My Landscape

Kruf, J.P. (2005). My Landscape. Scotland.

My Landscape, taken in 2005 in Scotland on the road with my girls, is full of mental layers and personal reflections of that time. The colour palette is natural with the brown fields, the grey clouds, the misty mountains on the far horizon and the small boat with a man on the lake. It still feels like a painting inspired by the philosophy of landscape.

Oriëntatie

Kruf, J.P. (2019). Oriëntatie.

Het moet gezegd. De stroom aan berichten, artikelen en boeken over ‘de toestand in de wereld’ is immens. Een brandkraan die wagenwijd openstaat, 24/7. Oriëntatie lijkt een kunst op zich te worden. Waar staan wij? Waar sta ik? Wat is er gaande? Wat is waardevol? Wat niet? Hoe bepaal ik mijn positie? Hoe kan ik groeien, overleven, liefhebben?

Het voelde, rondlopend in deze immense wereldbibliotheek, even alsof ik was losgelaten in het gebouw op bovenstaande foto. Een gebouw waar ik geblinddoekt was heen gevoerd, blinddoek af en de oriëntatie-vraag kreeg voorgelegd. Tja… een gebouw, waar hard wordt gewerkt, zo lijkt het, de metalen klanken in de verte klinken, vreemd en onbestemd. Hier wordt iets bijzonders geproduceerd, dacht ik, maar wat? Geen geuren die helpen. Met een dergelijk fantastisch construct moet het wel over kwaliteit gaan, maar welke en waarvan?` Waarvoor en met welk doel zijn deze ruimten ontworpen? Ik weet niet waar ik ben, elke oriëntatie op plaats en tijd is weg. Het licht kan helpen, dacht ik, maar het is praktisch ontdaan van elke kleur.

Het was even of Franz Kafka naast mij stond of dat ik op reis was met Isaac Asimov op één van zijn avonturen. Het was alsof ik in een kelder van een gebouw was beland, waarvan ik de functie niet weet, alsof ik mij ergens in een grote draaiende motor van een auto bevond, waarvan ik niet weet welke richting de bestuurder in gedachten heeft, wie de bestuurder is, waar de reis heengaat en wie er in de auto zitten.

Dat was ook het gevoel vannacht én vanmiddag. De behoefte aan oriëntatie. Enerzijds het debat tussen twee presidentskandidaten. Het toonde twee totaal verschillende wereldopvattingen, met geheel andere netwerken van mensen, belangen, principes, verdienmodellen en organisaties erachter en eronder. Het duel op leven en dood tussen twee volksstammen. Anderzijds het gevoel van het EU-besluit vandaag vóór het nieuwe landbouwbeleid met veel van de commerciële waarden van de oude economie in tact, waarbij natuurontwrichting niet wordt ontzien of is gezekerd, waarbij innovatie zo zacht is als boter. Er waren toch de nobele en strakke gedachten van de Green Deal! Of was er toch geen deal? Of niet? Kraakt de democratie – gebaseerd op individuele belangen, voorkeuren en keuzes van burgers – nu in haar voegen als het mogelijk is en relatief eenvoudig om grondwaarden en grondrechten – in constitutionele  zin – te schenden? Of is dit het? Oriëntatie is het woord.

Ik laat mijn intuïtie, mijn binnenste ik spreken bij de oriëntatie op de voorliggende standpunten en gemaakte keuzes. De aarde is toch echt de enige weg. Piketpaal. Publiek is als het erop aankomt beter dan privaat. Of beter: publiek-inclusief privaat, publiek als kader voor privaat. De ziel is de basis voor oriëntatie.

Design for ecological harmony

© Dror for Parkorman Istanbul: designing a love story between people and nature in a city with no central park.

Dror is a New York-based design firm, creating the future of cities. Building comprehensive visions & systems at every scale. Connecting people with nature through the built environment.

The well-being of humans and the planet are interconnected, and Dror’s Supernature Labs focus on the research, development and invention of new ways to build better with nature and like nature. A global initiative, the labs are rolling out to locations around the world and empowering the local community to innovate and build a better future.

Established by Dror, SuperNature Labs is a holistic, practical framework to design with nature, like nature, to measurably improve the wellbeing of all life. From the scale of products to new cities, SuperNature takes us from Sustainability to Ecological Harmony: a shift in the way we design environments that enables communities, economies, and ecologies to grow in support of each other.

SuperNature Labs is a design company that pioneers innovative architecture, planning, and media products to offer a multi-scale development platform based on a new integration of nature and the built environment.

