Saturday, October 02, 2021

Batik Day 2021: Leading the World of Fashion


 For awhile now I have engaged with various groups to work on ‘the problem of fashion’, an out-of-control industry that over-produces, pollutes, and emits life-threatening amounts of carbon dioxide. For decades I have argued for a more inclusive definition of fashion, or better said perhaps, for the recognition that the fashion behemoth that we currently know and reify, is just a culturally-specific narcissistic fat-cat that needs to be cut down to size to allow the clothing expressions of all other cultures to flourish once again. How to accomplish this goal?


This entails, on the one hand, helping people recognize that ‘fashion’ is not a ‘thing’ out there, but a creation of our own doing. The real human universal is not ‘fashion’, but creativity in dressing, regardless of how you adorn your body, regardless of your cultural medium. That is what we have in common with all other people, not a globalized industry.

 

On the other hand, the task entails helping people to recognize that the clothing produced by the industrial system is an expression of deep psychic poverty and wafer thin superficiality, all in the interests, perhaps, of deflecting our thoughts away from the great harm that it is doing to our planet. It is a status commodity and pretends to help us construct dreams and myths about who we would like to be in this world, but in reality most is cheap, disposable junk. Coming from the West, where cheap, disposable clothing has been normalized, it is challenging to figure out how to convey to people just how deeply meaningful clothing in other cultures can be, has been, and sometimes still is. 

 

Today I saw an image that captures the essence of what I would like to convey: a poster about Javanese batik inspired by the spiritual and philosophical essence of batik. My photographer and artist friend in Central Java, Mas MJA Nashir, sent the image to me in a chat this morning. Memayu hayuning bawana means laku secara spiritual, to perform in a spiritual way, he explained. Literally it means to ‘beautify this beautiful world’ (mempercantik bumi yg cantik). The beautifying that he meant runs so deep. It means to perform in a beautiful way towards the earth, towards nature and towards life (terhadap Bumi, terhadap Alam, terhadap Kehidupan). Life for the Javanese, for the batik maker, for the batik lover, is beauty.  The root word in memayu and hayuning, is the same, he pointed out; it is ayu, ‘beautiful’. Memayu is ‘to make beautiful’  (Hayu=Ayu=Cantik . Memayu = membuat cantic). 

 

“I always remember Mas Ismoyo saying that memayu hayuning bawana is the essence of batik for the Javanese,” Mas Nashir confides. Mas Ismoyo is a mutual friend and master batiker, living in Yogyakarta, whose studio has been an inspiration for Nashir and me for more than a decade, a place where we go for stimulating conversations and to get in touch with spiritual roots. I always leave that Eden in a spirit of peace and wonder. 

 

I perceive their batik workshops as teaching the essence of the environmental movement: loving the earth and all creatures in it. This is what inspires all the batiks of Mas Ismoyo and his beautiful wife, a master batiker in her own right, Mbak Nia.

 

Mas Nashir has a small patio behind his house. During the corona lockdown he has been fixing it up and collecting plants to decorate it. “I made this photograph this morning and used it in my poster to celebrate Batik Day,” he wrote.


His poster is inspired by Mas Ismoyo’s words and the workshops that he gives with Mbak Nia, by the plants that Nashir tends, by Nashir's love for batik – both his mother and his brother are involved in the batik world – and not least, by his cultural activism. Nashir’s soul is dedicated to memayu hayuning bawana; it is what he longs for in this world of rapacious business, this Anthropocene. He knows that Anthropos can do the opposite, can beautify instead of making sacrifice zones of peoples, cultures, nature and even our future.

Suddenly tears prick my eyes. The penny drops.  This poster shares what I would like to convey to people about indigenous clothing traditions of other cultures. Depth, beauty and going further than ‘doing no harm’: doing good to planet, nature and people; living a spiritually true life; aspiring to beauty.  To wear beauty, to create beauty, to insist on beauty. That is when you have desirable clothing. 

