The path leading to Paradise

My life has known many unusual turns, taking me all over the world. I have worked on incredible projects with the most inspiring people from all corners of the planet. I don’t fit easily in one box. When someone asks me the seemingly easy question “what do you do?”, it’s difficult for me to give them a straight up answer. I usually refer to myself as a Polymath, a learner. There’s no rhyme nor rhythm to my resume, but I see now that everything prepared me for the place where I am now. Through an exchange program I was able to follow a minor in Social Design, Branding and Management at Parsons The New School for Design in New York, which gave me the opportunity to receive top of the bill education while experiencing what it is like to live in Brooklyn for 2 years. After that I found my temporary home in Berlin for 4 years, which is still the urban place where I feel most comfortable. For a city that is.

For most of my professional career I’ve worked in the music, advertising and film industry as project manager, concept developer, brand strategist, researcher, program director and production manager. After years of persuading the prevailing institutional powers, I finally received a diploma from the University of Amsterdam that honored me with the title of Bachelor of “the flexible degree program” since I had refused to stick to a prescribed curriculum. Needless to say that in the years I worked for clients like Nike, Red Bull, Heineken, Appelsap Fresh Music Festival, Mindpirates and Halal, no one ever asked for that piece of official paper. An inevitable return to my beloved Amsterdam introduced me to the circular economy which allowed me to work as eco-manager on the filmset and to co-design a program for a cradle-to-cradle business park at Schiphol Business park which connected big players in the construction industry with innovators on grassroots level.

My personal interest in exploring new ways of food production and food consumption, or consumptive behaviour in general, had increased over the years. I realised that if I wanted to contribute myself to a more sustainable world, I felt it was my role to lead by example and in order to contribute to positive change, I had to change my own way of life. I studied Permaculture design principles, designed cradle-to-cralde production chains and started to look into ways of applying my acquired skills to agriculture practices. After 10 years of research and experience, in 2015 I strongly felt it was time to make a move.

All we need is less

I sold my apartment in Amsterdam and most of my belongings to take on the project I had been excitedly waiting for. One of the underlaying thoughts to move was that I didn’t want to spend my money any longer on large corporations which I view as the most evil institutions on this planet. It was an ambitious one, but it felt the right time for another good challenge. I decided to start with the obvious things like providing in my own food, energy, water; building an ecological sound, yet awesome looking and comfortable house and work my way up from there. Another reason was that I wanted to enjoy life as it’s meant to be. I was longing to escape the density of the city and ready to embrace good tasting food, fresh mountain air, waterfall showers, animals to cuddle, bon fire conversations, beautiful sunsets and excellent adventures. By September 2015, me and my furry friend Fausto moved into our campervan and walked into the unknown.

A month later I crossed the border of Spain and Portugal, not knowing where I would settle or what my future would look like. Somehow I was drawn to an area on the foothills of the Serra de Estrella mountain range. In the first few days upon my arrival in Portugal, I met a Dutch real estate lady who gave me the coordinates of some places for sale. As soon as I arrived at the first place, I was overwhelmed by beauty and a warm embrace. It immediately felt like home, but a voice in me tried to convince me this was too good to be true. I promised myself to visit at least 10 other places, but none of them compared. Four short months later I found myself the owner of 2ha paradise land which provides me with all the resources I hoped and asked for. Plenty of water, biodiversity, stunning views, shaded areas, lifelong firewood, natural building materials, healthy fertile soil, worm heaven, south facing, tropical micro climates, a like minded community and various opportunities to legally build structures. During those months I was often drawn to a corner in the oak and cherry forest. Not a very special corner, so I could not figure out why every cell in my body wanted me to pay attention. Looking back, it was obvious I was supposed to live in The Birdhouse for my first year on the land.

It’s incredible how everything in this one year process has been smooth, peaceful and effortless. Waking up to an infinite amount of new discoveries is the most exciting thing and makes every day a joyful one. I’ve received so much love and support from friends and strangers, 1000s of miles away and those next door, for which I am incredibly grateful and also didn’t allow me to feel lonely for one minute. It proves me once more that separation is an illusion. Over the past year I have unlocked many new doors and every time I entered one I received pure magic and hidden treasures in return. Now the house and amenities are taken care of, the next phase is starting to take shape: Establishing the farm to provide a variety of organic food and medicine in harmony with nature and all it’s living beings and building more off grid accommodation for visitors and friends with the natural resources locally available to us.

Semidomesticated has captured my journey and luxury life in the woods in the most beautiful way, which you can read here.

