The Fundation Nation

The Fundation Nation

Everyone always talks about sustainability, yet why is it taking so damn long to actually get to a societal state that we can call truly sustainable?

The ways to get there are pretty simple, yet require a whole lotta courage, ingenuity, and persistence. Traits that the current powerhouses all over the world seem to have major shortages off. Time to unite into the Fundation Nation and beat those old systems and organisations at their own game.

Context

After researching a lot of problems and corresponding solutions our society has to offer, I compiled this 47-page strategy for humanity to thrive. It has 3 basic pillars:

  1. Change – Let’s embed “change” as a fundamental value in our everyday thinking, in the way we live our lives and in the systems that build up our societies!
  2. Ecosystems Ecosystems Ecosystems – The only thing that is resilient and strong enough to support change are healthy ecosystems. Let’s build stronger social, economic and ecological ecosystems.
  3. The cooperative economy – An amazing way to change the “values” of a global society. It’s faster and better than the current predominant societal systems!

A strategy is only as good as the plan and the people executing it.

In this article you shall find out all about a practical application of the strategy on how humanity can thrive: The fundation nation. Together we will go through its explanation, goals, components, flow and some FAQ. And of course – you are also invited to improve and join the fundation nation.

The funda-what?

There’s already an enormous amount of amazing projects that are changing the world. Yet they’re fighting a battle they cannot win on their own. To amplify the impact of these individual initiatives we need to unite and organise on a larger scale. We need to train our collective intelligence to influence the global economy. In this way we can change the current normality to a place where people, planet & profit are truly equal!

The Fundation Nation

  • Fund – Money is one of the most important drivers in today’s society. We will be “putting our money where our mouth is”.
  • Foundation – When you build a house, you start with its foundations. Let’s make the fundamental needs of humanity truly sustainable. And like Kate Raworth in Doughnut Economics, let’s use the UN sustainable development goals for that social foundation.
  • Fun – A reference to the Happonomy. Because “happy is the new rich”.
  • Nation – This is something we need to do together! To compete with the grand lobbies of unsustainable powerhouses we need to have a high degree of collective intelligence. Let’s take cooperation and togetherness to the next level.

The goals

If we know our destination, we can better focus on the path. Anno 2019 the goals are:

  1. Get minimum 20 people and 5 organisations together to start up the cooperative fund, agree on a way forward, write it down and make a constitution. After all, this is a nation. (January 2020)
  2. Hone the strategy and make an extremely specific plan with smart goals, projects, processes, roles, responsibilities and all the other things a good organisation/nation has. (June 2020)
  3. Get €1.000.000 and Invest in 5 to 10 companies (December 2020)
  4. Reflection-time! Is it working? Is the happiness, the collective intelligence, the ecological impact and the economic impact high enough? Is the collective strong enough? (April 2021)
  5. The fundation nation has 800 people and €43.000.000 to invest in 50-200 companies. (December 2021)
  6. Implement a new and sustainable monetary system that can expand beyond the fundation nation and its ecosystem. If this is not a goal, then we’re not serious about solving the global challenges. (June 2023)

PS: These goals can evolve with the strategy. New knowledge & experience must always be taken into account.

The organisation of our ecosystem

We’ve got a strategy and 6 smart goals. The time has come to talk about the organisation of the Fundation nation ecosystem. It consists of 5 specific components that connect to each other in specific ways.

  1. The companies that make products or offer services that help make this world more sustainable.
  2. The cooperative fund that “democratically” manages the money and guides the different companies.
  3. The think tank that is in charge of ever evolving the strategy of the fundation nation.
  4. The SEPO’s, for Social & Ecological Profit Organisations. No business models, just plain old making-the-world-better-philanthropy.
  5. The people of the fundation nation. Ultimately always more important than any of the above structures/organisations.

The success of each organisations can be measured with determined sustainability-metrics.

The fundamental Companies

  • These companies function in the traditional marketplace and are social and ecological sustainability pioneers with energy, food, transport, housing, education,…, Examples:
  • The social and ecological impact is be measured via specific metrics. Examples:
    • Renewable energy produced
    • Amount of people fed, housed
    • Biodiversity per area
    • Amount of community events
    • Happiness metrics
  • Preferably these are also cooperatives.
  • The Fundation Nation has democratic access to the general meetings and to the board. If the company is not a cooperative on its own, 50% of the board is elected by the people in the fundation nation (an idea derived from the companization model)
  • The companies of course also have a representative in the cooperative Fund

The Cooperative Fund

This is the democratic organ that owns the collective money. The fund decides and votes on how the ecosystem will be empowered. It is also a way for societal issues and challenges to be brought to light.

