Where streets have no names [anymore]

-one click away-

Yesterday my eyes saw a documentary about the lost city of Detroit, USA. I was stunned about this wasted property and thought about a friend who told me he was a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen because he sang about the American Crisis back in the eighties. My friend was from Groningen and saw the same thing going on, unemployment and people moving away from the countryside towards metropools. He became a friend when he settled in Renkum-city. He had seen the world by that time and learned from the experience.

Googling the topic I found out about 50 modern city’s are abandoned last century. Finally nature takes over and streets have no names anymore. Who wants to go there …

Being in Peking

Being in Peking

Another thing stroke me: people were talking about regaining the wastelands for the use of farming. I’ll hope the ground is fresh and clean, not poisoned by industrial use of the area. Modern builded cities in China are know to suffocate children by their poluted air. The chances for lungcancer are 2 or 3 times higher then in the countryside.

Brings us to the next topic: what if one lives in these urban area’s, there are still people leaving their birthplaces to search redemption in big cities all over the world … rumor goes more Ethiopia-trained doctors are living in Chicago then in Ethiopia.  Better call them Utopia-trained doctors in that case.


1985 – Bono mission trip


Strangely Ethiopia is the place which got Bono [U2] inspired of writing ‘where streets have no name’. During a concert, Bono said that the song is about judgement. He and his wife travel on a mission trip to Ethiopia every year. In this country, your class determines the street you live on. So just by knowing the name of your street, someone is already prejudging you. “Where the Streets Have No Name,” is a place that Bono longs for where people are not prejudged in this manner.

Live aid brought up £150 million (approx. $283.6 million) and wanted to stop famine in Ethiopia before the end of the year. They send all the food and trucks and else at the beginning of the rainy season, most food got piled up in storrages. Back then Eritrea was part of Ethiopia and got the harbours, but Eritrea and Ethiopia were in war for independance for 30 years. What caused the famine in the first place. transformation

One could easily say July 13th 1985 wasn’t the day music changed the world. Unfortunately it is war what changes the world, and war is the sum of all evils. People often say religion gives war. The truth is divisions come out of unwill to devide equal amongst  the other family, tribe or race.

Humans have the tendency to do right and wrong. In some people the dark side overrules them, other people have a strong force moving them to do the right things.

I myself traveled to Ethiopia in 1995 and saw a country in progress and met people wanting to share there bits and pieces of food and shelter with me.

Unfortunately there were areas where people lived of food aid for 2 generations. No one did anything until food arrived in trucks, they eventualy helped it unload…

My trip to Ethiopia started up a proces of Transformation fromout within …

Taking the Lead

Who’s Leading Who?

Take The Lead is a movie about dance teacher Pierre Dulaine who learns a group of kids to dance like stars. It may be obvious these kids face a lot of hardship in life. They are so called ‘problem kids’, but who wants to wear such a name with proud? Somewhere in the first quarter of the movie, teacher Antonio invites his dance partner Anna Rosh to come over. She walks down the stairs, starts up her music and starts dancing. But …  it takes two to tango. Although not ready he jumps in and they dance! Obviously, one of the more inspirational ones I’ve seen.

The tango in Scent of a Woman does the trick because Al Pacino played a blind man. An I quote Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade here: No mistakes in the tango, not like life. Simple, that’s what makes tango so great. You make a mistake… get all tangled up… just tango on.

Scent of a Woman

Scent of a Woman

Take The Lead is based on the real work of Pierre Dulaine, the story is retold and placed in  this time. When Anna started dancing during the Tango Scene, Antonio got this attitude like: ‘so you wanna dance, okay, I can do that …’ Most dances men take the lead and the women follow, but this was more like; ‘show me what you got’. And by doing so, they together inspire the youngsters who are watching. They start working hard and become better dancers themselves.

Transformational leadership triggers the motivation and performance of followers. 

  • Being a role model for followers inspires them and makes them interested. 
  • Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of followers, so they can improve bit by bit. 
  • Connecting the follower’s sense of identity and self to the path to take
  • Challenging followers to take greater ownership for their effort.
street tango

tango doorsteps Buenos Aires

Step out

Let’s step out and screen on the role models of this movie for a bit. Pierre Duvalain was a refugee from Palestine and Egypt. And started dancing when he was 14 in England. He developed the Dulaine method.

Antonio Banderas came as a poor young man to the film studio’s of Madrid and made it all the way up to Puss in Boots.

Anna Rosh came from Ukraine, but moved to SaintPetersburg. Anna become a winner of a local dance competition, and a few years later Saint-Petersburg champion and Russian national finalist multiple times in latin dance. For almost a decade, Anna was competed and won International ballroom events in Europe.

the bigger picture

the bigger picture

“So you dug all the crooks, restored all the sprengs … why you got no running water?” “Well … a couple kilometers away, they’re building a new city quarter on high grounds. It stops the rain from going into the ground and form a waterbuble down below or got transported this direction.”

