commissionprices and about how to answer in a polite manner while within you questions arise about the stupidness of that particular client, or well of mankind in general. 'No question is too stupid to ask', until the client on the other side is gone and the rest of the officeroom is informed about this crazy person. Everyone is laughing. I love the jokes, ow how i love these jokes in offices.
Ah lunchtime. Time for discussing the tv-shows of the previous evening. How stupid of me to have missed America's Next Top Model..I knew I should have prepared myself for this..Back to work..
I know what button to push in which program, even after only 5 days. I am a mircale, a mysteriously intelligent person, probably from a different planet. Stretching my arms, getting some more hot water (yup my personal favourite. Tea from a so called coffeemachine tastes like, yup, coffee. Bring some teabags with you in some different flavours and your day cannot be more perfect), visiting a toilet every now and then to flush away all the hot water again..Ow it keeps a person busy. Looking at the clock (ow no! started looking at it too early ..rule: once you look at the clock, it will never get any later). And then, after a million hours of more working (waiting), you know you can go back to your own life. After those 15 minutes of biking ofcourse...


Life that ends again the next morning at 7:30, when the alarmclock wakes you from your dreams of your perfect world.

Ah..Nothing better than a life with order. Adventure and Excitement can never be good for your heart anyway.

How I wish I could always do whatever I liked doing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

New job...

It looks like my life is only about thinking about civil society issues..this is not the case.

Yesterday I started a new job..It is not the job I want in life. It is definitely not the job I want. After 9,5 months of doing what I really really like: travelling, working at BEM, meeting people from everywhere and coming back, having the time to make future project plans...Then it is really hard to face reality: to get back to having a job and being too tired to be creative and make plans. Sigh..

I told myself I didnt want a simple, stupid administrational job any more. I want to do something I enjoy. I am capable of doing so much more than in this stupid job! During my time in Armenia I found out what exactly it is I like doing: the things I did at BEM..being creative, in an international, NGO environment, with young people, trying to develop civil society. Really, not only I miss my friends in Armenia, I also miss my job, the things I did (and all the things we planned but never came to realize).

And now, there I am: just returned from my second brain destroying day at work. Where are my dreams, my promises to never do this kind of job again..

Monday, February 13, 2006

Municipal elections, 7th of March

How great is it to live in a house full with students. Every day I still enjoy having those intellectual fellows around, because yeah they encourage your brains to stay on that great intellectual level you have during your studies. These discussions keep you awake and active, fighting for a better society, talking about 'what should we do differently, so to make a change..and most of all: we CAN make a change..and: Lets DO it!!'
Right after my graduation, summer 2003, I was scared I would loose these opportunities to have discussions about anything anytime (hours and hours, during the night..ofcourse with some refreshing beer or some brainstimulating vodka (yeah we know that stuff). We are going to change the world. Yeah!

Ok ok, I am being cynical again.

I do have discussions in my house. It is not that people are not interested in having discussions. (ever wondered why a plughole has two holes? (well in The Netherlands that is)). And I really much appreciate these conversations.
What I do miss, and I have pointed it out in a previous post about wasting, is the awareness of people about their own behaviour. And to put it in a more positive perspective: their ability to make a change in this world. I am a person who still believes that change can happen, as long as you are actively playing a role in realizing it.

People seem to have lost their faith in their ability to make changes. Where are the people that are not only complaining, but also actually trying to make a change? Where are the people that really care what is going on in this society? We do talk about it, but don't do anything...

Reason for this post is because I have not encountered one single person these last days that was thinking about going to vote for the municipal elections on tuesday 7th of march. They all say: it is useless anyway and also that they don't know anything about it. They sit back and say: the politcal parties are not even letting me know what their plans are..well let them first tell me what their plans are.

Ok then my answer is: when you choose for a democracy, you, as a citizen, as a part of this democracy, should go and vote. Not voting is undermining democracy. When you don't want to vote, then vote for nothing (blank vote). And if you don't know what to vote: You don't have to wait to get information you know, you can be an active citizen and go and find out the information you need for making your vote. Democracy requires active citizens.

Therefor I would like to present a link to information about the coming elections in Utrecht. You can find everything you need on this site :). Be inspired about all the local events you can finally show your opinion about by voting for a party. How great is that!