World

10/16/2009

Gratis Tanken


Gratis_Tanken translates as  "free gasoline", but the word “tanken” (as in "gas tank") sounds just like the Dutch "denken" (thinking). The title is thus very close to 'Free Thinking', and that's what it's all about. Filling up your tank excites everybody, and in this case, Gratis_Tanken is about mentally refilling your mind.

Gratis_Tanken is an experimental format for public debate. The public is not physically there, but is kept informed and committed in several different ways. Ten years ago, we sent out rich e-mails (at the time a very new concept) with the results of the debates.

Much like with Facebook or Twitter today, the broader public was able to interact by replying to quotes written by journalists who had attended the sessions. Although each Gratis_Tanken session could have a central topic, the format, as the title would suggest, was always most effective for the investigation of free thoughts.


Design Tanking

The recent session, a cooperation between the Rotterdam Designplatform and the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, brought all the nominees of a design prize together. We talked about entrepreneurship, education, and the future of contemporary design.

Personally, I doubted the format would still work, but I was positively surprised. It felt like a dinner with close friends who all understood each other very well. That may sound simplistic, but for a semi-public event it was extraordinary.

In my self-satisfied mood I paid the Polaroid man in the bar we visited afterward. He not only took this picture, but also gave roses to the Dutch nominees Lonnie van Ryswyck and Christien Meindertsma. In the tacky Polaroid photo above, you can see Jeroen Dekkers (DPR) and me in between.

Im memoriam: Ineke Schwartz

The occasion of this publication is a sad one as well: in the first image above you can see that Ineke Schwartz moderated Gratis_Tanken with me. Ineke died of a serious disease more than five years ago.

I still miss her, and I know that I am not alone. Ineke was a very good chairman, and a true inspiration to me. I am proud to have worked with her, and she is one of the reasons that I keep on Gratis Tanken.

Meanwhile I have done two more Gratis Tanken, in a slightly bigger group.
In the above picture we are in Breda, with leaders of the cultural sector. In the picture beneath, we are in Schieblock, for an Nai discussion on Traditionalsm.