Why give awards for high intelligence?

why give awards for high intelligence

In 2012-2013, Mensa the Netherlands worked with great enthusiasm to create a ‘daughter’, the Dutch Mensa Foundation. It was inspired by the American Mensa Foundation www.mensafoundation.org that was founded in 1971 already. Somehow no ‘Mensa country’ followed that example so Mensa the Netherlands decided to be the first one and hopes for more Mensa countries to do the same and create a worldwide network of Mensa foundations. Every country has its own motives and issues to fulfill the overall Mensa mission that highly intelligent people cooperate ‘for the benefit of humanity’. What the benefit is, differs by country and that is OK.
In the Netherlands, one of the things we started to do from the very beginning in 2013 is giving Awards in the fields of Education, Society and Work. The awards are not given ‘for’ high intelligence; they are given for the role a person played, the example that person shows or the product or service a person invented in that field. We need that in the Netherlands because we have a culture that is rather focused on the ‘average’ and ‘fitting in’ and much less to be ‘out of the box’ and ‘stand out’. Dutch society will benefit a lot with awareness of HIQ potential and active measures to use and develop extraordinary talent. This is why the Awards were created.
Everybody can come up with proposals for nominations – a jury chooses 3 candidates per field that receive an official nomination from our Mensa Foundation. This week, the names of the nominations for 2015 will be published. November 7, everybody is welcome to join the meeting in Leiden where the names of the Awards winners will be made public and nominees and winners will be honored! And we are happy that Mensa member professor John Grin will speak at the event about ‘creativity, setback and inspiration’. More info at http://mensafonds.nl/index.php/awards. It is in Dutch but for anyone joining, we will do our best to make you feel home also if your Dutch is limited. Talent and intelligence are transnational indeed, aren’t they! Let’s go for the benefit of humanity in all its aspects…

Dheepan: an outstanding movie about refugees

dheepan movie Dheepan is somehow a ‘neutral’ movie about refugees as it concerns refugees from Sri Lanka; I worked with many of them in the ’90ties but today we concentrate on other regions as every reader knows. Technically this choice in the movie creates a healthy distance to emotions in actuality. And practically, it makes no difference. Refugees run for a reason, most often a quite serious one. And yes, they are surrounded by luck-seekers, criminals who have other reasons to flee and economic migrants. Making the difference between one and the other is an ideal but in practice not very easy. However the movie is not about asylum policies and dilemmas, it is about how people flee and become a refugee and how they experience the country in which they arrive.
In this movie, the Sri Lanka refugees find a house and a job in the banlieue of Paris, in one of the worst banlieues – I think the movie maker even wanted to point out that the refugees run from a war to end up in another one. It is as much a complaint against the ‘drugs in banlieue’ situation as about the refugee situation. Specifically, the total lack of law enforcement (no police or authorities at all) surprises the public.
I think the movie is brilliant in the way it depicts the refugees. I recognized every emotion, both in daily life and in the history of violence and resistence that refugees from war and conflict areas bring with them – not as a choice but as a fact. My experience with that is both friendship and work and I found the movie Dheepan shiveringly realistic and very strong in the way of showing the emotional side.
As a former French teacher, I regretted that the refugees end up in England – to their satisfaction – and not somewhere else in France, a country I love. This is, of course, a biased view ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway the movie ends well, which in a world of problems is nice and more encouraging to go and watch the movie than the opposite.
What surprised me is that nowadays every discussion and debate in the Netherlands is about refugees but we were only 8 spectators: 8! in a large cinema. Sometimes I wonder how much indepth knowledge people want about reality – I see loads of over-emotional people and few people able to handle the complexity that comes with refugee issues. Let’s face reality even when it is not simple. Go watch the Dheepan movie, warmly recommended!