  • It funds the socio-ecological companies that take care of the fundamental needs of society.
  • It is democratically owned by all cooperants and decides:
    • Where Funds flow
    • What happens with the Return on Investment (ROI) of all companies combined.
    • Which SEPO’s to empower
  • Organises community events for the people of the fundation nation

The Think-Tank

This is the brains of the collective intelligence of the ecosystem, it causes all components to work as one. It consists of the “intellectuals” and “elders” of the nation. People that think and act like Kate Raworth, Nelson Mandela, Elon Musk and Jane Goodall.

  • Every x amount of years (preferably x = 2) they create an updated version of the strategy for the ecosystem (long and short term). This could be in the form of a book, video-series, events,…
  • The Think-Tank supports the Cooperative Fund with research on specific topics
  • The Think-Tank has a bigger share in votes within the cooperative fund. We hate to say it out of political correctness, but experts generally have a better understanding of the whole ecosystem and what needs to be done.
  • The brain of the ecosystem looks for needed innovation to strengthen the nation. A percentage of the Return on Investment (ROI) is allocated to the creation of new companies.

The Sepo’s

SEPO = Social and Ecological Profit Organisations. These organisations have a huge impact that traditional economy completely ignores. What is the ROI of volunteers helping elderly people? What’s the ROI of people planting a forest? What’s the ROI of people organising events or concerts?

Impossible to financially measure, yet infinitely important for a society to function. That’s why the Fundation Nation systematically spends a part of its ROI on philanthropy. It goes towards food, education, healthcare, equality, experiments, events, nature,…

These investments have no financial returns, yet their impact on the fundation nation ecosystem can be measured via the ecological and social metrics, similar to the ones of the companies. 

Via the SEPO’s, people who cannot buy into the cooperative are empowered to become shareholders. In that way they can become part of the Fundation Nation and enjoy all its benefits.

The people

The reason the ecosystem exists in the first place. If all goes well, we live in a fundamentally better world that has healthier food, more nature, cleaner energy, better housing, more efficient mobility, open education and whatever we think is important.

  • Every person is a co-owner and has a voice in the fund and/or in specific companies.
  • When the collective wins, every individual wins! This happens via the combined ROI, every person gets a part of it.
  • When the new monetary system is implemented, there is a universal basic income for everyone.

The Funda-yes!!!

Via a democratic cooperative Fund that is strengthened by a Think-Tank, we will use our collective money to invest in sustainable companies that provide the fundamental needs for us all.

By using the money-language of today, in combination with a high collective intelligence, we can create a strong ecosystem where socio-ecological standards are as high as the financial ones. We will make equity and sustainability the new normal and spread it throughout the world.

The return on investment is used wisely to strengthen the whole ecosystem via innovation and via systematic philanthropy. With a new monetary system we will be able to reverse social injustice and regenerate the ecological damage that has been done.

The Fundation Nation, standing strong in a world of competition and intolerance, will expand and lead us into a world where each and everyone will be able to thrive.

Together, we CAN change the world.

ps: Want to join the efforts to create the fundation nation – call me: zjefvanacker@gmail.com
ps2: know something like this that already exists. Let me know: zjefvanacker@gmail.com

FAQ

“Will it work?

We’ll will only know for sure when we do this!

“It sounds a lot like a society as it is working today

Completely correct. You can see the cooperative fund as a government and the ROI for SEPO’s as subsidies. The reason that the Fundation Nation exists is to fundamentally change the economy and society where the current powerhouses are failing, lack the courage or are too slow. In an ideal scenario the current societal components will be able to follow or be faster than the Fundation Nation in changing the inequalities in society.

However, we’re taking power into our own hands because we’re pretty sure they won’t be able to change fast enough. Moreover, we’re not willing to bet our lives and the health of this planet on it.

“So if I invest €10.000.000, someone who only invested €1000 can also decide what happens to my money?”

Completely correct. It is the fundamental idea behind equity and equality. The fact that you have €10.000.000 and the other person only €1000 is most probably because you had at least one type of advantage over the other. This could be rich parents, good physical and/or mental health, amazing genes, good education, good looks, good upbringing,… There’s 1000 possibilities why you got more lucky than someone else.