 

 

 


(blog dedicated to Sara Arnold, who understands)

Friday, October 01, 2021

Why Racism in Fashion goes deeper than you think: An interview with Sandra Niessen by Safia Minney


October 2021


Safia Minney, MBE, is an award-winning social entrepreneur & recognised for the company she founded, People Tree, a pioneer of sustainable fashion. She led the business as Global CEO for 20+ years in Japan & Europe. Safia is an advisor, executive coach and author of many books including; ‘Slave to Fashion’, campaigning to eradicate modern day slavery in the fashion industry and ‘Slow Fashion - Aesthetics meets Ethics’. Safia recently launched www.REALsustainability.org  to promote sustainable living and leadership and joined other business leaders inspired by XR to establish www.businessdeclares.org.


Sandra Niessen (PhD) is a Canadian/Dutch anthropologist whose research on clothing and textiles among the Batak people of North Sumatra, Indonesia generated insights into the impact of global fashion and economics on indigenous dress. Since retiring from academia, she has become active in the Research Collective for Decoloniality and Fashion (RCDF) and Fashion Act Now (FAN). 





1. What is the relationship between Western fashion and racism?

The colonial era cleaved the world in two; the substratum of diversity became colonizers on the one hand, and the colonized on the other. Throughout the history of the world there have always been power hierarchies, but with colonialism there was, for the first time, one that operated globally to create a single binary. Decolonial theorists refer to it as the ‘colonial difference’.  Clothing, a powerful signifier of status and identity, became perhaps the most immediate expression of that colonial difference, to the extent that the first definitions of fashion slotted the phenomenon of ‘fashion’ and the practice of fashion on the ‘civilization’ side of the binary in contradistinction to what was considered ‘uncivilized’: ‘tribal’, ‘primitive’, ‘heathen’ and ‘lacking in’ history,  fashion and so on. In short, the binary was constructed on a foundation of race, with the White race embodying the superior component. This binary has continued to operate in the fashion industry. 


While the absence of black, indigenous and people of colour in boardrooms and on runways today is usually pointed to as evidence of racism in fashion, the extent of fashion’s racism goes much, much deeper, and has become so normalized and expected that it is rarely consciously perceived. Nevertheless, all wearers of fashion currently support it, willfully or not. This conceptual blindness is evidence of a powerful capacity of the fashion industry to shape thought. Fashion places emphasis on visual products: style change, trends and seasonality all skillfully presented through fashion advertising including the catwalk. The behind-the-scenes of fashion are kept hidden and rarely seen by consumers, until egregious human rights abuses, of which the collapse of Rana Plaza is an example, make them visible for a moment. This happened again during the COVID-19 layoffs. The fact that millions of people are chained, through poverty, to a system to make garments that are not of their own culture should be proof enough of global injustice, based on race, regardless of the pay rate. It is also to the Southern Nations that the majority of fashion waste is increasingly being tossed. Racism in fashion is evident, through these examples, by its erasure from the face of fashion. 


Fashion has also been highly successful at negating the importance of all other systems of clothing that are not integrated in the global fashion system. They are negated by language.  The term ‘craft’, for example, situates the making of indigenous dress systems a grade below fashionable dress, which is made by ‘industry’ and ‘business’. The value of other dress systems is also negated by the normalization of their loss, awakening the expectation that indigenous peoples and their clothing systems are doomed to inevitable disappearance. Such is the hubris of Western superiority. Fashion functions on the momentum of racism. 


  1. What can we do about it?

In a nutshell, awareness of fashion’s colonial origins is the first step. A fashion practice rooted in fairness and respect is the second. 