Amsterdam Heritage Days

amsterdam heritage days Today many ‘hidden’ monuments opened their doors, their treasures for the public in Amsterdam on the occasion of Amsterdam Heritage Days. Most of those monuments look like museums but they are not, they are used in ordinary working or private life every day. Imagine to live in places like that! For example the one on the picture (left), that by the way was only recently found: a ceiling dating back to 1585 (!), one of the oldest in Amsterdam and not comparable to anything that you have seen before…
Or the spectacular walls, mirrors and ceilings in the backpart of the Bartolotti house (1755) that is being restaured now to function as a museum and a place to gather.
huis bartolotti amsterdam heritage days ย huis bartolotti 2 amsterdam heritage days Ok it was a very very rich guy who built this – he inherited loads of money from an uncle in Italy, this was not for everybody in Amsterdam at that time. He spent the money well, leaving us a heritage that makes people happy. We stood in a long row to enter this place…. but it was worth it. If you visit Amsterdam, keep an eye on this; most problably it will be officially opened as a museum somewhere in 2016.
hammerstein advocaten amsterdam heritage days Another spectacular monument is the Hammerstein Lawyers Office in the 17th century ‘Golden Curve’ of the Amsterdam canals. It is difficult to describe the beauty of that place. Imagine it was your office! 17th and 18th century paintings, mirrors, doors and fireplaces… The marble entrance to the stairs is completely original from the 17th century.hammerstein advocaten 2 amsterdam heritage daysย  hammerstein advocaten 3

Thanks to organisations like the National Musical Instrument Fund, the Hendrick de Keijser association and Hammerstein Lawyers, both tourists and locals could enjoy many hidden treasures in Amsterdam. Amsterdam Heritage Day is a great tradition.

Amsterdam-Tel Aviv twinning at CIDI: pffff….

IMAG0205 I got an invitation to a meeting at CIDI about Amsterdam-Tel Aviv as potentially twinning cities, quite a heavy debate at this moment in Amsterdam because the leftist parties in our city council have turned against it out of fear to introduce the problems of that region to Amsterdam. A matter of overconfidence in the city council’s powers, by the way, because the problems of that region have affected our city already and will continue affecting Amsterdam regardless of any city council decision…
The main reason for me to go to the meeting was that CIDI invited Eytan Schwartz, the senior political advisor to the mayor for this issue, and Mickey Gitzin, member of the left-liberal Meretz party in the Tel Aviv city council. So this was an opportunity to get direct information from people involved, an opportunity not to be missed.
Arriving at the CIDI was the first painful moment. I pass the Anne Frank House and the Hollandse Schouwburg several times a week, and here I saw the same thing: the police protection unit that is now, in Amsterdam 2015, permanently there (see the picture above). A reality that does not become normal in our city that is so free in general…
Moreover I had to pass a guard, a special fence, a double door at the entrance and then I was in… and nobody seemed to bother. I expected some kind of reception but there was none. So as a new person I decided to direct towards the coffee corner just to give myself an attitude and I was not disappointed there, like in many places the women do the hospitality, they were very nice and made me feel more at ease.
The meeting did not disappoint me in the sense that the guests were brilliant. They explained very clearly what Tel Aviv is like, how they work, what they want to achieve (a great city for their citizens, not creating peace for the whole world but building a better day-to-day life which contains also ‘boring’ aspects like the sewing system). They showed that Tel Aviv is a vibrant and tolerant city that could exchange in many aspects with Amsterdam to the benefit of both cities. Their aim is not to do diplomacy but to come to practical solutions that work.
Also they impressed me with their explanation of how they deal with the complexity of the region they live in: they got very, very critical questions from the public at the CIDI meeting and they were capable to explain their private moral standards, dilemmas, decisions in a way that is rare to hear. I learned more from them in an hour than I learned in the whole last week and maybe even month. I love to learn so they made my day. I could have learned more, though…
The meeting did disappoint me when it comes to the point ‘public’. There were some people in the public who already seemed to know what they thought and approached the guests from Tel Aviv with questions that were not meant to get information but to make them ‘accountable’ for all Israeli politics. This was not just tiresome, it was also offensive and I felt embarrassed at several occasions. Two things they said surprised me in particular. 1. that Tel Aviv would have a right wing majority of 51%; a factual statement that anybody who prepares meetings would have looked up in advance but apparently that guy didn’t mind to do the preparation effort – so the guests explained, 31 seats in the Tel Aviv city council, 2 for Likud, 3 for religious parties, 5 seats in total, not exactly the alleged 51%. And 2. blaming Tel Aviv, a city of 450.000 inhabitants, for being inadequate in dealing with 60.000 refugees, while at this very moment the Netherlands, a country of 17 million people, is showing a hard attitude in European negotiations to invite just a few thousand refugees from the Mediterranean – some self reflection is useful at times!
What impressed me also emotionally is the remark of Eytan Schwarz about how he works on good things for citizens and ideals and many positive steps to make this world a better place and then is often confronted with negative emotions about Israel that are projected on him as a person; his self awareness and also his strength of vulnerability to say this in public. Wow. And the remark of Mickey Gitzin, short and to the point among all these prejudices of life in the Middle East commented on (my wording, not his) from Amsterdam sofas: talk less, listen more. So true. And it would have made this meeting so much more interesting because the guests had a lot to tell but not everybody was ready to hear, to listen, they just wanted to make their point about their opinion about Israel versus Palestine, and about perceived immorality of Israelians, even the guys in front of their nose, no dialogue nothing, very strange.
Thanks Cidi for organising. It was only 2 hours but I was dead tired after this meeting – not their fault and I learned a lot and also got inspired. But I also worry because of what I saw.
As I said above, the problems of that region have affected our city already and will continue affecting Amsterdam regardless of any city council decision, the meeting made that very clear… So the best the city council can do is to make sure that we will not loose the dialogue and to organise that we will meet as humans: not to discuss the big issues of world peace as long as we are not the UN-president, but to make the daily life of our citizens better with practical projects and solutions found across borders.