Of course, there will be some rules, agreements and systems to make sure there’s no abuse and people free-riding on your money or hard work. Yet the basic principle remains when it comes to climate justice and ending poverty: We’re all in this together. Let’s empower each other to make everyone help everyone!

“Will there be conflict of interest within the fundation nation”

We’re all human and there’s a selfish part in all of us. One of the goal of the fundation nation is to create a system where the cooperative, empathic and social part of us, is being stimulated.

For sure there will be politics in the fundation nation, and for sure people will want their organisation to be funded or their plan to be executed. Even at the expense of the health of the collective. We will have to deal with this and stand strong in our beliefs and goals.

Let’s embrace it and see it as an invitation to learn, to heal and to become stronger.

Is there a maximum of people/organisations”

It is hard to say this for sure, yet most probably: yes. When the fundation nation grows too big, a new, connecting organisation will have to be created that organises multiple organisations similar to the fundation nation. This could work hierarchically (which is not necessarily bad if done in the right way with the right people), or possibly with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) which will enable us to reach an even higher level of collective intelligence.

“What happens if the fundation nation fails?”

Whatever the outcome, it will be an amazing experiment that will resonate through the ages. Even if the fundation nation fails we’ll have an enormous amount of knowledge and experience that will have a huge impact on the world.

ps: Want to join the efforts to create the fundation nation – call me: zjefvanacker@gmail.com
ps2: know something like this that already exists. let me know: zjefvanacker@gmail.com

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Are women the cause of the patriarchy?

Are women the cause of the patriarchy?

I was raised by a feminist mother who made me aware of the whole patriarchy-issue since I was very young. This unique upbringing caused me to struggle with my own masculinity for most of my life, but luckily for me, I found the seed of peace when I realised that there was a huge contradiction within the patriarchy, and the fight against it. I learned that women are also causing the Patriarchy.

For this post I invite you to be open-minded and to bear with me while I take you through what I learned about this whole debacle. Let us together find the liberating truth that is hidden within the paradox of the patriarchy. And let us together find a better strategy that will get us to the next level: a society with TRUE equality!

First of all I want to say:

The patriarchy is real! Our society today values masculine traits much more than feminine ones. We think this is normal because we have been conditioned through our culture, our politics, our economy and the rest of our environment. And because this is the current standard, there are many injustices towards women. Luckily for us, I already wrote a post on how to deal with privilege and injustice: How to deal with white male privilege.

A unique point of view

As said before, my unique viewpoint on this subject comes from the fact that I was raised by a feminist mother. And although my mother was and is an amazing woman who taught me great respect for women, I did not learn gender equality. Like with many people fighting for equality, the focus was too much on the oppressor and hence I learned contempt for the oppressor.

So when I grew up, I unwillingly learned to dislike the oppressor. Which means I grew up disliking men. I grew up disliking myself and my own masculinity.

Needless to say this fucked up my love live during my childhood, puberty and my young adolescent life. This was because I was afraid to look women in the eye, I was afraid to touch them, I was afraid to flirt, I was afraid to seduce. Basically I was afraid that my masculinity was going to offend women.

Many men have been struggling with the same issue since the #MeToo-movement. But for me, this idea had been engraved in my subconscious like a die-hard dogma.

Fortunately for me, around the age of 26, I saw the contradiction in the patriarchy and the liberating truth that lies within it. It set me on a long 7-year-quest where I learned to reprogram myself. I learned how to see myself equal to women, I learned to look them in the eye, to touch them, to seduce them, to talk to them without being submissive or oppressive, and moreover, I started to love my masculinity!

This also taught me a lot of empathy because I now realise how our upbringing really affects our way of thinking and acting: How does having a super-macho-father effect you? Or what’s the effect is of a super-submissive mother?….

Thus, because of my unique self-empowerment-quest I finally understand what true gender equality means, and how it can be better for both women & men!

The paradox of the patriarchy

It’s actually very simple to show you the Paradox in the Patriarchy. Pay attention to the subsequent picture for 10 seconds, and observe how it makes you feel.

If all went well you saw a picture of a person’s silhouette surrounded by Good-looking women. These attractive women have a special impact. I like to call this effect “the privilege of the beautiful female”. And this privilege is not caused by culture, it is a product of our psychological evolution. It has been passed on for millions of years and if you’re like most people (not blocked by traumas or dogmas that make you think the opposite) these pictures should have caused the following:

As a biological Man you look up to that person in the middle. Or if you feel strong/worthy enough, you’d probably compete with that person to be in his place.