Fashion functions through lies, myths and erasures to hide from view that it maintains cultural hierarchies based on race and discrimination. These lies, myths and erasures need to be called out and exposed to end the complicity of fashion in global racism and unfairness. Fashion education needs to be restructured around the human universal of clothing rather than the culturally specific  ‘Western fashion’, and the history of global dress systems needs to be recognized as the context of the history of  Western fashion. Remediation can only occur when people, both makers and consumers, begin to connect the dots and refuse to be complicit in the strategies that the fashion industry uses to promote its global-scale hierarchies. Respect for living cultural and natural systems must become a limitation to expansion for the Western fashion business, and the ultimate rationale for it to radically scale down in size. Fashion Act Now points to the need for a diversity of equally respected clothing systems to supplant the current singular, globally dominant fashion system.


3. You say that you can’t have capitalism without sacrifice zones, and these zones don’t exist, without disposable people and disposable people without racism. Please tell us more….

In his article, ‘Racism is Killing the Planet’ Hop Hopkins wrote memorably, evocatively and powerfully, that 
“You can’t have climate change without sacrifice zones, and you can’t have sacrifice zones without          disposable people, and you can't have disposable people without racism.”
Your question makes the connection with capitalism, and that is the correct inference. Capitalism is an economic system based on resource extraction and growth without restrictions, and therefore both creates, and depends on sacrifice zones: places on earth deemed dispensable and disposable for the furtherance of economic interests. Growth has become the holy grail of capitalism, a principle that our governments and business leaders have been unwilling to touch or to attempt to alter, despite overwhelming evidence that GDP growth is not equivalent to well being and is destroying the planet. Terms like ‘anthropocene’, ‘capitalocene’, and ‘plantationocene’ have been coined to designate the massive destruction of our planet through the doings of humans in the pursuit of economic growth. Wealth has become the focus, not need and not well-being. What Hop Hopkins was getting at is that destruction at this scale is only possible if there is disregard for humanity. He is pointing out that guardians of ecosystems are being denied their humanity, and this on racist grounds, in order to gain access to their lands and the resources therein. If there was respect for all races and peoples, and for all ecosystems, business interests would be ‘limited’ by the obligation to perform consistent with that respect. An ideology has been developed to make it not just thinkable, but also justifiable, to destroy the means of life-support of indigenous peoples, and all other peoples conveniently deemed ‘dispensable’ to prioritize the interests of GDP growth.

I have argued that the fashion industry is involved with sacrifice zones in a variety of ways:
  1. It utilizes the products from sacrifice zones. Examples are oil-based synthetic fibres and dyestuffs. It also heavily depends on the oil industry for the extensive transportation of goods entailed in the production, marketing, and disposal of clothing.

  2. It creates sacrifice zones. An obvious example is cotton grown on plantations, water-guzzling, green deserts of industrial agriculture.

  3. The fashion industry lays waste to other cultures. I have expanded the use of the term ‘sacrifice zone’ to include indigenous cultures and people. Women whose lives are wasted on insufficiently compensated labour and tribal peoples forced to give up their culture when forcefully removed from their land are examples of human sacrifice for the sake of economic growth. Cultural sacrifice is huge and involves profound psychological and spiritual damage as well as knowledge and heritage loss. It is the loss of history and the psychic wealth of humanity.

  4. Recently Sara Arnold pointed out that all of this adds up to a temporal sacrifice zone, namely the future of the planet. This is what the youth of today are calling out very loudly.

The fashion industry benefits in sales from the production of sacrifice zones. The industry conceptually erases the destructive impacts of its own economic growth. Clearly the production and sale of clothing is no longer the goal of the industry, but rather a means or a strategy to expand their own interests and wealth. When indigenous peoples are forced to give up their clothing heritage because they are removed from their lands, they are simultaneously forced to buy clothing made available on the market. In this way, the sacrifice of their own, usually environmentally-friendly clothing systems, entails the expansion of the unsustainable global industry of fashion that is deeply dependent on fossil fuels.


Two final notes: 

As pointed out by Naomi Klein, the ‘who’ making the decisions about what and who can be sacrificed has everything to do with white supremacy and global power relations. 

