Rebuild by Design: New Dutch Solutions for U.S. Water Challenges

‘The San Francisco Bay Area needs to prepare for the consequences of climate change, there is just no excuse.’ – Henk Ovink, said to the audience at the Netherlands Consulate-General in San Francisco.‘Building a resilient region is about more than technology. It is about community collaboration.’

Crissy Field w/12 ft. Sea Level Rise

Crissy Field w/12 ft. Sea Level Rise Credit: Nikolay Lamm

This is how Henk Ovink Sr. Advisor for Secretary Donovan of HUD Hurricane Sandy Task Force, explained his vision of how communities can arm themselves against disasters such as the Sandy superstorm. The crowd gathered for an evening featuring Ovink and his story of how his Rebuild By Design initiative came to be – and why it was listed among CNN’s 10 Best Ideas of 2013.

Hugo von Meijenfeldt addresses MH17

Hugo von Meijenfeldt addresses MH17

The evening began on a somber note, however, as the Netherlands held a national day of mourning. Consul-General Hugo von Meijnfeldt asked for a moment of silence in respect and honor of all the victims of the MH17 crash where 194 Dutch citizens lost their lives. The reality of the situation set a serious tone for the rest of the evening.

The Netherlands has been well known for building effective water management strategies despite an abundance of water and being partly located below sea level. Leveraging the expertise of one of the Netherlands’ best water and spatial planning strategists, Secretary Donovan called on Henk Ovink, then the Netherlands’ Deputy Director General for Spatial Planning and Water Management.

Consulate General of the Netherlands

AT&T Park w/ 12ft. Sea level rise Credit: Nickolay Lamm

What followed could be best described as a unique exploratory collaboration culminating in Rebuild By Design, a design competition initiative that was named one of CNN’s 10 Best Ideas of 2013. The goal of Rebuild by Design is to find the best teams and projects for redesigning areas vulnerable to climate change, to be more resilient.

Drawing on the ‘Dutch Approach’, an emphasis on a holistic, integral approach working with cross-industry expertise, Rebuild By Design has helped build local and cross-continent partnerships with the goal to help design solutions for a resilient New York. With consequences of climate change such as sea level rise a reality in the Western United States too, Ovink urged the San Francisco audience to join him in his mission to roll out Rebuild By Design across the United States. Sandy, Ovink explained, provided the momentum to help make the impact of climate change become more understandable.

As a hurricane and post-tropical cyclone, Sandy was responsible for 117 deaths in the U.S. and more fatalities in surrounding areas.

For those who experienced Sandy, climate change became a bleak reality, said Ovink. He then presented a question to the Bay Area-based audience: why would we wait for a disaster in the Bay Area instead of proactively dealing with it? ‘Sea level rise and droughts will have a big impact on the Bay and in this progressive and intelligent area which is an example for the rest of the world. There is no excuse not to act today.’

Written by  Michiel Feijt, Water Trainee at the Consulate General of the Netherlands, San Francisco
Edits by Anne Donker and Bo-Peter Laanen

July 25th, 2014 by

Peter Laanen, only one step outside of the Consulate General

Originally Appeared on Hugo’s Blog

The celebration of Peter Laanen’s next career adventure was attended by many of his Dutch and American family, colleagues and business partners. The long list of guests proves that his network is dazzling.

The True DutchmanPeter has been the director of the Netherlands Business Support Office (NBSO) since 2007. After his departure this month, he will continue to support business ventures under the name Laanen The Brand. In short: goodbye to Laanen from the Consulate, hello to Laanen the Consultant.

Peter’s presentation about the West Coast’s do’s and don’ts has been a longtime favorite among Dutch entrepreneurs who decide to take their business to the States. Peter always warns them: don’t joke with police officers or about politics and religion. However, Peter himself is known for his great sense of humor and he will joke about anything and everything in private.

During his time at the Consulate General, he helped hundreds and hundreds of Dutch businesses get started in the US. Many of their start-up stories ended in success. The number of recommendations and thank you’s are countless.

Peter’s outstanding business achievements in the Bay Area can be summarized in one sentence, his motto: Failure is the basis for success. And success he has. In November 2012 he was honored by the Netherland-America Foundation in Southern California. And just last month the California State Senate honored him with a resolution to commend him on his work to improve trade relations between California and the Netherlands.

