History 4: Local AiREAS Eindhoven

AiREAS - Eindhoven

Full commitment

After the stressful, confrontational session in June, the AiREAS group had taken full responsibility and organized itself. The date for the announcement had been set on October 11th, 2012. VP and co-founder Marco van Lochem managed the organization and chaired the formal global announcement. The video material is again in Dutch. The happening occurred in the city hall, occupying the entire council theater. All kinds of people were invited from other regions, the original national participants from the first AiREAS encounter in June 2011, etc.

The first speaker invited to give some background was founder Jean-Paul Close. He had stepped into the background to allow the group process to deploy itself to the full.

His speech was emotional. He reflected about his personal choice to initiate the process of change in order to pass a society on to his children that respects and enhances human values. It had taken over a decade to come to this day in which all significant members of a complex society announced to take responsibility together to co-create a healthy community instead of just financial benefits.

The second speaker was the brave city councilor Mary-Ann Schreurs who had sent the brief first connecting message “Yes! We want this” 15 months earlier.

Her speech reflected about the word “responsibility” mentioned by Jean-Paul. She argued that you may want to take responsibility but also need to be able to do so. It is not just a matter of choice but also need, guts, opportunity and room for execution. Every single partner in the process had gone in their own way through this and today they had all together arrived at this point, which made the process so unique.

Only two days prior to the formal encounter the city council had finally overcome all the expected and unexpected internal impediments and formally approved the investment. It had been a nerve wrecking experience for the people in charge internally. During the encounter they could eye now relaxed, relieved and proud of themselves. The smiles show their feelings, especially when we contrast it with the tension in June. All obstacles had been concurred and happiness was great.

This shows also in the next video in which journalist and interviewer Debbie Langelaan asks the diversity of partners about their commitment.

At the table are executives from local government (city and province), technology (Philips, ECN and Imtech) and participating universities (eg. Alfred Stein from Twente). Most impressive is the fact that all have answered to the civilian call to take responsibility together for the healthy city development by facilitating the process with policy, money, technology and scientific knowledge.

The entire process had been both dramatic, exciting and nerve wrecking. But in the end every one agreed that it had been done in record time of 2 years. If we compare that with traditional project lead times in political and economical arenas, involving democratic decision making processes, tender spec development, consultancy work, lobbies, public tendering, etc we reduced an average of 30 years to just 2. In addition, for the first time in 200 years “health and environment” had been put on the agenda in a world where consequence driven healthcare had been dominant. There was a lot to be satisfied about that day, a true celebration.

But now we needed to get to work and make it happen. The operational phase had started and now we needed to prove that we could indeed work together in co-creation.