As a biological women you are extremely interested about the person in the middle of the other women. Your biology is telling you: “If other females of my species are interested, this is probably a good partner”

Click this link for a good scientific article about this (which has many other good sources too) or Click this link for an easier-to-read article about this subject of evolutionary psychology.

Now, the time has come for the 2nd part of understanding the paradox in the patriarchy. What if I told you that the person you wanted to be, or the person you wanted to be with… was

Nobody else

but our good friend

and known misogynist:

D

o

n

a

l

d

Okay….I know this is quite a shock for you. You just wanted to be Donald Trump, or you just wanted to be with him…It’s okay…just breathe.

Let’s not fight our biology. Accepting this is part of the solution to get to true equality. In the acceptance lies personal peace and the ability to go to the next question, the cultural question: “Why do these women do this, why do they support a known misogynist?”

I already asked this question in the blog about white male privilege and I got some answers from some very interesting people:

Stephanie Hermant, a friend and a die-hard feminist fighting for equality, explained it like this: “those women are empowering themselves

Henry Gordon-Smith, another Friend from NYC who’s very involved with the topic as he is leading a company with many women, says: “Men throughout history have been forcing women to do this, because of this cultural history these women are also being forced to do this”

I do agree with both explanations

Yet

I feel there’s a part of the truth missing. I feel that we are making excuses for these women and making excuses is ALWAYS disempowering. While we want to do the opposite, right?

So let’s look at the part of the truth that is missing. Most of us are already thinking it, yet it is hard to utter. So I’m just going to say it:

These women, right there on the above picture, these women don’t give a shit about gender equality. They only care about themselves and how they can get the best life possible. They’re selfish.

This is the paradox of the Patriarchy: Next to the fact that many power-hungry and unconscious men are enforcing it, there’s an enormous amount of women who are doing the same. Men AND Women alike are reinforcing the current ways of the patriarchy

The seed of truth hidden within: The patriarchy is not a gender issue, not a war between sexes, it is a crisis of personal values.

Choose your values wisely

Each and every day we choose what we say and do, and this reflects our values.

The women in the above picture made a very conscious choice to be there with this powerful misogynist. It reflects that they care a lot about money & material wealth.

Me, I put my effort in ecosystem urban farming and changing the food system so that everyone has more access to healthy food and a healthy life in sync with nature. This, I hope, reflects that I value community and nature.

Each and every day we all have the power to choose what we say and what we do and it reflects our values every time.

We choose what we wear, we choose what we eat and drink, we choose our friends and lovers, we choose our jobs and employers, yes, we even choose our politicians. We also choose to question our conditioning and to break through our dogmas. We choose to change and what our life and the world around us looks like.

And yes I acknowledge: there’s a such thing as privilege and some people have much more choices than others. Next to that, some choices are also extremely hard to make and require a lot of courage

Yet, the truth remains that we ALWAYS have the power to make some choice in one way or another.

At the moment most people in power thrive on the ways of the patriarchy. Still, it is within our abilities to empower the considerable amount of men and women who are living and breathing the ways of equality. We can choose to lift them up to have more influence in shaping our world.

With every CHOICE we vote to support the current status quo of the patriarchy and oppression, or we opt to take little nibbles out of the grand structures of society that cause systematic injustices.

We can choose to remain the same, or we can choose a more equal civilisation.

We are the solution

Because of my feminist mother I had a unique early life with specific personal struggles about gender equality. This caused me to learn about the patriarchy and see the great paradox within: Next to men, there are an extensive amount of women reinforcing the patriarchy. This shows that the problem is not a gender-issue, but a crisis of values.

The solution to true equality is therefore quite simple: We, together, can choose our way out of the patriarchy towards true equality.

We all have the power to choose to make our lives and the lives of others better. If enough of us come together and choose the path of true equality, we have the power to shape a society where this is the norm.

When we choose to have a civilisation like that, there’s literally nothing we cannot do.

Amen!

Huge thanks to Eva Donkerblauw, Laura Ayala Bucheli, Toastmasters Ghent and all the awesome people around the world for sending me good vibes and deep thoughts.

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I love you…TODAY!

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I love you…TODAY!

Generally I’m extraverted. And as an extravert I talk a lot.

I like talking.

And what I like more than just talking, is “talking sense”!

My previous post on “How to let humanity survive and Thrive“, I was talking sense for 47 pages long. A huge chunk of sense which requires attention for a long time.