Another one of Peter’s mottos: Exception reinforces the rule. The rule that a NBSO can’t operate from within a Consulate General or Embassy is a living example. With the closing of the NSBO and Peter’s departure, his work will partly be taken over by other Consulate General staff.

Peter and I had neighboring offices at the Consulate General. That was going to end anyway because very soon all our staff will be moving around, with mobile offices: a computer, laptop or iPad and clean work desks. We will be making room for small enterprises and Dutch start-ups: an orange hub in San Francisco. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Peter back in our offices every week.

July 2nd, 2014 by

Dutch Racing Game SXPD takes US by storm

SXPD is currently the number one racing game in the US Appstore. It is a cross-over between a high-octane racing game and a state of the art digital comic. The game was Developed by Dutch gaming Studio Little Chicken Game Company and published by OneBigGame

Like all other OneBigGame games, it was conceived pro bono for OneBigGame’s charity. Industry legend David Perry (creator of the Earth Worm Jim series) supervised the development: “When OneBigGame asked me to contribute to their charity initiative, I took inspiration from my favorite 8-bit game of all time, 3D Deathchase on the ZX Spectrum. This game is a tribute to that masterpiece as well as a unique game in its own right, bringing together comic books and games in a new way.” Art Director for the project was well-known graphic novelist Duke Mighten.

The game was recently picked by pocket gamer as part of it’s weekly round-up. “The combat racing is as frantic as it should be, while the storytelling immerses you in a world of anarchic terrorism and shootouts. It’s as good as it looks, basically.”

SXPD can be purchased  for 1.99 USD or 1.79 EUR from the Itunes store (iPad only)

More information: http://sxpd.com

May 23rd, 2014 by

Games [4Diversity] Jam’14 USA hosted @CGSF

 

Jammers with Consulate General Staff Members Ard van der Vorst & Bo-Peter Laanen

Jammers with Consulate General Staff Members Ard van der Vorst & Bo-Peter Laanen

The previous week saw San Francisco host the Game Developers Conference (GDC) at the Moscone Center. As an extension of the GDC, the Consulate General of the Netherlands in San Francisco is proud to have hosted Games [4Diversity] Jam’14 USA, a program of two 12-hour days devoted to creating games focused on incorporating feminine and LGBT aspects to games, this weekend, March 22-23, 2014. With only a few video games willing to show or allow displays of same-sex relationships, Menno Daan from Games [4...] Jam (http://www.studiolapp.nl/ LinkedIn) believes the game industry needs to see more diverse content.

Jammers present gameplay

Jammers present gameplay

The demographics of game developers themselves are changing, seeing more women and LGBT developers joining the community, and its time to see that reflected in game content. With 20 developers at the Games [4Diversity] Jam, groups were made to create game concepts, then bring that concept into a game prototype.

Four groups were able to produce four different game prototypes, check out those on the Games [4...] Jam website here, under Games [4Diversity] Jam’14: http://www.gamesjam.nl/games/ 

March 24th, 2014 by

Dutch Coders help develop Facebook’s new Hack programming language

Earlier today, Facebook announced it has released an open source version of it’s new programming language for HHVM named Hack. (Available here)

This announcement is particularly exciting for the Dutch Community in Silicon Valley, as two individuals from the Netherlands were particularly instrumental in making Hack possible. Erik Meijer of Applied Duality (Twitter: @headinthebox, applied-duality.com) has been recognized as part of the core team to develop Hack. As an early adopter of the language, Alexander Mols (Twitter: @iam_asm89) helped develop Hack as well.

Hack is said to interoperate with PHP, the popular scripting language suited for web development, seamlessly and has been fully integrated into Facebook:

“We have deployed Hack at Facebook and it has been a great success. Over the last year, we have migrated nearly our entire PHP codebase to Hack, thanks to both organic adoption and a number of homegrown refactoring tools.”

The usefulness of Hack lies in it’s ability to speed up the time code is written and shipped by engineers, which for a company the size of Facebook will make a big impact.

See Facebook’s announcement regarding Hack here: https://code.facebook.com/posts/264544830379293/hack-a-new-programming-language-for-hhvm/

March 20th, 2014 by



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