Camouflage

Kruf, J.P. (2015). Camouflage. Verona.

Komt veel voor. Niet alleen in de natuur, maar ook in de samenleving. Wikipedia formuleert het helder. Quote: “Camouflage of verhulling is het zodanig toepassen van kleur, tekening en vorm dat een normalerwijs zichtbaar object tegen zijn achtergrond verdwijnt of moeilijker wordt herkend. Er is bij camouflage dus sprake van gezichtsbedrog.”

Het wordt alom toegepast door onszelf, bedrijven, politici, media. Het is een techniek die het mogelijk maakt vaak de wat lastige zaken aan het oog van anderen te onttrekken. Dit voorbeeld in de binnenstad van Verona is in al haar onschuldigheid en oprechtheid een aandoenlijke poging van camouflage met kleur. Een pareltje.

Rebuild en reconstruct

Kruf, J.P. (2016). Rebuild and reconstruct. Bordeaux

Reading the Guardian yesterday, this overview crossed my mind. Preparing for my personal lecture about the lessons of 2020 – to be held on the 18th of December this year under strict constraints of Covid-19 conditions of course – I was taken by the deep and wide diversity of themes, topics and issues. The list is impressive.

Thirty books to help us understand the world in 2020 is a rich, at the same time alarming dish. It can hardly be consumed properly, while keeping hope for our children and grandchildren. The list underlines we are heading for a deep collectively mental, ecological and also constitutional crisis. On the other hand some books give exactly what we need for a start. You almost can sense the search for empowerment of the individual, a renaissance coming true, away from the non-living systems which proof to be non-effective and even destructive.

The list of books is of such a graveness and sincerity that change is expected to come soon. We reach for a boiling point. Rebuild and reconstruct is the way forward. We all need to step into the light and do what we must and can do to improve, protect and innovate.

The picture was taken at an industrial site in Bordeaux, a few years ago. It symbolises the feeling and mood I am in: rebuild and reconstruct.

Phases

In nature, ecosystems find themselves in a palette of phases of development. The natural forest for example is not something homogenious static, but can be defined as the sum of different phases which at the same time are present and co-exist. This palette make the forest to what it is in essence. Each phase is unique and has its own dynamics and architecture.

In forest ecology the approach of diagnosis of this state is advanced and scientifically developed by Oldeman (1990). In his forest diagnosis and design of the forest he combined different sciences and approaches and brought them together in a understandable set of phases of forest architecture. It is an assumption that also cities and within that organisations, the true components of society, follow the same patterns as forests do. Why should they not, if they are considered as belonging to the same earth ecosystem. That cities and organisations also have a palette of eco-units is plausible.

Oldeman (1990) elaborated the phases of architecture of innovation, aggradation, biostatis (maturity) and degradation. In general the next phases can be distinguished: innovation (a new beginning, after a reorganisation or a fire, huge competition, new seedlings), aggradation (the build-up, individuals are in development and growing, in prospect, expansion), biostatis (individuals determining the rules, a balancing act, stable mature phase, rich structure, high biodiversity) and degradation (individuals are in decay, dying, leaving, part of the system collapse).

Within public governance the phase of development of organisations is most of the time underexposed in processes of strategy, policy and implementation. As said, every phase – at least in natural forests – has its own set of ground rules, which of course has to be recognised and respected by its stewards and leaders on one hand and the individuals of the system on the other hand. The present set of phases within an organisation can be influenced by internal (leadership, culture, styles, issues, business continuity demands) as well as external (cyber, corona, flooding, competition) factors.

In what phase is your organisation?

Bibliography

Oldeman, R.A.A. (1990). Forests: Elements of Silvology. Berlin Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.

 

Ts’uu

Kruf, J.P. (2020). Ts’uu.

Ontstaan vanuit de bossen van British Columbia. Ts’uu is de naam. Komend van de Haida-cultuur en het is de naam voor de boom Thuja plicata (L.), de Reuzenlevensboom, of Western red cedar. Van het hout werden en worden totempalen vervaardigd. Zij bevatten wijsheid en respect.

Ts’uu is voorzien van een slimme set sensoren en daarmee in staat als Environmental eXpert om stemmingen te meten, sferen op te nemen en de toestand van het milieu te registreren. Deze is voor kleinzoon Sebas met alle adviezen die een grootvader zijn kleinzoon kan geven. Future-proof so to speak.