Luckily there’s awesome people, Like Lennart and Mei who make fantastic podcasts that are wayyyy more easy to digest. They make radio-documentary-style podcast and make soundbite-quotes like this:

And look how they introduced me:

Infused with political genes, bio-engineer Zjef Van Acker has helped kickstart several initiatives to transform our society into a healthy ecosystem. He’s an urban mushroom grower, hobbyist philosopher and vertical farming pundit, researching the AMI model. Discover what those letters stand for, and his thoughts on our modern food economy, in this episode.

A vertical farm Pundit? Awesome!

Anyway – just wanted to share this with you. Lsten to the podcast via this link, and definitely check out the other tomorrow.people episodes!

Stay Awesome and Keep on Growing!

ps: Got some feedback that I have a good radio-voice. You think so too?

How to let humanity survive & thrive

How to let humanity survive & thrive

(2 April 2019)

Recently, student climate activists have been shaking up Europe. They are not the first ones to try and change the “mainstream world”, and I’m pretty sure they will not be the last. But this time is different. I feel that for the first time in history, the group of people that want to reverse climate change have enough support and momentum to make an actual change.

Image result for climate activist anuna greta
(My favorite climate activist heroes: Anuna, Greta and Kyra!)

However, when I look at the Climate Activists, politicians and business leaders, I feel there’s no common ground in the grand scheme of things. There’s not really a long term plan or strategy that unites them all. And that’s exactly what we need to take this to the next level: a common strategy.

A strategy for politicians to base themselves on, for entrepreneurs to work towards and for everyone to believe in.

So yeah – seeing all of this I was screaming at my television:

COOOMOONNN, IT’S SO SIMPLE…. DON’T YOU SEEEE?

And…yeah…apparently they don’t yet. So I just started writing a piece that turned into a paper. A paper that’s a start for a common and global strategy, and maybe a book. Who knows what the future will hold. And I hope that this paper will help everyone in the debate to find each other and cooperate.

Image result for anuna rutten
(Gwendolyn Rutten (chairwoman of Belgian liberal party) & Anuna De Wever (Belgium’s most famous student climate activist). On 26th of March they had a discussion on television. To their own frustration (and to mine) they were not finding common ground)

This paper contains the insights and information I have gathered for over 6 years (since a little bit before the beginning of this blog). The proposed strategy is based on 3 pillars:

  1. The only constant is change – Let’s embed “change” as a fundamental value in our everyday thinking, the way we live our lives and in the systems that build up our societies!
  2. Ecosystems Ecosystems Ecosystems – The only thing that is resilient and strong enough to support change are ecosystems. Let’s build stronger social, economic and ecological ecosystems.
  3. The cooperative economy – An amazing way to change the “values” of a global society, faster and better than the current predominant societal systems!

And now, I don’t want to keep you waiting any longer. Here’s the Brain Child I put together this last month, out of necessity and just for fun! Without further ado:

A strategy on how to let humanity survive & thrive – click here

Ps: If this strategy already exist and I just don’t know about it. Let me know asap 😉

How to deal with (white male) privilege – How Zjef will bring peace to Israel & Palestine – Chapter VII

The gender and racial equality debate has been on my mind for many years. I’ve been attracted to the discussion because this has been an issue for some of my closest relatives, friends and lovers. But maybe even most of all it is because for 98% of my life I’ve never ever felt like a person in a powerful position. Nope, I even subconsciously hated myself for being…a white man (I’m not saying I didn’t have privileges, I’m just saying I didn’t feel them).

meme-privilege
aka Ungratefulness

So after carefully investigating the whole controversy and exercising some self-love, I feel I have come to a point where I can write this chapter. Some will say it makes sense, some will be offended and say it’s not my place to talk about this. Whatever your opinion is, I’d love to hear it because it is my intent to head in the direction of more equality.

I’ll start this chapter with what I understand from this whole dispute, then I’ll get to what I feel is missing to get to decent equality, and lastly we’ll get to some actual steps on how to peacefully deal with the whole (white male) privilege thing.

The issue as I understand it

It seems that due to historical reasons, male dominance and patriarchy are big contributors to lots of inequality in the world. Most positions of power are taken by (white) men and it’s what we see confirmed all around us: In movies, on the news and in our everyday lives. We all take this in subconsciously and therefore most of us automatically see white men more as political or business leaders, more than we see women or people of color to take the same positions. This is the current “normal”.

tumblr_p2r4b1v5rw1qzsnxyo1_500

Many empowerment-movements are slowly changing this “normal” by spreading lots of awareness. The goal: To have a diverse set of global and local leaders, chosen for their competence as leaders, rather than the subconscious benefits they get because of specific traits like their gender and race.

