I am dAAn, to some also known as Pino (Dutch Big Bird of Sesame Street), in New Zealand known as Dan, in Canada and South America as dAni.
I have always loved drawing and the natural world, be it a small plant in my parents’ garden or the New Zealand bush, it inspires me and makes my heart smile. And so when I moved to New Zealand, I started a Bachelor in Landscape Architecture, using my drawing skills to creatively re-model the landscape.
During this study I became ever more interested in creating spaces, using lots of vegetation and why not use edibles in the design? Creating sustainable communities where fruit-trees line the streets and green corridors covered with edible berries connect one area to another. Why not use natives? Why not use natural building materials and avoid using chemical products to build houses? Why not reduce our ecological footprint by pre-thinking things before we act, before we buy stuff we don’t need. Why not use recycled goods instead of new ones?
After my graduation all these questions which became frustrations when lacking answers,
eventually lead me to discover the concept of permaculture, a branch of ecological design, ecological engineering, and environmental design which develops sustainable architecture and self-maintained agricultural systems modelled from natural ecosystems. A 21-day super intensive Permaculture-Design-Course I did in New Zealand, opened up a whole new world of possibilities and solutions in the realm of Eco-design.
THIS is what inspires me, THIS is what I want to focus on in every aspect of my life.
In the principles of Permaculture it says ‘The problem is the answer’. I love that and use this as a tool in many things I do. For example, I am re-designing a garden at the moment where the soil is very sandy. As was suggested by the owner, I have started taking out the sand to put in humus-rich soil and as I was excavating the sand, I thought to myself…which plants thrive on sandy soils? Let’s investigate and plant those plants instead of treating this sand as an obstacle and changing the soil to suit the plants.
Through this Permaculture Design Course, situated in a sustainable community called Tui, I became very interested in the different models of community-living. I had been wondering for so long… why does every house need its own washing machine, its own dryer, its own tools? Why do we all drive to work in our own car? Why do we buy all our food in a supermarket? Why does our food travel around the globe to reach us?… and so I started researching these topics on the internet, books, documentaries and I took off exploring these ‘alternative’ farms and communities in New Zealand, Holland, Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia. On my travels, WWOOF-ing (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) and Couch Surfing, I learned a ton of stuff about different lifestyles, visions, consciousness and challenges to fulfil one’s dreams. Along the way I started discovering which components suit me and which don’t.
I discovered that my real interest lies in small urban spaces. The challenge of transforming every available square cm into a little oasis, tickling all our senses AND providing a habitat for insects, birds and other small creatures, is a challenge I love taking on. So many of us live in urban areas where space is a limiting factor and the dependency on supermarkets for our food so high. We even buy our herbs in little plastic packages in a store.
And so I came to realize that I, a nomadic soul, am here to spread a Green Virus. This realization came to me when meeting two Colombian friends who started a company called Virus Verde, Alimentos orgánicos (Green virus, organic food), growing organic produce for the local market and for people on a Gerson Therapy juice diet.
Such a refreshing way of perceiving a virus, in a positive way. By helping to reconnect people to the food they eat, where it comes from, what effect food has on your body, how to grow some of it yourselves, even in small urban spaces. By doing this, consciousness is lifted and with it the green virus spreads.
Concrete turns into gardens, a monoculture of council plants turns into a patch of bee-attracting wild flowers, a balcony transforms from garbage storage into a herb-garden, a wall turns green and provides a welcome space to grow lettuce. A fresh mint tea is prepared with mint from the roof terrace, a juice is made from home-grown wheatgrass and organic apple-juice, a salad is topped with homegrown sprouts, food scraps find a home in the worm-farm instead of the rubbish-bin… and… on …and… on … it goes! …. As the Green Virus spreads.
In addition, there’s one more VITAL ingredient in this Green Virus and that’s the artistic component. According to the Mayan calendar I am a Yellow Galactic Star. ‘The star is the artist. Inspired by the elegance of the natural world, it has a refined sense of aesthetics, reflecting the divine proportions of nature. It is akin to Steiner art. The star works to harmonise disharmony by finding the beauty in every moment, living in beautiful spaces that creatively reflect right placement, inspiring art.’ This says it all, really.
I love creating beautiful spaces, mixing plants, edibles and art into a harmonious blend! That’s me, that’s dAAn.