Happiness as business model

I’ve never felt comfortable with rigid hierarchies and formal settings. Dynamic interactions in an informal environment are more my thing. I am looking to collaborate with drivers of change and cultural creatives in the field of design, architecture, media, business, development, engineering and science who are bringing in ideas and skills from other sectors different than agriculture or conventional building. I am looking for those who master failure, those who strive for excellence, those who have a multidimensional view on life and those who are not afraid to show their perfect imperfections.

I am a strong believer in E=MC2 and universal law. Therefore I would love to infuse this project with a colorful ray of love, joy, happiness and good vibes. I don’t think money is evil, to me it’s just another form of energy exchange and if used with the right intentions no harm will be done and only good stuff comes out. In my approach aesthetic, ecological, social and economical decisions won’t be compromised for each other but equally valued in the decision making process. Collaboratively I want to move beyond function and form and focus on the meaning we create and the experience we produce. For me design in the 21st century is about responsible design, it is socially and environmentally conscious. If you like to contribute, collaborate or have another brilliant idea, hit me up through Facebook or Email.

Wanna be my neighbour?

Do you believe more freedom comes through independence from corporations and you are therefore drawn to provide in your own basic needs and share the surplus with others? Are you determined to restore our eco-system by transforming land into lush habitat? Are you interested in building a carbon positive off-grid home with natural, renewable, locally sourced resources? Are you driven by optimism and solutions, no matter what the external world is reflecting back at you? Do you honor your authenticity, but love to collaborate with like minded people near by? Are you not afraid of money, but put priority on people and planet? Do you have an entrepreneurial mindset and a bit of magic on your sleeve? If yes, there’s possibly a piece of paradise waiting for you in the valley here.

A lot of land here is abandoned and for sale, but in my town most people don’t use estate agents, they rather speak to me. It’s cheaper to buy straight off the locals. Me and my wonderful German neighbors Frank & Christina, who are excellent natural farmers, would like to have a few more people around with a similar goal and hopefully additional skills so we can become even more efficient.

In the valley there are beautiful farms for sale. It’s peaceful and quiet there but still in walking distance to the village and cafe’s. The farms of which I traced the owners are approximately 1 ha, have a ruin on it, natural water source, established fruit, nut and/or deciduous trees, good sun exposure, access track (4x4 required) and provide in stunning views. The asking prices range between 20-25k euro(negotiable of course). If you are interested drop me a line or two.

Love is all there is

This project couldn’t have seen the light without the loving support in a multitude of energy exchanges over the years and in every moment from:

Juul, Bernie, Grootvader, Oma Frankrijk, Hidde, Easton, Anette, Sacha, Andre, Shamiro, Saartje, Hein, Dave, Sonya, Nina, Amber, Bas, Zonne, Yindi, Rob, Mariette, Rolien, Joost, Arion, Baris, Zazie, Floor, Amy, Felix, Gaika, Antaeus, Nima, Nico, Rogier, Wiecher, Koos, Joris, Kim, Gijs, Roel, Gijs, Brigitte, Jasmijn, Esther, Amaro, Sara, Thomas, Froukje, Eeva, Vera, Marieke, Monique, Andrea, Hans, Kate, Laura, Ben, Heleen, Joao, Clare, Rafa, Mona, Peter, Alex, Jude, Niko, Wendy, Paul, Danny, Tom, Heather, Martyn, Anne, Jake, Dave, Ali, Jude, Frank, Christina, Sarah, Sari, Fausto, Falkor the Luckdragon, Fuxi and Nywa.

In January 2017 I launched a crowdfunding campaign to seek financial support for the next phase of establishing the community farm. I was very touched by the generous donations and loving support of those believing in my project, me and a sustainable future for all:

Kaya, Rozie, Berthine, Desmond, Kim, Sari, Juul, Amber, Bas, Esther, Sebastiaan, Nova, Joris D., Magda, Yu Lan, Joris B., Linda, Sacha, Annelie, Mara Lina, Saartje, Hein, Liedewij, Monique, Floor, Bear, Judith, Halal Amsterdam, Brigitte, Gijs D., Gilles, Vera, Froukje, Celia, Livia, Semidomesticated, Easton, Kevin, Anette, Klein & West, Marieke, Koos, Kubi, Wiecher, Rosa, Appelsap Fresh Music Festival, Baris, Atakan, Roel, Lisa, Dirkje, Gijs K. and Roos.

Bless you. Always & forever.