History 3: Local AiREAS Eindhoven

AiREAS - Eindhoven

The complexity that we are dealing with became gradually clear. Not just from a purpose driven venture point of view that wants to co-create a healthy city in a multidisciplinary way. No, especially the impediments that block the way, caused by the ruling system and mentality of fragmented economic relationships and a society built around that. The “other” society, based on universal human values, demands totally different rules and interaction between the partners. Placing one complexity beside the other shows the tension that is being felt on either side. The only way to overcome this is by relying on the commitment of the partners, their belief that it is right what we do, the effort of each to bridge the paradigms and the challenge to keep them within the group by reassuring progress at any time. It is too easy to let go just to find that commitments dilute in the daily stress of the old money driven world in crisis. It takes much more courage for all involved to bridge the challenge and make it happen.

Note: The process has been given a new age educational name, the STIR loop. This tells about the loop directed out of the ruling system’s complexity to develop a complex venture outside, reflect about impediments and come back into the system with well founded arguments for system change. 

Half way
In January 2012 project commitments had been fixed but in May 2012 the government payment had not yet been received. The group was breaking up.  AiREAS founder decided to continue with the planned global announcement in June, rather than carrying it over the summer, as certain forces suggested.

Stress became high among the civil servants as the internal file had been delayed upon delay. Of course there was a sense of administrative fear that the AiREAS initiative was a prelude of a new age in which the amount of bureaucrats would be minimized. Right now we still had plenty in the Zeitgeist of government “caring” dominance. Severe reorganizations had been announced with 30% layoff. For the first time civil servants were not blessed anymore with contracts of a lifetime.

Some people saw the AiREAS initiative as an opportunity, a solution for the future, others as a challenging “game” but many also as a potential threat for the establishment or their personal position. All this played an “unspoken” part in the process where it was known that certain files would be parked away from internal approval, waiting for “better administrative times” or calmer waters. Keeping the pressure up was also helpful for those civil servants that had the task to make it happen. It is all work of human beings, some seeking just personal safety and others convinced in the need for change.

In June 2012 the financial means could not yet be guaranteed. The announcement day arrived. “How do we deal with this situation?” was a general sense. There was still a risk that the money was NOT going to be made available. No information was available on the whereabouts of the file or the status of its approvals. A global announcement was too much at this stage. Carrying the announcement over the summer recess would damage the groups trust too much so it was decided to take an intermediary ambition and make it “a city announcement”. CityTV was contracted to register the meeting. This camera eye of the world watching had a significant effect on the group. The 1 hour video registration is unique educational material now and can be watched here. Jean-Paul Close decided to put a header up front to explain the process as we can observe the struggle that people have when dealing with the two different paradigms, the blockage of the old over the new and the commitment shown to overcome the problems.

Note: The video is in Dutch. It will at one stage be subtitled when internationalization evolves.

The effect of the meeting was enormous. Commitments were reassured on camera. Some people were afraid to open their mouth and say something out of fear for negative consequences in their job. Others took the opportunity to express their enthusiasm of the process. Gerard de Groot, director at ECN says “In 20 years of professional executive career I have never experienced anything like this. This is unique”.

During the entire video we see initiator Jean-Paul Close go around the circle of people, asking every single person to reconfirm their commitment. “Yes, but” was often the answer. “Yes” as a human being wanting to commit, “but” because of unsolved impediments in the professional background. Discussion then evolved around advice on how to overcome the impediments and precedents that could be referred to. Not only government officials were confronted with impediments, also business officials and civilians.

The effect of this half way commitment, registered on TV, was that all people finally crossed the line to the new paradigm of co-creation, also those that had secretly blocked it in the background. Since this day it was real, not an individual battle of a single idealist but a group commitment. Founder Close received a lot of critical remarks after the encounter, showing how people had crossed over:

* a one man show
* how could you register with TV presence
* badly organized
* I wanted to be more present but didn’t know what to do
* we can do this better
* etc

The group reacted, especially local government. A date was set in October 2012 for the real announcement, the money would be truly freed, and the organization of the event would be done by the entire group, not just the founders. The halfway commitment became finally a full commitment.

It was time for founder Close to step back and watch how the group process organized itself powerfully towards October, allocating resources and commitments. The group had taken over and took responsibility. Local AiREAS Eindhoven had become a fact. Co-founder Marco van Lochem took on the challenge to coordinate, manage and chair the global October announcement.