Second, any amelioration of this systemic problem must involve the regeneration of the land. To cease creating sacrifice zones and to permit people to pursue their own lifestyles on their land, will involve respect and limiting the growth of industry and consumption.


  1. The early fashion theorist, Georg Simmel, claimed that “Fashion exists in our society and not in tribal and classless society because of hierarchy, and that hierarchy drives style change?” Tell us your perspective on this.

This early claim has been cited and repeated like a mantra of truth in schools of fashion for and by generation upon generation of students. From my perspective, this ‘accepted wisdom’ is an example of the ‘colonial difference’ (mentioned above). It can inspire no pride that it has become accepted in academe, while based only on preconception and bias and not on research. As I tried to point out in my answer to the previous question, this is a claim based on Western ethnocentrism and hubris.

I propose something quite different, viz. that diverse clothing systems be understood in terms of their unique internal dynamics; each system is tailored to local circumstances, environments, cultures and histories. It doesn’t make much sense to say, “’They’ don’t have fashion because their clothing is not like ‘ours’”. It only leads to a circular argument based on an initial premise of Western superiority. More useful, in the interest of comparative study, is to examine similarities and differences among clothing systems. I fail to see that the dynamics of the Western fashion system are more or less unique, or intrinsically superior in any way, to the dynamics of other clothing systems. Alas, there has been little attention paid to other systems and therefore there is not much knowledge of them among students of fashion. The historical accidents of economics (colonialism and capitalism) and technology (the impact of the industrial revolution) have facilitated the global dominance of, and the huge attention paid to, the Western system. 


  1. How do we cut emissions and create a Just Transition, one where the 60 million people in the fashion industry can still feed themselves?

There is no doubt that the fashion industry has to degrow by a significant amount. It must get to carbon neutral by 2030 (this goal is considerably more ambitious than 2050 and corresponds with a precautionary approach to the global emergency) and the only way to accomplish that is to shrink considerably in size, use renewable energy, support regenerative agriculture and start operating locally. If the fashion industry truly cared about the 60 million (or more) people in its labour and supply chains, they would not be so badly paid as they are now. Let us not use the ‘just transition’ as an excuse for a slow transition. The very best that the fashion industry can do for people is ensure they inherit a healthy planet. Governments, not just the fashion industry, must shoulder this responsibility. Money must be invested grassroots instead of flowing upward for ostentatious and rapacious consumption by rich power-holders.


  1. How can regenerative fashion empower tribal and indigenous people and cultures?

What is ‘regenerative fashion’? Certainly all clothing systems, including Western fashion, need to be sustainable. That is beyond question.  By now, however, it will have become clear that my interest is in clothing self-determination as a facet of cultural self-determination, global cultural diversity and cultural survival. I would like to see the regeneration of local and cultural clothing systems, many if not all of which have been compromised in some way by the globally dominant fashion system. I am interested in the revival of the commons in the development of local clothing systems. I am often impressed that ‘empowerment’ as an outside force is not needed because it implies that somehow the fashion industry knows better; this is hubris. What I perceive as necessary is allotting room for self-determination. The fashion industry has to take many steps back and allow other peoples the latitude and means to practise their own cultural traditions. In the spirit of reparation and good will the fashion industry can offer genuine, disinterested support to indigenous peoples and cultures where necessary to enable them to once again thrive in their own communities, on their own land and within their own cultural systems. Paying a living wage and reparations for past insufficient wages are a start. Offering support with no strings attached to indigenous efforts to rekindle their clothing systems is a further step. This may mean assisting in the re-acquisition of ancestral land, or offering courses in regenerative agriculture. Industry can show respect for indigenous design by not stealing it. It could celebrate and support indigenous ways, from a respectful distance. Reparation needs to occur with powerful motives, not for profit but for global well being. 










Thursday, September 23, 2021

My career in a nutshell: an autobiographical piece focusing on the myths of fashion

  

5-minute Presentation to

a Seminar on Justice and Design

University of Southern Denmark

23 September 2021

 

To review my career, I will focus on the theme of fashion’s myths


1.      The experience of ‘bumping into myths’ is something that I think we all share. Going to university we gain knowledge that changes our thinking. That is why we go to university. 

