Too Many Magnificent Stories to Tell

My own nature pegs me into the positive person slot, but when I read too much about the corona crisis, climate change or economic and social inequality, I start to worry and become a bit disheartened. Will my children also be able to build a beautiful future in this world? 

To give myself courage in those typical situations, I remember my mother’s challenge, who, because of the threat of a nuclear war in the seventies, really doubted whether she should bring children into this world. What induced her to believe that it would all turn out alright, anyway? Did a positive story she read or heard influence her heart? 

Positive stories do indeed radiate feelings of hope, and I feel privileged that my job is to write them down. Every day I get to talk to interesting entrepreneurs and practical idealists about their expectations for the future, and how they inspire others to make sustainable choices. Often these are such stimulating conversations which, in turn, I can spread through the hetkanWEL online platform and which make everybody, including myself, a lot happier.  

For some time now, my colleague Wyke Potjer and I have had a dream to bundle these stories into a book, to share encouraging reflections about these times. This year, Uitgeverij Brandt presented us with that opportunity. And, from the time we started writing, we magically attracted gorgeous stories and we kept on encountering people who should be included in our book. 

Among others we talked to entrepreneurs who grow herbal teas on Dutch soil, which is how they want to help restore nature and biodiversity. A dairy farmer from the Dutch province of Twente, who now grows soy as well, in order to make his own milk. A couple from Alkmaar, who sold their entire house and belongings to live in a bus, in minimalist fashion and with a lot less worries. And a woman funeral director, who explains how you can choose for the environment even after your death. 

These people worry about the future, but they are also incredibly cheerful. Time and time again I hear: “We can change if we want to.” These conversations are bright glimmers of hope on my horizon and show me that every positive action can add up to create a big difference.

And as the deadline approaches and the text fills my pages, I feel lighter, emptier, than ever. Because writing is also deleting, and sometimes we have to say painful goodbyes to beautiful paragraphs, to make room for that one last story, because maybe that particular story will reassure someone that all will be right. As well as for all children. 

Asceline Groot is ondernemer bij hetkanWEL, schrijfster van ‘Het Nieuwe Groen’ en PhD kandidaat aan de Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen. In haar columns schrijft zij over (start-up) sociale ondernemingen en trends en ontwikkelingen op het gebied van duurzaamheid.