Taxi Teheran

taxi teheranย  How to make a movie that is only playing in a taxi and does not bore any minute? Taxi Teheran is a succesfull try-out of that concept although not by free choice alone. Jafar Panahi, maker of the movie and also its main character has a history of struggling with censure and oppression in his country Iran. He is not allowed to make movies during 20 years and this movie, Taxi Teheran, was made secretly and smuggled out of the country.
The movie is very funny with many surprising moments, and it has a groundtune of sadness underneath. As such, it is very Iranian: Iranians usually are well developed, social, bright and full of life, they know how to make the best out of difficult circumstances. But that does not mean that they do not feel the difficult circumstances, especially the oppression.
In Taxi Teheran we see a wonderful mix of people entering and leaving Jafar Panahi’s taxi. Even the concept ‘taxi’ in Teheran is different from other countries and that in itself creates unexpected situations. Taxi Teheran shows a lot of interesting interaction between a variety of inhabitants of Teheran. And it gives some great insights in the well developed double face of Iran, in survival and creativity against the odds.

A tribute to Charleston victims

tribute charleston victims

Tomb unknown slave New Orleans Made out of chains

Yesterday we were shocked by the death of 9 black people who were shot for the very reason of being black. This is the kind of tragedy that cannot be put into words – it is the downside of humanity, or should I say inhumanity. We cannot believe that it happened, but it did in Charleston, USA today. As a tribute to the victims, I re-publish a part of my diary about the international diversity conference in New Orleans 2006 (yes, shortly after hurricane Katrina). May the strength of people who were slaves, who protested against slavery and who protest against the remaining infections of that period, be blessed and reinforced. May their tears be dried by soulmates and friends.

tribute charleston victims

Tomb unknown slave New Orleans

Building by remembering (New Orleans, June 11, 2006)
By coincidence we walked into a church, just because the door was opened. It appeared to be the only door where in the time of slavery, banks were bought by free black people for slaves to sit upon. Outside of the church we find, unique in the USA, the grave of the unknown slave (the photo on top). A place that makes you silent. A sign of resistance, a sign of hope. It confirms the thesis of the Museum of Art, that the future is built by commemorating the past, not by forgetting it. The power to rebuilt a town like New Orleans can be found in that concept. Because it is sure that people will rebuild the town. And the question of the future is for whom they will rebuild the city (black or white).