·      One of the most powerful moments during my undergrad in anthropology occurred when we were taught the definition of ‘ethnocentrism’ and learned that knowledge, and what seems self-evident and logical, may not be consistent with the facts. Culture is defined by what is passed down generation after generation. Myths are guardians of the status quo. Confrontation with the idea that the truths that I grew up with could, in fact, be myths was hard – but also exciting. Barriers in my thinking crumbled and I saw options for new directions.

·      I believe that we are living in a time when we must explode myths if we are to construct a sustainable future. We cannot continue with the status quo; there must be radical cultural change to bring us within the carrying capacity of our planet.

·      In retrospect, exploding myths has been a prime motivation for all of my publications on fashion. 


2.     As an anthropologist I do fieldwork among the Batak people of North Sumatra in Indonesia. Immersion in another culture has taught me to see my own culture through new eyes.


3.     I learned that colonialism split the world in two. From a substratum of diverse cultures, we collectively became:

·      Either the colonizer or the colonized; 

·      Either the Global North or the Global South; 

·      Either the developed or the primitive/uncivilized/un(der)developed/developing – all pejoratives used at different times

We are all either Us or Them. 

During fieldwork I, from the Global North, came in close contact with ‘them’, in the Global South and even started, to a certain extent, to identify with ‘them’. I learned that we had much in common but that history had forced us into positions of difference, even opposition.

·      I also learned, gradually, that the “Us – Them” dichotomy was operating powerfully in fashion studies. For example, it was once standard fare in fashion studies that style change through time was what distinguished fashion from other forms of clothing expression.  

·      In my N. Sumatran village, I had a EUREKA moment when I saw a creative weaver search for design inspiration from foreign textiles that she found on the markekt, and then invent new designs. Hey! Here was style change through time in an indigenous weaving tradition! Change was even a hallmark of that tradition! We had style change through time in common in our respective clothing traditions!

     In this way I learned that fashion studies have not always been objective; and the understanding of non-fashion has been based on biased preconceptions and not research. 

·      In 1993 I published Batak Cloth and Clothing, A Dynamic Indonesian Tradition, a history of dress of the Batak peoples. Through this book, I was saying that dress history is not exclusive to the West. Fashion History should be histories of dress: plural and diverse, one for each culture of the world.

·      In ‘Reorienting Fashion Theory’ my 2004 publication, I explored the pervasiveness of the us vs. them binary in fashion and fashion studies. Why would we want to perpetuate this myth of difference? Why is it so stubborn? I perceived that it has much to do with power and bolstering the sense of Western superiority.

                                           i.     Note how the designation ‘fashion’ implies that there is non-fashion, but at the same time conceptually ‘erases’ the relevance of the clothing systems of other peoples. This supports our sense of Western superiority – we ‘erase’ the evidence to the contrary. Think about that; it is a pernicious form of racism.

·      Racism in the fashion system goes much, much, much deeper than whether or not people with dark skin are represented in board rooms and on runways. It is bound up in the very definition of fashion. The essential divide between ‘us’ and ‘them’ is the fundamental myth on which all other myths are built. 

·      In my most recent publication: ‘Regenerative Fashion: There can be no Other’ I revisited the mythical dichotomy of West vs non-West in fashion because I perceived that this colonial-era dualism is even informing how we approach ‘sustainability’. We have been accepting the status quo, looking at material issues, and leaving out the matter of social justice, which, to my mind, should be absolutely central

·      I am so pleased that this seminar is highlighting this theme of social justice in design and offer my compliments to the instructors! 

·      It boils down to this:  

Where there is respect for other living beings, we will tread gently on the earth.

It is very simple, really: where we dehumanize and exploit, we will harm other beings and the planet. Hence I believe that respect is key. That means relinquishing dualistic thinking and learning to communicate across the reified divide.