The inquiry of the empowerment-movements is for white men to notice their benefits and at times, take a step back to let others take positions of power. Hence in time, we will get to a more equal and diverse set of people in power. So that in time, we can subconsciously see everyone as a leader, not only white men. The new “normal”.

The missing part

Now I feel there’s something missing here, the reasoning behind this is 2-fold:

(1) Taking  a step back as a person in power requires A LOT of integrity and courage. Which in my opinion is a great quality as a leader…hence…the ones that actually take a step back as a leader are the ones that we need to have in positions of power. A beautiful contradiction that brings me to the second part of my issue in this debate

(2) Most of us choose what we will wear every day. Most of us choose what we eat and the products we buy, we decide which companies/organisations we buy from, and we choose the ones we work for. Most of us choose who our friends and our lovers are, and most of us choose who our local and global leaders are. The point is….we choose a lot, we choose every single moment on how the world around us will look.

What I’m getting at is that it is not only white men who are in power because they have a privilege and they take power just because they can. There are also an enormous amount of not-white-men who support these men to be in power. And even if those people choose to support those men because they have been subconsciously fed with the idea that they are the right men to be in power…only they themselves actually hold the power to break that vicious circle. They hold the power to surround themselves with other men.

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In this picture our good friend Donald Trump is being empowered by being surrounded by many beautiful women. And who can blame the women to empower themselves by taking a picture next to a powerful man? However, they might have some temporary benefits in their status and impact, yet they are undermining their long term empowerment by standing next to a first class misogynist. Who can break this vicious circle? Other men….or these women?

SO I would state that to overcome the many inequalities, to get to a more diverse and right set of leaders,…it is not only the white men’s responsibility to change that. I would state that it is the responsibility of everyone who is able to choose the right people to surround themselves with, the right people to support, and the right people to empower.

Two important remarks about this part

(1) What I aim to do is not to get rid of my responsibility and to transfer it to others…NOPE…I’m actually sharing with you all how I seek my own empowerment in the most ethical way. This actually leads me to have more responsibilities, not less.

(2) When I talk about actively making the right choices. I’m not talking about the quick-fix-kind-of-choices. I’m talking about long term recurring choices and habits. Some can take a month to have effect, others years, and the most systemic issues might even take generations to change. But it all starts with the 1 choice you make in the many single moments that make up “your life”.

How to ethically deal with (white male) privilege

Time to get down to business and get some guidelines on how to deal with the whole issue.

First – know yourself and feel the other. I love a good fight, and even when I’m losing a fight I see a win-win because I’m learning. But there are times when I draw lines for myself & for others.

Recently I was in a discussion with a former romantic girlfriend about this whole debate. At one point in the dispute she reacted very heavily to the fact that I questioned the whole white-male-privilege concept (because I had never really liked being a white-male). At that point she bluntly told me: “You have white male privilege so shut up”, and she walked away. This of course enraged me as I was in a very vulnerable moment and I didn’t feel heard. My blood was boiling and the adrenaline was raging through my body, but instead of using it to get into a more messier fight…I just backed of and made a facebook-post about it (which taught me a lot too).

The point is: I knew her and I knew I had to back off. I knew myself and I knew what the anger and adrenaline could destroy if I pointed it specifically at her. Now we were both bloodied and hurt, but we lived, learned and were not traumatised (I hope).

Second – privilege as advantage.

When someone tells you “You have privilege”, don’t get defensive…because, you have nothing to defend. Privilege is not a bad or good thing, it’s just a specific advantage you have…. Be it money, education, your good looks, or the fact that your skin-color or gender is generally associated with leadership… That advantages you have can be turned into power, and power is simply put: responsibility.

What you do with that responsibility, that is up to you and will define you as a human being.

Do you use the advantage to gain more power and attention, and make others serve you…wellll, in my opinion that makes you a kind of an asshole. I for one would not like to be in your care.

