In Love with a Greek Mountain

In October 2016 I have fallen in love with a Greek mountain, Mount Parnonas in the Peleponnese. Everybody who knows me a little is familiar with the fact that I have been in the Blue Economy and sustainable development since 2013. Now that I have met this mountain, I just feel that this mountain and deep blue sea deserve better. Together with its people, the Greek mountain deserves to be developing in a sustainable way. Mount Parnonas houses 24 villages, but most of them are deserted. The region is rather unspoiled and is part of Natura 2000, but it has large problems as well. We have never been taught how to gain value in line with nature. We immediately think big, industrial and spoil things.

Meraki People

The Meraki People, with Christiana Gardikioti as a driving force, have a dream to do it different. Around the themes food, fabric and health they started business activities and education on learning from nature. However, community building is not easy in a country with such financial troubles. Competition is a more logical first impulse than cooperation. But still this is what we are doing here.

Regenerative Agriculture

In May 2017 I went back to the Greek mountain with my Blue Economy friend Ayumi Matsuzaka. We discovered the riches of the loquat tree, along with giving workshops in terra preta. Also, we planted the first mental seeds for regenerative agriculture and water management. Systemic designs came out of our pens, we talked to lots of people, at the same time explaining all the opportunities. And we had fun together and built relationships. O, how I wish for the Meraki People to start their sustainable businesses and regenerate their mountain and sea in the process!

ayumi matsuzaka

Ayumi Matsuzaka giving workshop terra preta

loquat tree

The 15 opportunities of a loquat tree, a valuable asset growing in normal backyards!

And of course anyone with great ideas is welcome to be part of this process. The Meraki People (business with a heart) are big enough for all of us who have heart for Mount Parnonas and its inhabitants.

Cluster Economy – Generating Value

A cluster economy is an economy in which the maximum profit for one company is not deciding. It is the optimum for the system that is the main drive. By using each others rest streams and adding value to all products in the system the total profit (for people planet and business) will be maximized if we keep the proceeds local.

One month ago about twenty invited people from several European countries came together in Austria to discuss Blue Economy and its progress in Europe. Training by Prof. Gunter Pauli and Dr. Martin Zsifkovits, three universities present (Munich, Pècs and Turin) and a lot of insight and I must say: also a lot of fun!

System Dynamics

The main focus of our training was the quantification of qualitative systems design and understanding the concept of cluster economy. How do you convince policy makers with facts that a specific local system will achieve the desired results with regard to wellbeing, job creation and economic value?

In a Blue Economy the advantages of the economic system are achieved by:

  • defining boundaries
  • having a clear intention of what you want the system to achieve
  • creating value with everything that is available in the system
  • keeping the money inside the system, instead of letting it flow out
  • using the diversity of the community
  • entrepreneurship. Just do it.

The quantification is done with the help of system dynamics. As an example we visited the region of Güssing in Austria, where local energy production has kept millions inside the community and created many jobs. Cluster economy pur sang. We discussed in detail the cases of Las Gaviotas in Colombia and El Hierro in Spain where resilient communities have been built with what is locally available.

Stone Paper

We worked on interesting business cases, such as 3D sea farming and stone paper. Furthermore, we looked at renewable energy production and being connected into a profitable system. Over dinner we discussed the projects in the several European countries: France, Greece, Sweden, Croatia, The Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Hungary and Belgium. We had fun and made new friends.

I went home with a full brain and an uplifted spirit. Now it is time to share the knowledge in our Dutch Blue Economy community. Let’s see how we can strengthen our own cases. That will happen the week after next in BlueCity. We can create this sustainable future, so let’s do it together.

In BlueCity a cluster economy will be created in the form of an urban farming hub in Rotterdam. Tropicana, the tropical swimming paradise at the edge of the city will be transformed to house 50 companies whose rest streams will be connected and value will be added.

On May 25, I will be speaking at the (sold out) Kennisfestival in Deventer. So if you already have a ticket, come and meet me…

Ontdekking van Groningen

In november 2013 werd de eerste stap gezet in de Ontdekking van Groningen. En wat voor een stap: een megasprong! Een dag na het debat met Gunter Pauli, Jan Rotmans en Aard Groen was het tijd voor voeten in de modder en aan de slag. Tientallen Groningers van allerlei pluimage namen deel aan de brainstormsessie met Gunter Pauli. Problemen werden in kaart gebracht, uitgeplozen en groter gemaakt. Daarnaast werd gekeken naar alles wat lokaal aanwezig is: van kolencentrale tot universiteit, van creatieve ontwerpers tot boeren. Tenslotte is de filosofie van de Blauwe Economie dat we in basisbehoeften voorzien met dat wat lokaal aanwezig is. En dat is altijd meer dan iedereen denkt.

Alle problemen en nuttige waarden werden opgeschreven, waarna Gunter er als een ware alchemist goud van maakte. Hij legde verbanden die niemand voorheen zag en kwam tot eens tuk of dertig business cases. Zes van deze cases werden geadopteerd door de aanwezige groep en zijn nu verder in ontwikkeling.


Dit zijn:

  • Smart chemistry; waarin afvalstromen door middel van slimme chemie hun voedingstoffen prijsgeven
  • Alg-chemie; waarin de kolencentrale een rol gaat spelen om van Groningen een grote algenproducent te maken
  • Waardappelen; waarin aardappelschillen hun gewicht in goud waard worden
  • Tower of Power; waarin een watertoren de hoofdrol speelt
  • De Leefkamer; waarin alle groepen van de samenleving hun plek vinden en elkaar versterken
  • De Zwammerij; waarin paddenstoelen op koffiedrab worden geteeld en gezonde voedingswaarde centraal staat

Wordt vervolgd…