 

My message to students today: It may be confusing and disorienting to bump up against societal and conceptual myths, but it is crucial to recognize them and to move forward on new understandings. 


4.     Hence my question inviting you to share the kinds of fashion myths or social myths that you have run up against. I believe that the uncomfortable discovery of these myths is an engine of both change and empowerment: 


·      The anthropologist, Ruth Benedict, once pointed out that “…no civilization has in it any element which in the last analysis is not the contribution of an individual.” Society – and the fashion industry -- run on the momentum of beliefs and norms. During the course of your study and life experience, have you ever been confronted with a conceptual ‘myth’ being perpetuated by the fashion industry? What is a good reaction to that discovery? In the end, we are not ‘trained employees’ and cogs in economic and social wheels; collectively we are the wheel, an insight that is empowering because it gives licence. 

 5.  That is why I am now a member of Fashion Act Now, and have chosen to become an activist at this stage in my career.

 

 

 

 

Monday, August 30, 2021

Indigenous Craft as Climate Adaptation and Mitigation

On Wednesday 25 August 2021, I presented a webinar for the PanSumatra Network for Heritage Conservation (PANSUMNET), an informal group coordinated by Hasti Tarekat within the Sumatra Heritage Trust / Beranda Warisan Sumatra (BWS). The event was moderated by arts and culture activist, Desmond W.S. Anabrang.

My goal was to bring the topic of global warming into focus relative to craft and heritage. On August 9 of this month, the 6th report of the IPCC report came out and was heralded as a 'Code Red for Humanity'. My talk was based on the comment made by Helen Clarkson, CEO of the Climate Group, that from now on,

Every decision, every investment, every target, needs to have the climate at its core.

So what does this climate 'code red' mean for heritage and craft? I proposed that this should become a focus of conversation and that it is incumbent on each aspect of heritage to work this out. UNESCO has already done significant work in this direction. It is all hands on deck. While the Northern Nations shoulder the burden of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), I pointed out that there was a leadership role that could be assumed within Indonesia because of the wealth of Indigenous Knowledge that is found in the country -- and that this wealth should be treasured and encouraged, that this incredible asset is undermined by so-called 'development' and 'capitalist growth'.

My example was traditional Batak textiles, which I likened to honey: a valuable product collectively produced from the local environment, healthy and dependent on a healthy local environment. 

I showed the modernization of Batak textiles in the light of CO2 emissions and fossil hydrocarbons. If the traditional textiles were carbon negative (they stored CO2 in their materials and the weaving equipment), the modern textiles have been entirely transformed by the availability and prevalence of fossil hydrocarbons, through the use of synthetic dyes, yarns, and fossil fuel-based transportation. In the end, this has meant that the only 'heritage' that has been preserved is the appearance (design) of the textiles, not the material and not the systems which infused them with meaning before they became a 'cultural commodity'.

I placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of social changes that have occurred since colonialism and pointed out that the reliance on fossil fuels will have to be relinquished. 

There will be no choice.

The Webinar was live streamed on Facebook but the link cannot be used in this environment. 

A copy of the presentation will be made available on the BWS website.

Thanks to the talented MJA Nashir for the poster image and to the dynamic BWS and PANSUMNET for organizing and hosting the event. Thanks also to the warm, enthusiastic and very engaged Indonesian audience. 

You may access the zoom recording here.

Sunday, August 08, 2021

I completed the Zuiderzee Route

 On Wednesday night I completed the Zuyderzee Route on my trusty bicycle. I spent 14 days at it and cycled 820 km. Starting and finishing in Nijkerk, traveling counter clockwise, I rode up around the East side of the lake, over the dike by bike-bus (alas, the dike is being renovated) and down the West side to Amsterdam, then skirted the South shore back to Nijkerk. 