Bibliography

Drengson, A. and Taylor, D. (2008). Wild Foresting: Practicing Nature’s Wisdom. Gabriola Island, BC Canada: New Society Publishers, 288 pp. Link

Norton, H. H. (1981). Plant Use in Kaigani Haida Culture: Correction of an Ethnohistorical Oversight. Economic Botany Vol. 35, No. 4 (Oct. – Dec., 1981), pp. 434-449 (16 pages). Springer https://www.jstor.org/stable/4254321

The word ‘controversial’

Kruf, J.P. (2019). Deep dive. Dubai Mall.

What do we do as Judge Amy Coney Barrett pointed climate change as controversial. This  happened during the hearings last week in Court. Eyebrows worldwide raised, alarm bells did go off. What we learn here, I’m afraid that the Trias Politica, the separation of powers – a golden rule within public governance  and democracy – is at stake. Source is the New York Times By Calling Climate Change ‘Controversial,’ Barrett Created Controversy.

From the perspective of all those threatened and dying species and damaged or lost ecosystems this was a bad moment and for worse they – like many humans – are expected to have a bad time with appointments like this. Trust in government, trust in politics, trust in judges is at the brink of dying out.

In my view we should not continue along this path of appointing people who deny what is going on and do not really listen to the facts. Especially when de DNA genes of the judiciary will be highly influenced by personal doubts, beliefs and conservatism. It is irresponsible, it is immoral, it is non-ethical to appoint people on crucial public functions from the perspective of short term political and assumed personal gain. True democracy is at stake. It feels like a too deep dive. Risky. Too risky. Stop!

Forest bathing or Shinrin-Yoku

Monet, C. (1865). The Bodmer Oak, Fontainebleau Forest [Oil on canvas]. New York City: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It is painted by impressionist Claude Monet (1840–1926) in the year 1865. According to Plant Curator there is a strong possibility this tree is of the species Quercus petraea (Mattuschka) Lieblein (Sessile Oak, Chêne sessile, Wintereik, Traubeneiche), an emblematic tree of the French forest.

The Bodmer Oak was named after Swiss artist Karl Bodmer (1809–1893), who exhibited his painting of a tree in the heart of Fontainebleau Forest, La Forêt en Hiver, 15 years earlier at the Salon of 1850. The painting of Monet is in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

Monet used bright yellows, greens, and oranges to depict sunlight filtering through the canopy of branches. The carpet of russet leaves signals that he painted this view just before he concluded a months-long visit to Fontainebleau in October 1865 (Source: MetMuseum.org).

What makes this painting so special that it feels you are actually standing in the middle of the forest, at the same level as the tree, at the same spot within the wide forest. It connects you to the tree. It is a great feeling. As if you feel being part of something far more bigger than you. Go into the forest and try it. It is a form of Shinrin-Yoku: The Art and Science of Forest Bathing. Claude Monet painted this feeling in the Bodmer Oak.

Beside respect for life and biodiversity this form of bathing is another reason for us to protect the valuable and wise forests. It supports our own balancing act and strengthens our resilience.

The wise lessons from Baobab

Kruf, J.P. (2003). Baobab Tree. Damaraland, Namibia.

Being smart is best related to surviving, being the fittest. It comes with true skills and a lot of the right DNA or talent, or agility, or power to change. Is it just luck that you can survive? So much depends on the state of the environment, and of yourself. Following the rules of every natural ecosystem.

This tree is here. It is the only one in the vast and stretched desert landscape of Damaraland, Namibia. Why? Not that much water available. The Baobab tree (Adansonia digitata L.) knows how to tackle this. It has learned in the millions of years to store the right amount of water, gathered on the right moments and in the right quantities to survive. Well here it is. The resilient tree. Resilient to draught. When there is not that much of water, it is wise to do so, store it in yourself. Very wise. In fact the only way.

What about you in this world? Are you smart, strong, fit or resilient? Learn these lessons. Amend your properties to that what the environment demands from you, not the other way around. It is about deep lessons from Darwin. Reread him. Just fit. Learn from the Baobab. Take your time, of course, but prepare yourself as soon as possible. It is the lessons of all life on earth. The world is changing. Be the fittest! Store what you need to be resilient.

Dutch Design

Kruf, J.P. (2018). Dutch Design.

Het lijken de penseelstreken van bijvoorbeeld één van de Hollandse meesters, zoals Jan Davidsz. de Heem. Dat zijn het eigenlijk ook, maar dan anders, ingebouwd in het DNA. Een vorm van Dutch Design.