Sounds like a ‘third world problem’ isn’t it? It isn’t … it is a ‘breaking ground’ problem which needs a groundbreaking solution.

And let’s face it: I’ve lived in a beautiful villa in Fèz, Morocco. When I asked my landlord what he did with his rainwater. The answer was: “I just flush it away.” Why? He didn’t want it on his property.

biggest picture

biggest picture

Last decade of the century this was common practice from the Netherlands all the way upstream untill Switserland. Everywhere more concrete and pavement is used and farmers drain their soil for economic reasons. Their machinery got bigger and sunk into the soil, that’s why …

So we need to look at the bigger picture …

Since people want to sit in their garden and drink their coffee outside, the newest trend is to cover the whole place with slabs. The municipality faces a new challenge because these gardens don’t absorb rainwater. And so invented new systems to gather these waters and slowly let them sink into the ground. 

Strange … using less pavement in gardens would do the trick anyhow. One would expect people would surround themselves with plants and nature once living in urban area’s. More and more people surround themselves with desertlike environments.

Modern Zen Scenery

Modern Zen Scenery

Their inspiration is the Japanese Zen garden, but they replace its fine gravel by pavement. Which is the exact opposite of its original design. Built to absorb water.

in Dutch

example: one needs 25 liters for every m2 of water collection; a terrace of 10mand a roof of 40m2 =50m2, needs 1250 liters of collection space.  One can lower a part of the garden 3×4 m with 10cm.  And … most households do not sit the gardens in front of their houses.

Back in the sixties people used conversation pits for these reasons. During rainy seasons people didn’t sit outside anyway.

new era, new approach

new era, new approach

With all these wadi’s in the city, people start up city gardening … and city quarters get transformational. Not mentioning the people of Green Guerilla, they revolutionize public spaces by throwing ‘bombs’ of flowerseeds on several location in urban area’s. They’re pretty serious about it, I like them very much for their funfactor.


Royal Water

Last summer I visited Royal Brewery Grolsch in Enschede with my brothers in law. [not mentioning them will fill the comment box below…] They were proud to pronounce producing environmental friendly. They rebuilded the factory in 2004 on a different location, so they could make it ahead of the future.

It might be well known the Netherlands has no shortage of water at all. It’s in our name and gravity makes water run to lower parts. But … Grolsch didn’t want to waste water. In 2015 Grolsch wanted to reduce 25% of it’s water consumption. Not including the water to make beer from, most likely the want these results up with 25%. Grolsch sat its target for 7 years.

Since it was a rainy day, I asked the tourguide what they did with rainwater? Although he knew all the ins and outs of his factory he couldn’t give me an answer. They just let is flush away?

Made me wonder … what do factories with sky water and since we were talking about the topic earlier this blog what does the paperindustry do with all its water? They claim to be enviromental friendly but how do they use their biggest gift of nature: water?

Case studies show that in Renkum’s township there are two main purchasers of water: Vitens and Parenco. Vitens is the water company and Parenco a paperfactory. Do not be mistaken: the factory is allmost as big as the town itself.

So this weeks quest would be; what do they do with their rainwater?

Because the other grazy thing is: the municipality of Renkum transformed its underground water infrastructure completey. They opened up streets to set other parts under water during rainy days, so called wadi’s. Kids started complaining for it was their playground and parent thougt is was sewage water…

Which it wasn’t, it just got a little dirty from running over the streets.

So they opened up the wadi’s and made an underground sedimentation system.

The idea was as very old, the implementation quite new. From the first days of using water as an energy source, the millers dug out brooks and springs. [AnnO 1600]


dig, duck, dug

The Dutch language provides words for these: Spreng or Sprang, these are menmade wells.

Although the Netherlands have enough water the land will dry out if all water effluxes.

What if we build factories which not only use rainwater, but purify it as wel? Take Ford for example, they drain water cleaner than it lands on their roof.

 Related articles

Wolfheze's Stream

nice trails

Where ever one looks online, a huge piece of the MTB trail is missing. And it might be the best part as well! It ads a couple of kilometers extra to the route and it is completely marked too. When looking on MTB-routes, nobody seem to know. The strangest thing is, it starts at one of the official parkingplaces.

Wolfhezer Brook Postcard

It is a circle around of what we call: Old Wolfheze [AnnO 800]. Wolfheze was one of the oldest villages of the Netherlands but the Spanish Army burned it to the ground in 1585.  The only building remaining was the wild forsters house but was destroyed by flames too. So no one knew were the village was until mid 1800’s.

Nowaday’s a beatifull gate marks the entrance towards the area. The area is so beautifull there was an paintersvillage situated compared to Barbizon. The place were Vincent van Gogh grew into being.