I remember that we asked who was in the grave of the unknown slave. The answer was: no one in particular. So many slaves died here, they were buried all around so all of the ground in New Orleans is sacred, the church people said. This made me as silent as the Charleston murders did yesterday.

Green line Nicosia – Cyprus

green line nicosia saray hotel 4ย ย  nicosia green line saray hotel 5
Look at Nicosia – Cyprus from above in these pictures and you can easily see 2 cities here: the Turkish one, in front and the Greek one, further away.nicosia green line UN post Nicosia Invisible here, inbetween the two city parts lies the Green Line, a 100 meter large strip where the UN rules since 40 years (!) to separate the Greek Cypriots from the Turkish Cypriots… Easy to understand how bored the UN-soldiers are here, they just ride around in expensive UN-cars as there is nothing else to do. The fighting has stopped long ago and the frontier is even ‘open’ since 2003 with small steps forward that symbolize progress like the abolishment of giving stamps every time a person crosses the transit point; this step was the first result of the new peace negotiations that started 2 weeks ago. It lead to quite some confusion especially at the Turkish side: the protocol had to change but Turkish officials love stamps – clearly that was really a thing to give up for them ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway the international community was investing here at least 30 years in vain, paying for useless UN-presence, boycoting the North / Turkish side without any result. For how long will we continue to do so? And why?
Nnicosia green line greek soil versus turkish sideinicosia green line turkish soil versus greek sidecosia could be a beautiful and flourishing city but it is not because it has no heart but a Green Line, a real wall in the middle of it: see the pictures, where we walk on the Greek side with theTurkish Cypriot and Turkish flags on the old city walls, and the walk on the Turkish side limited by a sudden wall to stop us going to the Greek side: no entrance, no photographs allowed either by the way.
I found the transit point at Ledra Palace the most sad one I have seen so far, although there are several peace seeking initiatives in the buildings there (and also the German Goethe Institut as if nothing happened, very funny). This transit point is at the Greek side surrounded by despair, no investment, no renovation, and even 40 year old remains of fighting (kept there deliberately?):
nicosia green line house at ledra palaceย  nicosia green line remains of fighting close to ledra palace
Coming from the city of Amsterdam where we love to restore houses and to let original beauty come out at the max, I have to say my hands were itching to take on the job. But well, there is certainly a reason for the non-investment and Nicosia will stay a city without a heart untill the political problems are solved – I hope: soon!

 

Street cats in Adana (Turkey)

street cat in adanaย  Yesterday I wrote about the street cats in Cyprus; that they are somehow loved, although the fact that they exist in such large numbers shows that the Cypriots do not deal enough with this problem: http://grethevangeffen.nl/2015/06/02/street-cats-in-cyprus/. In Adana, however, the situation is worse. It can be seen from the street cats’ behaviour, they are afraid. It was almost impossible to take pictures of street cats because they would run away immediately like this very small and sad kitten street cats in adana - kitten it really panicked, terrible; it did not think ‘hey here is a friend that will give me some food’. The only cat I could photograph quitely was a sick cat, also quite sad: street cats in adana
If we think that animal behaviour is an expression of local values, there is quite some development work to do in Adana – they can learn from Cyprus or from Istanbul where things have developed better already for street cats: http://grethevangeffen.nl/2012/03/03/istanbul-and-its-street-cats/. When cats are either afraid or ill, local values need reflection!

Elections in Turkey

elections in turkey 0ย  Elections are coming up in Turkey and it is impossible to overlook them! I went to a trade mission in Adana and Mersin last week with the Dutch ambassador, his team and other entrepreneurs and we saw and heard the elections everywhere. Cars with loudspeakers shout out their messages: ‘Hey Adana’ and then the text of their campaign follows in a volume that forms an interruption for your conversation – just wait untill they passed to continue.
There are flags and banners everywhere, on the houses, over the street, over the river… think of a spot and the politicians did too.