De breekbaarheid en schoonheid van deze tulpen heb ik geprobeerd te schrijven met licht. Gesteund door het groen onder hen, is er de weg naar boven. Sans retouche, om de oorspronkelijkheid ervan niet aan te raken.

Re-engineering public governance

Kruf, J.P. (2006). Sunset in the Amazon. Brazil.

The article in The New York Times today, The World’s Largest Tropical Wetland Has Become an Inferno, caught my attention. What to say? What to do? This year, roughly a quarter of the vast Pantanal wetland in Brazil, one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, has burned in wildfires worsened by climate change. What happens to a rich and unique biome when so much is destroyed? As forest ecologist (and human) it cuts through the heart that so much species and biodiversity did get lost.

It is very inconvenient to feel more or less complete powerless to protect. A personal role as a steward is hard to be found. It puzzles me, this immense loss. More so, what I can do? Who has thoughts on this? Or is democracy the process that values the largest stakeholders. Is it just that? If so the romantic idea of a ‘justice by democracy’ has gone. It was a dream scenario. We need to re-engineer our public governance, so it seems. And quickly so.

Romantic Ireland

Kruf, J.P. (2014). Romantic Ireland.

Toen wij – dochterlief Louise en ik – even stopten op onze reis door Ierland was het landschap koud en grijs. Het had de hele dag geregend. De wolken hingen zwaar, maar het was even droog. Kort uit de auto na vele kilometers. Wij keken al uit naar onze volgende pub, in Galway. Met muziek, dans en uiteraard een pint of Guinness. Als door een hogere kracht kwam even de zon door en wierp haar magisch licht over het landschap en ons. Klik. Met dit romantisch beeld op zak, vervolgden wij onze weg. Dankbaar voor dit bijzonder moment.

De mystiek van Venetië

Kruf, J.P. (2004). De mystiek van Venetië.

Weg van het drukke toeristisch pad door Venetië, zocht ik even de rust en de verkoeling van de stad. Ik belandde op een binnenplaatsje aan één van de steegjes in deze mystiek stad. Met alleen het geluid van wat huismussen.

Het was een plek om altijd te blijven, om te genieten van de schoonheid van de gevels en de essentie van de stoep, van de beschutting van de menselijk maat. Ik heb er een half uur gezeten (op een bankje om de hoek) en heb de mystiek van de stad mogen voelen. Stil. Als een mantra, als een loutering.

Component Colour Wheel

Kruf, J.P. (2012). Ecosystem City® Component Colour Basic Wheel with connection lines.

The colour wheel – first designed in 1666 by Isaac Newton, is a way of illustrating hues related to types of organisations, which are active in the city. This can be useful if you consider the fact that a city have hundreds, sometimes even thousands of active organisations within their borders. How to order them and keep track of drivers and backgrounds or find out positions in the perspective of the governance of the city? Colours can visualise the network of the city landscape.

Based on the city – forest analogy in the Ecosystem City® as well as on the triangle for main types of organisations – government, business and civil society (Meijer, 2018) – active in the city, the first draft of a (city) component colour wheel was designed by me. I believe that linking colours to types can be helpful in understanding and readability in the process of diagnosing the state of the city. I consider organisations in this approach as the basic components of the city, like organisms in a forest. Quite an analogy.

Mintzberg (2016) talks about species of organisations, in the way they are managed and focused. He elaborated this idea from his earlier publication Structure in Fives (Mintzberg, 1983). Adding the scope of organisations on content and value approach is a challenging step. Introduction of these types – taxonomically in analogy with that of the classification of species within genera and accordingly within families – is an exploration in itself. The starting point is the basic wheel.

All colours are from the palette of the Pantone Color Matching System, for reasons of standardisation, print and reproduction.

The basic wheel
The colour red (Pantone® Poppy Red) symbolises the city as a whole and can be considered as the umbrella colour for the total ecosystem of city life, including all components of the system, being players, actors and organisations. The colour green (Pantone® Forest Green) symbolises the natural environment or better: nature as a whole. City and Nature in complementary.

Following the triangle the colour blue (Pantone® Imperial Blue) symbolises government, the colour yellow (Pantone® Vibrant Yellow) symbolises business and the colour orange (Pantone® Carrot Curl) symbolises the true non-governmental side of civil society. It is via red connected with the 3 basic colours triangle.

Because of the political convictions and their influence on the management of the city – I added political organisations to the basic wheel, represented by the colour purple (Pantone® Royal Purple). Politics is often considered as a part of government in the triangle by underlying democratic principles, but the direct influence on the city landscape justifies a place in the basic wheel. It is connected with blue via election or nomination processes.