Do you use your power to listen to others, to restore the planet’s ecosystem and/or to empower your fellow human beings to live happy and fulfilling lives,… Then I’d trust you much more to make good decisions for me.

quote-leadership-is-not-about-being-in-charge-leadership-is-about-taking-care-of-those-in-simon-sinek-87-98-34

The almighty Lucie Evers broke this even down further into a step by step guide:

  1. Look at power in a different way. Be aware of your influence on power dynamics and your need for control.
  2. Let go of the need for control.
  3. Understand the relationship between self-image, your projection of yourself in the world and the actual ‘position’ you have. Put it in sync.
  4. Understand the privilege you have and deal with it. Don’t deny or get rid of it, just accept it and deal with it in a responsible way. Noblesse Oblige.
  5. Don’t feel responsible for what is not yours in the first place. It’s not because people leave (their) issues on the table, that you have to take them on. Get rid of saviour complex.

Conlusionz

The issue is that the world around us is built on a whole lot of suppression of certain groups of people. And it’s not because that this is the world now, that this is how the world should be. Let’s get “normal” out of our subconscious, and make it better.

To do this everyone needs to use the power they have at hand. Everyone who is able needs to put their money where there mouth is and let their actions be congruent with their values of equality.

The recipe: Keep an open mind, listen, learn, live and be more like Janaya Khan or  Hannah Gadsby.

If you think there’s something completely wrong or if there’s something missing – hit reply.

Lots of people to thank for the many talks & discussions on the subject. Let’s start with my mother and my sister: Magda Van Acker & Jana Van Acker, then for sure Esther Bonebakker (probably the first person to really open my eyes). Then Stephanie Hermant, Lynn Josephy, Charlotte Schelstraete, Jacklyn Bandy, Mia Fernandez Medinacelli, Lucie Evers, Marcus Chin Hien Goh, Zeljko Blace, Kelechi Johnbosco, Ayşegül Sırakaya, Mark Horler, Ryan Ginsburg, Nils Plovie, Niek D’hondt & the many others who jumped in the snake pit with me. Thank you for all the patience and open mindedness.

How Zjef will bring peace to Israel & Palestine – Check out the other chapters in the series via this link.

Polyamory & World Peace – How Zjef will bring peace to Israel & Palestine – Chapter VI

When I started talking about my love life in Chapter I and II of this series, everyone thought I was joking about the world peace. As a reminder, I’m not joking about the world peace. The reason is simple: If we want to think about world peace, we need to think about interhuman relationships. And the best way to investigate human relationships…is by taking the most difficult relationship between 2 human beings: The Romantic Relationship.

To help achieve world peace with my Vertical Farming quest, I have been experimenting with polyamory. For the past 3 years people have been thinking that I’m crazy, others thought I was awesome, and others thought I was just being amoral.

But that didn’t really matter. The truth is that I had no fucking clue what exactly I was doing…but I did know why I was doing it: I question life, I question love, I question as much as I can bear, all in the name of becoming and being my best self.

being-our-best
For the record, I question that shit too

So to kickstart this chapter – what did I learn from my polyamorous experiences?

Polyamory seems great. Seeing 3 girls at the same time just sounds awesome, especially if you can boast about it to your buddies. The only thing you don’t boast about so easily, is when you feel shit when those girls are also seeing other guys and in that way, are bringing up your deepest insecurities.

Conversations in my head (not with my buddies) sometimes went like this:

Zjef 1: Am I not enough? Why does she need to see someone else?
Zjef 2: Dude, you’re also seeing other girls, I could ask you the same question
Zjef 1: I know you’re right… but still…Why does it hurt? Why do I feel like I’m being betrayed?
Zjef: 2: Why are you so insecure? Just focus on what you want, don’t let it get into your head.
Zjef 1: But it hurts…
Zjef 2: Shut it…feelings are guidelines, not truths…
Zjef 1: But…
Zjef 2: SHUT IT…focus on your breath….breath in….breath out…

Obviously Zjef 2 is suppressing a feeling that needs to be listened to because it’s a fundamental insecurity: the feeling of not being good enough. This core self-doubt has caused many toxic situations in many of my relationships, be it romantic, friendly or professional.

People that have been around me during my past 31 years have witnessed this first hand.

How? Well, I’m glad you asked.

So we’re in this meeting about…let’s say…starting a commonly owned vertical farm that wants to use waste as a resource to grow mushrooms. And you know, we want to build and organise this because our current industrial capitalism just doesn’t seem to be able to deal so well with our pending ecological disasters and social injustices. Of course, you’re still in the current economic climate and everyone still needs to eat, shit and get a roof over their head. And… unfortunately you can’t just jump out of this madness and create utopia in the blink of an eye.

