I'm watching the final third of Denmark Finland at the 2020 European Football Championship as I'm writing this. Poor Eriksen. We didn't see it, watching the match — how do you call that? — in a live replay. But then there's Twitter, so I could avoid them having to see a healthy human collapse on the field. Now, live, Hrádecký stops a penalty kick. What a match.
This week, for me, felt like an almost complete return to 'normal.' I understand I'm fortunate, privileged. I'm only getting my first shot in the coming days. Still, with the temperatures going up and infections down, society in the Netherlands is undoubtedly opening up again.
It was wonderful to do some things I hadn't done in over a year. Such as losing my wallet unnoticed at the train station. Five minutes into the train, I get a call from a random person who's found it. She's googled my name, called half my colleagues, and promises to leave it at the station's information desk.
The clerk, when I return, tells me the lady that dropped off my wallet was the friendliest person he's seen in years. He can't get over it. I've already been googling about gifts you can send to a mobile number — coffee, flowers — but all I can find is a cinema gift card. They also reopened, after all. All this before 9:30 am.
We moved into our new offices at PLNT, the Leiden Centre for Innovation. It's a great spot with a beautiful rooftop terrace. It even has chickens on the roof. When I left on Friday, I got a little box with three oddly shaped eggs to take home. It feels the return has been to a better normal.
These newsletters have been getting a bit structured over time. Focused. Too less irregular. Apologies. Three topics left, all unconnected: an art walk, a book, and a podcast.
An art walk. Earlier on Saturday, I participated in House of Misconceptions, a 3-hour art walk through De Kooi, a neighborhood at the edge of Leiden. HoM is a collaboration between Maartje van der Woude of the Van Vollenhoven Institute, artist collective Liquid Society (especially Abdalla Daif), and students of the honors program Art and Social Transformation of Leiden University. They explored themes of belonging, otherism, migration, inclusion, and exclusion in Leiden.
The walk was superb. Individually or in pairs, all students had created creative interpretations of their community research. Their work spanned various art disciplines: Poetry, painting, street art, photography, video, fashion. I liked the jacket that was made of perspectives on a neighborhood. On the outside, the prejudices from people not living there. On the inside, the opinions of the inhabitants themselves.
Abdalla and his colleague Sven turned what could have been an outdoors poster presentation into a genuinely involving experience. Abdalla had created a wonderfully timed choreography for the walk, which turned our group of fifty-something people into a fluidly moving flock. Sven added an uplifting soundscape.
In September, the next version of House of Misconceptions will be one of the cornerstones of our Festival 2030. I had been looking forward to this already — Abdalla and Maartje are magnificent people to work with. Their students were a joy to teach. Now, I can't wait to see how this will evolve over the summer.
As an aside, as should be, the interactions with passers-by and residents attracted by the buzz added an extra layer to the experience. A curious student of the local vocational school approached us, connecting immediately to the idea of fieldwork, which she was about to do for her studies. The resulting connection across a broad educational divide (prestigious university, local school) was rare and unique. That doesn't happen on Zoom.
(The third cornerstone project, which I visited on Thursday, focuses primarily on making this connection between the global elite and people deeply embedded in a place and their knowledge and experiences.)
A book. Did I write about The Ministry for the Future already? Probably! I finished it last week, and it has genuinely changed things in me. One: apart from a few short stories, I hadn't read science fiction in decades. What an excellent medium to talk about the future! And about the now.
Two: For a long time, I have been a climate skeptic. Not in the sense that I do not believe in climate change caused by humans, but that I thought we would fix this relatively quickly once the urgency was high enough. Shakier with every conversation, I now understand that climate action is currently the one overarching challenge. And as it touches on everything, it means we need to fix everything. In his book, Kim Stanley Robinson talks about privacy, finance, geoengineering, migration, and a wide range of other topics, and he makes them make sense in a climate context.
Three: I've always wondered how to put my mile-wide-but-inch-deep interests to good use. While I haven't figured that out yet, a book that is equally wide and deep and furthermore engaging and insightful shows me there are ways.
A podcast. To live up to my mile-wide-but-inch-deep attitude, I'm tipping my toes in North Korea and hacking and global networks of crime with the BBC World Service's entertaining The Lazarus Heist. The broad-ranging show explores the criminal (cyber) exploits of the hermit kingdom. Some of these exploits — the Sony Pictures hack, the Bangladesh Bank robbery — made global headlines. Beyond these headlines, there are extraordinary stories. Recommended!
There was more this week, much more! But I'll keep that for another time. It's Sunday by now, game day. Holland is playing Ukraine. The player's bus of Ukraine just drove through our street on its way to the stadium. (I presume, or they are going drinking in our favorite bar in the forest at the end of the road. After all, it is open.)
As always, thanks for reading, replying, subscribing, sharing, and all the rest. Have a great week, and see you next!