One can find Vincent van Gogh at the Kröller-Muller museum on the National Parc Hoge Veluwe. One of the entrances is on the other end of the MTB trail at Schaarsbergen. This is the best entrance for cyclists, for it takes another 10Km through the park towards the Museum.

same place

same place

Oosterbeek and Wolfheze developed themselves into artist colonies. Its landscape contrasted to the rest of the country. Their painting was a combination of the Old School and English aquarel style.

The museum at Castle Doorwerth has a lot of these paintings. Doorwerths Castle is situated at the most southern point of the Mountainbike Track Oosterbeek.

MTBroutes.nl - MTB Route Oosterbeek (2)

Castle Doorwerth

Stream Valley Renkum

Mill Brook Renkum

Watermolenklein.jpg  418×329

Watermill near Renkum

Why was such a beautifull area crowded with industry in the first place, one could ask. The answer is quite simple: it just grew there. The first activity in that area goes all the way back to the 17th century. Somewhere in the archives, the city counsel of Arnhem forbade people to plant another watermill in its North area. This decree comes from the year 1592.


Open Air Museum – Arnhem

From that era until 1875 there are reports of at least 7 different mills at Renkum’ streams. The total of papermills on the Veluwe would be approximately 170.

Some of them got later on a different purpose, such as pressing oil or grinding grain. The streams on the Veluwe gave water of such a purity that the paper coming from these mills was wanted all over Europe. Very clean and white paper it was. All the brooks were cleansed by hand, most of them were dug by hand as well. One says this is unique in the world, but I’ve seen documentaries of canals in Ethiopia and Jemen which are dug by hand too. The uniqueness of these region is that the water isn’t so much used for irrigation, like in those area’s. It’s main purpose was to turn the waterwheels, so the pulp could be hammered.

Since the mills used water, not all of them were driven by water. A couple of them were windmills.

Last reports are one of the mills was completely renovated and brought back into bussiness. During operation Market Garden and the Battle of Arnhem it was shot into pieces, and its function replaced by electric machinery.

But, needless to say, a miller wants his mill back. My grandpa was one of them, and my uncles never stopped talking about their mill.

In 1846 the Van Gelder family had aquired monopoly and started producing by steam engine. This factory grew bigger and bigger, changed from hand to hand and was finally relocated towards the river Rijn. They produced mainly paper for newspapers.

The other paperfactory is located in Heelsum on the other side of Renkum. They produce ‘high tech’ paper, for graphic design, artists and for example glasfiber paper.

Two factories, one choose the path of quantity, the other the path of quality. Off course is the produced newspaper of high quality too. But … the demand for such dropped with the digital revolution.

Like the invention of bookprinting caused a revolution, the digital era is revolutionair too. Sometimes causing the first originated industries to shut down. Why would one buy newspapers anymore if all of its content is also online too?

But … recent reports tell us they are thinking of starting up the second machine, to produce packaging paper. Parenco uses 100% recycled paper in its process. And … they are exporting to all European countries again.

Paper Art - Jan IJzendoorn

Paper Art – Jan IJzendoorn

Paratrooper Airdrop wide 300dpi

Paratrooper Airdrop

Close to Oosterbeek’s Mountain Bike Track are our Dutch Air Devisions Headquarters. Every year at the Battle of Arnhem’s remembrance ceremony these guys skydive unto Ginkels Heath.

Only recently they stopped tandem jumping with Veterans. Most likely their medical staff forbade them to jump out of airplanes any more. So we just have to do it with the young guns of the Air Mobile Brigade. They were new to the scene of modern warfare back in the ’90’s and because they constanly jumped out of airplanes they were nicknamed Slight Moron Brigade.

Forest, Forest Gump

Gump, Forest Gump

Our national Forrest Gumpers.

Nothing proofed otherwise, until…

Years passed since the nineties, 9-11 came and, in the midst of chaos, we were ready for Afghanistan and Iraq. These guys we mocked were the first who gone there. And all of a sudden, although KTM Motor Bikes were standard, they started cycling again!

Legerfietsen in Nederland (3)

folded bicycles early version

But … they did not use the folding bikes like back in the old days:

cycle patrouille

cheer em up!

Tour de Afghançe did it’s first stage, a time trial through the streets of Tarin Kowt!!! 

It took 69 years until bicycles returned to the combat scenerio. 19 oktober 2009, the first official Cycle Patrol took place in Uruzgan, Afghanistan. Eyes popped out of old men’s skulls, children cheered an ran after our guys.

Like Mountain Biking was invented in the USA in the ’70, Cyclo Cross came out of Flanders in 1900.  

Again a time lap of 70+ years. 

But … the European Armed Forces used 29″ bicycles from the beginning as a standard.

But … fair enough: back in ’09, the 26″MT-Bike was standard and we took over the idea from the American Army…

But … look at these pictures of Montague-Bikes : it is the folded bike again!!!


capture the flag

PARATROOPER Folded 300dpi

Paratrooper Folded