Hence, when you’re all about changing the world, and you have a problem with feeling that you yourself are not good enough, you also project that on all other things.

Whatever is being discussed in the meeting…it’s never fucking good enough. And when, as a perfectionist, you break down every idea on the table, others also break down your ideas…and if that makes you feel betrayed because you take it very personal…the whole thing turns sideways, everybody starts disliking each other and even with all the good intentions in the world, the project just doesn’t happen.

curinginsecurity

You already see where the world peace comes in? Good! But first back to Polyamory.

So fundamentally I was insecure and that turned me into a shitty asshole on many occasions (be it romantic or professional). Yet being an asshole is a lonely endeavor, so you create this other type of personality born out of the same insecurity. That special personality that avoids conflict and makes sure as much people as possible like you. Yes indeed: The Nice guy!

So, bipolar as I was, I kept on jumping between being an asshole and a nice guy. And because of that, relationships never really gave me the fulfillment that I needed….because how could they? I didn’t feel good enough for the world, so no girlfriend could be good enough either.

Even if my girlfriend would have been Ariana Grande, I still probably would have thought she was just not satisfying my needs, as I wanted to be treated like a prince (I say “probably” because she has a lot of money and could possibly make that happen. But then again, why would Ariana Grande want to be with a self-absorbed cunt like that?).

Ariana Grande Zjef and the quest to build a vertical farm
Ariana Grande….who wouldn’t fall for a girl on high heels in a boxing outfit. That shit is just sexy!

In short – Polyamory was for me the fastest way to let out the asshole and the nice guy at the same time. Luckily, as polyamory is no place for insecure little boys, it gave me such a high understanding of myself that, slowly slowly, I called the asshole AND the nice guy both on their bullshit… And in the end, after 3 years of experimenting, feeling and thinking, I finally found peace and the recipe of living a fulfilled and happy life.

So what is it? The recipe of living the fulfilled and happy life?

I guess it’s still the same as what I started this chapter with: I have no fucking clue what exactly it is that I’m doing…but I’m sure that I am going to limit as much as possible, my time spent as an insecure asshole or nice guy,

To conclude this chapter:

Love…still have no clue what it’s about. I think it’s founded on self-love,…whatever that means.

Polyamory – have no clue if it’s wrong or right… What I do know that it’s a lot of fun as long as you want and can handle the double edged sword.

Peace…well, I think that’s just the level of congruency in everything you do, say and feel (got this one from Gandhi).

World Peace – that would be all 7,653,219,391 people (and counting) being at peace with themselves without fucking each other over to keep it. How to organise this? Well, this might be a good subject for the next chapter?

Zjef in Romania5
Peace out!

How Zjef will bring peace to Israel and Palestine? Click here for Chapter I & IIClick here for Chapter III, click here for Chapter IV & click here for Chapter V

The quest anno May 2018

The quest anno May 2018

Dear awesome people,

Often I think: “Damn, I have a blog to update”

The truth is that the more I seem to be doing, the less I have the need and the energy to write about it. Meaning that you can safely assume that a LOT is happening in the quest to build the Vertical Farm. Never in these 5 years I’ve been so busy and so successful in doing what I do in all facets of my life: In the field of vertical farming and the areas of love, friendship, health, happiness and spirituality.

Now, I’m not yet where I thought I’d be 3 months after I started my quest (more than 5 years ago), yet for the first time since then I feel fulfilled just by walking the path. A very very interesting new way of life.

So what am I up to these days? A couple of things that all reinforce or will reinforce each other in the future. Below a list in order of energy put in:

  1. Chairman of GroeiNEST: a Ghentian non-profit that is an open platform for setting up projects to make sustainable, local and healthy food as accessible as possible (urban farming an important tool for this of course)
  2. Co-founding the Pad en Stoel cooperative: A Belgian collaboration between different mushroom farms
  3. 12 Steps to urban farming: Not making a business out of this project as initially intended. Yet it’s still alive because of its community and because it’s becoming part of the next project
  4. Starting up AMI’s farm lab: an international platform for the exchange of data and knowledge to build high tech Food Production ecosystems (AMI-systems)

This post is to let you know that the Vertical Farming quest has never been as alive as it is today! Lot’s of beautiful things are growing and the future is looking epic!

Muchos Love and let me know if there’s something you want to know more about!

Yours truly,
Vertical_Zjef

Zjef in Romania5