Image courtesy Jurriaan Kamp/Ode Magazine
If you've checked out the uplifting eco-publication Ode Magazine, you could only presume that the mastermind behind it all—Jurriaan Kamp—must tout the same utopian world view. And that's the truth. After studying international law, working for the European Parliament, and corresponding for the Dutch daily newspaper, NRD Handelsblad, the native Netherlander no doubt reported on his fair share of bad news. Ready for something solution-oriented, Jurriaan and his wife Helene de Puy founded Ode for which he now serves as Editor-in-Chief.
The Netherlands and Bay Area-based magazine covers the "other face of the news" reporting on issues like fair trade, socially responsible business, education, sustainable energy, and food justice—subject matter barely touched upon in mainstream news sources. When Jurriaan's not taking the publishing world by storm (he's written a few books as well including: Small Change:How Fifty Dollars Changes the World and Because People Matter), you can find him at home in Mill Valley, California, with his wife and four children living simply—and optimistically.
How did you get into this line of work
After ten years in mainstream media I realized that it was my daily job to dig for problems. But that's not me. I'm an optimistic guy far more interested in solutions to make a greener, happier, better, more just and sustainable world than in analyzing what went wrong and why.
What was your "a-ha" moment?
I have those everyday. That may sound naïve. However I consider naïvetéof crucial importance for any venture. It leads to questions and...new insights.
Who is your green hero?
Green is important. Sustainability is even more important because it includes the social fabric of our world. I think that fighting poverty is ultimately even more important for our world. Alleviation of poverty will make our world much more sustainable. So Muhammad Yunus, the champion of microfinance, is my hero.
What is your ultimate green goal?
Cradle to cradle: we should be able, like all other animals, to blend with nature.
What is your motivation?
I lived in India for four years. I have seen so many people who live very challenging lives with hardly anything and yet they often radiate more happiness than those I see around me in the affluent Western world. If I could contribute even a little bit to improving the lives of these millions of the poor, I would be very happy.
What is most important to you, ecologically speaking?
That we learn so see beyond our immediate self-interest. Green behavior is so often connected with egotistical stuff. No need for that. Living green and sustainably is more meaningful and fulfilling because it feeds the relationships around us.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Running the business!
What is the most rewarding?
To see that stories in Ode bring deep changes and meaningful inspiration to people's lives. That's where change begins.
Of the people you have worked with, who impresses you most?
The people who don't take 'no' for an answer. The people who keep searching for the next solution. Because there are always solutions. I am fortunate that I work and have worked with such pioneers of the possible.
What green thing do you do everyday?
Turn off every light that's not needed.
What do you wish you could do?
Anyone can do everything s/he wants. You should never wish for things that you could do. Just do them.
What is your biggest eco-sin?
My old American car...But then again I'm not sure. That car is 40 years old. Such a lifetime may give it an impressive carbon footprint . That would be good research.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
I would cancel compound interest. Most religions have warned against interest. They were right. If I borrow an apple from you, you will be happy when I give you an apple back. If I borrow money from you, I keep paying interest year after year. And the remarkable thing is that interest is a human invention. Nature doesn't know interest.
What is your best green advice?
It's maybe not about green, but about the normal and the natural. Walk or bike when you can. Buy natural fruit, no chemical fruit. Don't eat more than you need. And as they say in my native The Netherlands: live as normal as you can, that's crazy enough.