I have a strong desire to contribute to society and the environment, which has led me to do a lot of volunteer work in the past. I founded Foodsharing in Wageningen, worked for various charities, and contributed in many other ways.
However, volunteering does not pay the bills, so I had to borrow extra while studying to cover my living expenses. This despite volunteer work being valuable for society. As a student of the "pech generatie" in the Netherlands under the "leenstelsel" system, I already missed out on the grant ("basisbeurs") that previous and subsequent generations received and had to borrow the full amount. Additionally, I was denied several other allowances due to my student status.
While volunteering, I also discovered that not all charities are as noble as they seem. Some appear to have hidden agendas and may even be driven by financial goals. In some instances, NGOs even appear to use incorrect information. Matters are often more complex than they are portrayed, and proposed solutions may not be realistic or feasible for everyone. Consequences often appear to be overlooked, and there are often multiple solutions to a problem, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. This means that one solution may not be suitable for everyone and all situations.
This aspects made me very cautious and critical about charities and volunteer work. I decided to refrain from any activities that aim to tell people what to do as I feel that everyone has to find the solution that works for him or herself. Now, I focus on resolving the arisen obstacles, running Karakour Nation, and aim to make a positive impact with Karakour Nation while earning a living. Any donations or other support in order to solve the arisen obstacles and enable social projects through Karakour Nation are more than welcome.
Ever since I can remember, I practice parkour and martial arts. Both disciplines and the parkour community have given me a lot. I love to see empowered and confident people who can stand up for their needs, thrive, succeed, and enjoy life. In addition, I find Kickstart Kids from Chuck Norris very inspiring. Kickstart Kids provides kids with a perspective, empowers youth with core values and the skills to stand up to gangs as well as to achieve their goals.
Therefore, my mission is to empower people, improve the quality of life, give people perspective, provide them with the mental an physical skills to achieve their goals and stand up for their needs. This I do through the powerful vehicle of parkour and martial arts. In particular, I pay special attention to individual needs while coaching, provide sessions for specific groups, organise special events, and develop environments that conect people while stimulating movement, play, and exploration.
In 2011, I joined SHARE (Sustainably Happy Realists) and three friends introduced me to dumpster diving. I was shocked to see how much good food and other things are thrown away. People in other countries are starving from hunger and have nothing to live. The associated wastage of resources and energy has an unnecessary negative impact on the environment. Furthermore, wasting food is disrespectful to the hard-working ranchers and farmers who produce our daily bread.
With SHARE I organised Food Not Bombs once a month. In addition, I started saving food from dumpsters and redistributed as much as possible. In 2013, the situation changed. Food Not Bombs became less frequent as less people joined the cooking and most shops locked the food, preventing dumpsterdivers from saving it. At the same time, I learned about Foodsharing in Germany from Raphael Fellmer. In September, Tristram Stuart came to Wageningen, the Netherlands for “Feeding the 500”, a scaled down version of “Feeding the 5000”. There was a very large turnout and I decided to bring Foodsharing to the Netherlands. I translated the website, founded and led Foodsharing Wageningen, and looked at ways to bring Foodsharing to the enierty of the Netherlands. Today the day I am still involved in Foodsharing as Foodsaver and coordinator of two shops. The leadership I handed over.
Sustainability and nature are part of my life since I can remember. I grew up in the country, we had ecological food, and the building materials of the house were environmentally friendly. Most of my time I spent outside, even during thunder and lightning. If I was not studying nature and animals, I was doing outdoor activities such as mountenbiking, climbing trees, building shelters, and gardening. Growing up in nature and between farms taught me that we are part of nature, depending on it, and not above it. No matter how much we invent, we will always be flesh and blood, remaining dependent on nature. Therefore we have to be careful with ecosystem we are part of and take care of mother earth.
During secondary education, I joined the first NGO which was the ANTL (Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Naturschutz Tecklenburger Land e.V.). There I organised educational activities for children. I did an internship at the ANTL, too. During the internship, I helped with the restoration of a moor and at a stable with sheep. After my time at the ANTL, I continued to be part of environmental NGOs, helped with events, took part in protests, and studied Environmental Sciences. For a short time, I was a supportive volunteer at S&I, the Student Council Party for sustainability and integration at Wageningen University. In 2011, I added dumpster-diving to save food and other things to my portfolio of voluntary environmental activities. Soon after, I brought Foodsharing from Germany to Wageningen, the Netherlands. There I am active, still.
Over time, my approach and mindset changed. I learned that it is rarely black and white; often trade-offs have to be made. This, shortcomings of science, and problems with policy changed my take on campaigns, protests, events, and NGOs. The situation regarding NGOs changed drastically in 2021 when Dutch NGOs, policymakers, and environmentalists started solely blaming farmers and ranchers for climate change and the degradation of nature. They also started dictating solutions without consulting the affected parties aka. farmers and ranchers and developed plans of expropriation. This while it was growing up between farmers and ranchers that led me to take action for the environment. I prefer to work on solutions with stakeholders and ask critical questions rather then telling people what to do. I want to inspire people and believe that you can not change people, except yourself and by doing so how people respond. Furthermore, I believe it is important that people get back into contact with nature, go mountain-biking, play seek and hide, build shelters, visit farmers, etcetera. This reconnects people with the environment and makes them take more responsibility themselves.
As volunteer work does not pay bills and may even cause financial depth, I focus on improving my own company while keeping it profitable. This caused a shift from environmental engagement to more social engagement. The only environmental NGO where I am still active is Foodsharing.
In 2018, I started reflecting on my study of environmental science. I noticed several shortcomings of the study, that things are not black and white, and a one-sided picture. I also noted that many people seem unfamiliar with how ranches and farms work and why they do things a certain way, yet they form opinions about it. I see ordinary people, politicians, environmental organisations, and even scientists blaming farmers and ranchers for climate change and the destruction of nature. In 2021, the Dutch environmental movement turned into a movement against ranchers and farmers. This is while many ranchers and farmers care about the environment and love their animals. They have to live off and directly depend on the land. Environmental destruction and a negative impact on the climate would directly negatively affect their livelihoods. Ranchers and farmers can be exceptional assets in combating climate change, promoting sustainability, maintaining and restoring ecosystems, creating environmental awareness, and positively influencing behaviour. It is precisely because of growing up among farmers and ranchers and experiencing the dependency on nature that prompted my involvement with environmental protection.
Dutch politicians seem to impose rules without knowing the consequences, feasibility, and functioning of ranches, farms, and the market. This leads to conflicting rules and unattainable objectives that make farming and ranching impossible. This is while farmers and ranchers have ideas of their own on how to become more animal and environmentally friendly, while remaining profitable at the same time. Some are collaborating with scientists and environmental organisations to find better ways. Some government regulations even include expropriation and give the impression that the Dutch government wants to communise the land of farmers and ranchers. This is not just nor fair.
Because of this and being fond of ranching and horsemanship, it feels like my duty to stand up for ranchers, support ranchers, and defend their rights. I aim to connect different groups, create mutual understanding and propagate the good of Dutch and American ranching. I encourage ranchers to develop in the field of biodiversity, sustainability, animal well-being, etcetera. I use my environmental science background and my strength in critical and creative thinking to question political measures, science, and the goals of NGOs. I am also critical of ranch practices. This allows me to develop ranch-specific opportunities, defend ranchers, etcetera. Unfortunately, due to the need to make money, I had to decide at the end of 2022 to end my engagement for farmers and ranchers. I still intend to provide correct and educational information for townspeople about farming and ranching on a website; enabling them to get a correct picture of farming and ranching.