 

I can’t complain about the weather. The skies were photogenically Dutch with scudding clouds topping the greenest of pastures studded with black and white cows and woolly sheep. The cool temperatures meant that I could keep covered up and safe from the sun. Only a few brief showers. Every day was more-or-less ideal cycling weather.

 

I think I experienced The Netherlands at her best. Physically, she is made for cyclists: compellingly flat with endless rivers, streams, tributaries, canals, (cantilever) bridges, dikes, ferries, lakes, and even open seas (on the day I cycled beyond the route to Harlingen). Church steeples in the panoramic distances, colourful fields, lots of ducks, geese and other water fowl,  history at every node. I could do the route ten times, no: fifty times, slowly, and still glean new insights. There were castles and museums, majestic VOC buildings, forts and moats, every kind of gable, local styles of water craft and marinas stuffed with yachts. There were patios where there was food and people made enthusiastic use of them. It was friendly, human-scale, carefree, and all were accepting of cyclists and understanding of our needs.

 

One of the things I liked most was plugging into the “Friends on Bikes” network. For a nominal fee, just to cover costs, kind bike-enthusiasts put up cyclists for the night. It makes bike travel simple and possible. Most of us are minimalist, independent types, with almost no baggage. Cycle, wash out the underwear, sleep, have breakfast and cycle on. The hosts know the routine from their own bicycle journeys. Six different hosts put me up in their homes. I spent more than one night in most so that I could dally and see the sights, and that made my trip delightfully sociable. Often there were animated discussions in the evening, and again over breakfast with other cyclists at the same address. Convivial and congenial. Many hosts were single women enjoying the company of cyclists just as much as I enjoyed the company of my hosts. I was struck by how gracious and kind they were. It wasn’t until I headed back in the train on that last night that I ran into mask-refusing grumblers and an obstreperous drunk. Maybe cyclists are just plain sane salt of the earth. This was community, trusting and kind. No bad apples on my journey.

 

During a rain shower, I discovered another network, that of ‘Rest Spots’  (https://www.rustpunt.nu). Run on the honour system, they are a commons, built on empathy. Places to have a drink, take a pee, charge up a battery, hide from a shower, or just be languid for a bit. Set up and cared for by volunteers and on their property. Absolutely endearing. This is what life everywhere should be like. Let’s expand the commons, share and trust each other! It generated such a good mood, such a sense of well-being, of belonging, of the world being our oyster. Who needs bitcoin? Give me this incomparable wealth, of ultimate value when the rubber hits the road. This is the Netherlands that one can’t help but love; I didn’t know that it was there all the time, ubiquitously between the lines!

 

Itinerary

 

Day 1: Oosterbeek to Zeewolde via Otterlo and Nijkerk 

 

Day 2: Zeewolde to Ketel Haven via Harderwijk, Nunspeet, and Kampen

 

Day 3: Ketel Haven to Ketel Haven via Kampen and the Ketelbrug

 

Day 4: Ketel Haven to Creil via the Ketelbrug, Urk and Lemmer over the dike

 

Day 5: Creil to Creil via Lemmer and Oosterzee – a day on the water 

 

Day 6: Creil to Makkum via all the little Fresian towns en route, including Stavoren and Hindeloopen

 

Day 7: Makkum to Makkum via Harlingen (seashore there, inland back)

 

Day 8: Makkum to Enkhuizen – via the Afsluitdijk, then Den Oever and Medemblik

 

Day 9: Enkhuizen to Enkhuizen – via Urk by sailboat

 

Day 10: Enkhuizen – a day at the ZuiderzeeMuseum

 

Day 11: Enkhuizen to Warder via Hoorn and Edam

 

Day 12: Warder to Warder via Purmerend, Monnickendam, Marken, Volendam and Edam

 

Day 13: Warder to Hoofddorp via Amsterdam (Vondelpark, Sloten and Schiphol)

 

Day 14: Hoofddorp to Nijkerk via Amsterdam, Muider, Naarden, Bussum and Bunschoten/Spakenburg