Here some interesting pictures:
elections in turkey 2 CHP relatively modest on a roundabout;
elections in turkey 2 The ruling AK party: ‘Now I can go to university with my veil; they just talk, AK party acts‘;
elections in turkey 3 A big flag from the MHP party (grey wolves, a big party in Adana) and smaller – below the flag – a sign of the Saadet party: ‘not the European union but Islam union‘ (union is the same word as unity in Turkish);
elections in turkey 4 A big flag of the MHP over the road – busses and bigger cars can not go under it without touching the flag so it is damaged on the lower side but the effect is there I guess. In most countries this would be forbidden;
elections in turkey 5 Not everybody is good in flags: the wind has frustrated the Salih Demir message here…

In the Netherlands it happens that people forget to vote. I don’t think that can happen here. Nevertheless it does not make politics more popular in Turkey than in the Netherlands; most people that I asked did not like the overall political presence.

Why vote for Grethe as chair?

could use an update-jpg Follow my youtubes here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbzPkJaMyAX36DcgDfqAoSw

Mensa International is going steadily but slowly > it needs to speed up!
A more effective and faster reacting organisation; as a business leader I can realize this. We missed opportunities but now we can really grap the opportunities > gogogo!!!
Do you expect this from a chair of Mensa International, then vote for me:

  • More interaction between the national Mensaโ€™s, more international activities and a better learning community.
  • Less re-inventing of the wheel: clear and findable communication and presentation of solutions found.
  • Next step in our International Leadership Program: develop it further to the benefit of all countries.
  • Transparency and accountability in decision making.
  • Focus on what matters (Mensa International has limited sources) and be good and visible in that.
  • An Excom team that cooperates effectively including generations and cultures.
  • IBD meetings streamed worldwide for all members to be informed and inspired.
  • IBD meetings that inspire
  • Have fun while working – laugh while you achieve things together, I love that! Please join me ๐Ÿ™‚

Loin des hommes

loin des hommesย  I was withholding my breath all the time while watching this movie: Loin des hommes. Algeria 1954, the colonial war or freedom war or however you want to call it, is about to begin. A teacher who’s school is in the middle of nowhere in the Atlas mountains gets involved. He is not looking for that but fate is looking for him. He ends up in several unexpected half war half peace situations. The mountains in the middle of nowhere are much more populated than you’d think: they are full of life, love and fights. Both the rebels and the French find their way over the invisible mountain paths. Will he have to give up his dream, to teach the children how to read? The teacher is also confronted with issues of culture, religion and identity. His parents were from Andalusia, he himself has always lived in Algeria and now others see him as French. There is so much actuality in this movie, it is not just a historical picture. And there is lots of deep warm friendship from man to man in this movie, too. The pictures are stunning. Go there, if you want to see something different!

Workshop Fast Reading in a bookshop

CIMG4206kTonight I followed a workshop Fast Reading in a bookshop: De Nieuwe Boekhandel in Amsterdam Bos en Lommer. This bookshop is a great place, run by the inspiring owner Monique who has given a new meaning to the concept of a bookshop. Her bookshop, and the name nieuw/new is deliberate, is a place to meet. Book presentations, workshops, even your birthday party could take place in that shop. When my Diversity Shop edits new things, like we did this month with De karavaan en de kamelen: teams op het spoor (http://www.diversityshop.nl/nieuwe-producten/) we always have a presentation and a drink in De Nieuwe Boekhandel. So we have one on March 26th, please feel wellcome: http://www.diversityshop.nl/home-pm-27.html
I love Monique’s concept, it is vibrant and it has a great effect on the neighbourhood Bos en Lommer that can really do with some good entrepreneurs like Monique who invest in activities and relationships. What I like too is that De Nieuwe Boekhandel sells BoLo products, products that give Bos en Lommer an identity. Look in the left shelve of the picture and you see some of them.
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Brandnew was the grey BoLo sweather so I bought one immediately. I wanted to show this sweater to you but first my Kater Aak sat on it (he liked it too) >>>

After a while. he let go and I could make a better picture showing the Amsterdam touch ๐Ÿ™‚
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