The extended wheel
The extended colour wheel regards a limited selection of extra types of organisations – the components of the Ecosystem City® –  which from the perspective of city management play on average a major role in discussions, debates and decisions. They are positioned alongside the government, business and civil society triangle.

Kruf, J.P. (2016). Ecosystem City® Component Colour Extended Wheel with connection lines.

From top and clockwise the wheel is extended with education organisations (Pantone® Flame). They come in a variety of form, steered by government, founded independently or as business.

Finance organisations (Pantone® Silver) enable the flow of money. Financing is their main function, i.e. accepting deposits from the public, creating credit, lending and investing, performed either directly or indirectly through capital markets. Banks and investors belong to this component. The emerge as cooperation, state-owned or privately owned.

Media organisations (Pantone® Desert Dust) can be defined as the means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet, that reach or influence people widely.organisations come in a variety of organisational forms. They mostly are close to business oriented starting points and constraints.

Science organisations (Pantone® Lime Green) can be defined as a systematic enterprise that builds and organises knowledge in the form of testable and verifiable explanations and predictions about the universe. Universities and research institutes belong to this group. They emerge in a variety of forms.

Parastatals/mandated government organisations (Pantone ® Process Blue) concern the executive and performing domain of government, most of the time without an elected but a mandate structure in governance. The involved organisations serve the state, province, region or municipality directly and indirectly. They have a mandate to act related to government responsibilities Agencies and parastatals are part of this function.

The Judiciary organisations (Pantone® Pottery Clay) is the governmental type of organisation which interprets and applies the law in a country, state or an international community. Courts belong to this component. They focus on the process of study, reduction, deduction and interpretations from laws, rules and regulations and accordingly on the formulation and dictation of decisions and enforcement. They are state-owned, but formally indecently operating.

Political organisations (Pantone® Violet Tulip) are related to ‘a set of activities associated with the governance of a country or an area. It involves making decisions that apply to members of a group’ (Hague et al., 2013). They refer in essence to the representation of ideas for achieving and exercising positions of governance-organized control over a human community. Machiavelli described politics as the world of ‘power and influence’.

Semipublic organisations ((Pantone® Quartz Pink) have a mix of features of a public institutions, maintained as a public service, but have elements of by a private nonprofit organization. Care, cure, housing, public transport and energy organisations are examples.

Ecosystem City®

Bibliography

Hague, R. and M. Harrop ( 2013) Comparative Government and Politics: An Introduction. New York: Palgrave Macmillan International Higher Education.

Meijer, A. (2018). Datapolis: A Public Governance Perspective on “Smart Cities”, Perspectives on Public Management and Governance, Volume 1, Issue 3, September 2018, Pages 195–206, https://doi.org/10.1093/ppmgov/gvx017

Mintzberg, H. (1985). Structure in Fives: Designing effective organisations. London: Pearson Education.

Mintzberg, H. (2016). Species of Organizations. Mintzberg.org. https://mintzberg.org/blog/organization-species, Seen on the 10th of October 2020

Fungi

Kruf, J.P. (2019) Amanita muscaria (Fly agaric, l’Amanite tue-mouches, Fliegenpilz, Vliegenzwam). Texel.

What can we learn from fungi? What do they have in common with humans? They are in fact the network of smart ‘organisational’ alliances behind life and of ingenious infrastructures making things work. They are far more abundant than plant species, older, wiser. Like humans, they have to trade or buy sugars from plants via mycorrhiza, a symbiotic form, to grow and flourish. In fact trees would be very very small without proper deals with fungi (do we recognise something here?) It is an ode to biodiversity and how this drives ecosystems from the perspective the Kingdom of the Fungi. May this BBC podcast may of interest to you and function as a discovery to a for most of us terra incognita. Something or a rainy Sunday afternoon maybe?

Their diversity is astonishing and in fact a living laboratory for stewards, leaders and managers of the public domain to develop and build more resilience into our cities. The smartness with which fungi build their mycelium wirer for kilometers underground – astonishing – is really something to learn from.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss fungi. These organisms are not plants or animals but a kingdom of their own. Millions of species of fungi live on the Earth and they play a crucial role in ecosystems, enabling plants to obtain nutrients and causing material to decay. Without fungi, life as we know it simply would not exist. They are also a significant part of our daily life, making possible the production of bread, wine and certain antibiotics. Although fungi brought about the colonisation of the planet by plants about 450 million years ago, some species can kill humans and devastate trees.

Listen