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mediamatic_eten_serre_separee_6-0

Photo: Anne Lakeman/Mediamatic ETEN
Testing the Serres Séparées safe-eating concept at Mediamatic restaurant in the Netherlands.

My husband keeps saying he can’t imagine that going to restaurants will ever be the same after coronavirus. In fact, he says, if nice restaurants continue doing takeout, maybe we should just stick with that.

Of course, restaurant owners are already thinking about these issues.

Byron Mühlberg reports from the Netherlands that the possibility of future guests requesting their own separate spaces has got some restaurateurs thinking creatively.

“With Dutch restaurants, bars and other catering services engulfed in uncertainty over how they might adjust to the 1.5-meter society,” he writes, “one Amsterdam restaurant is set to experiment with a brand new way of condoning off its guests: Using enclosed greenhouses.

“Mediamatic ETEN, part of a larger arts and entrepreneurship center focusing on sustainability, is a vegan restaurant. … From May 21, the restaurant will begin taking in guests, only this time they will be seated inside Serres Séparées (‘separated greenhouses’), enclosed glass structures, each equipped with a table for two or three diners.

” ‘This was one of the most feasible ideas from a large list of ideas we had when brainstorming,’ Mediamatic’s founding partner Willem Velthoven told NL Times. …

Initially, no more than three guests will be allowed to dine inside each greenhouse, even though there is the capacity for more. ‘[This is] is because we are now careful with our optimism,’ Velthoven explained. …

” ‘Bigger groups could [come] now, but then they should be families. For now, bigger groups are being discouraged because, from our experience, they are just louder and then you get the excited behavior causing spittle to fly and so on, and that’s the kind of behavior that would make the virus spread faster,’ Velthoven said. …

“Catering industry association KHN told NL Times, ‘We sent a protocol to the government two weeks ago, containing advice on how best to open the 1.5 [meter] distance. It is crucial that the government provide perspective quickly.’

“While KHN said it would not yet advise restaurants to reopen on June 1, renowned catering tycoon Laurens Meyer … questioned the idea of people becoming too careful with space.

” ‘We have to realize that there will always be some kind of virus. Whether it is worse than the flu, we have to see. If there is nothing left of our economy, we will no longer be able to afford health care and that will also cost human lives,’ explained Meyer.

“Velthoven, on the other hand, disagrees with Meyer’s approach, urging caution before advising restaurants to open their doors to the public without careful examination. ‘It’s about others and not just yourself in this case,’ he said. …

“Velthoven also understands the business argument, even though he has spent a career looking for creative solutions to problems instead of blunt responses. He ultimately wondered what the government’s plan is for the catering sector if those businesses are ordered to stay closed for a longer duration. If billions of euros are being diverted to KLM, he wonders what the government will be able to do to bail out his industry.

” ‘If I am not allowed to do anything the rest of this year, it’s finished,’ he lamented.” More at NL Times, here.

If you have heard of other good ideas for restaurants and bars in our cautious Covid-19 world, please share them in Comments. Pretty sure that there’s a large group of potential patrons who will be looking for the safest way to dine out — at least until a vaccine is widely available.

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skynews-students-yacht-atlantic_4977292

Photo: Sky News
Dutch students sail across the Atlantic to get home after coronavirus blocks their flight.

Of all the nutty adaptations caused by Covid-19, this is one of the most unusual. A group of Dutch students who were on an educational sailing trip in the Caribbean were unable to fly home. So they sailed all the way back over the Atlantic Ocean.

Aleksandar Furtula (with contributions from Associated Press writer Mike Corder in The Hague) reports at the Washington Post, “A group of 25 Dutch high school students with very little sailing experience ended a trans-Atlantic voyage Sunday that was forced on them by coronavirus restrictions.

“The children, ages 14 to 17, watched over by 12 experienced crew members and three teachers, were on an educational cruise of the Caribbean when the pandemic forced them to radically change their plans for returning home in March.

“That gave one of the young sailors, 17-year-old Floor Hurkmans, one of the biggest lessons of her impromptu adventure. …

“ ‘The arrival time changed like 100 times. Being flexible is really important.’

Instead of flying back from Cuba as originally planned, the crew and students stocked up on supplies and warm clothes and set sail for the northern Dutch port of Harlingen, a five-week voyage of nearly 7,000 kilometers (4,350 miles), on board the 60-meter (200-foot) top sail schooner Wylde Swan. …

“The teens hugged and chanted each other’s names as they walked off the ship and into the arms of their families, who drove their cars alongside the yacht one by one to adhere to social distancing rules imposed to rein in the spread of the virus that forced the students into their long trip home.

“For Hurkmans, the impossibility of any kind of social distancing took some getting used to. … Her mother, Renee Scholtemeijer, said she expects her daughter to miss life on the open sea once she encounters coronavirus containment measures in the Netherlands.

“ ‘I think that after two days she’ll want to go back on the boat, because life is very boring back at home,” she said. ‘There’s nothing to do, she can’t visit friends, so it’s very boring.’ …

Masterskip, the company that organized the cruise, runs five educational voyages for about 150 students in all each year. Crossing the Atlantic is nothing new for the Wylde Swan, which has made the trip about 20 times.

“The company’s director, Christophe Meijer, said the students were monitored for the coronavirus in March to ensure nobody was infected. He said he was pleased the students had adapted to life on board and kept up their education on the long voyage.

“ ‘The children learned a lot about adaptivity, also about media attention, but also their normal school work,’ he said. ‘So they are actually far ahead now of their Dutch school colleagues. They have made us very proud.’

More at the Washington Post, here. A Reuters article with other details is here.

 

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Photo: YouTube
One of the calendars used in the Dutch prison system to encourage prisoners to help solve cold cases.

Here’s a new twist on solving cold cases. It’s being implemented in the Netherlands, and I was going to say, “Trust the creative Dutch to come up with this idea!” But it turns out they got the idea from the United States.

Daniel Boffey writes at the Guardian, “Prisoners across the Netherlands are to be issued with calendars for their cells featuring unsolved murders or disappearances as part of a drive by the Dutch police to crack unsolved cases.

“The so-called cold case calendars will be handed to all 30,000 prisoners in the country after a trial run in five jails in the north resulted in 160 tips to the police.

“Each week of the year in the brightly coloured 2018-19 calendars will be illustrated with a photograph of a missing person and details of the case. The hope is that many of those in jail will know details of some of the crimes or may have heard other criminals chatting about them. …

“Jeroen Hammer, the calendar’s inventor, told Dutch newspapers the calendars had also proved popular with bored prisoners, although some had regarded the initiative as an attempt to turn them against their own. …

“The calendar has been printed in Dutch, Arabic, Spanish, English and Russian to maximise its impact, and a €800,000 reward is being made available for those whose information ends in a successful conviction. …

“The police say they can offer anonymity to people in certain cases.

“ ‘There is no penalty for keeping information about a criminal offence committed. Therefore, you do not have to fear persecution if you have been sharing information, even after years of deliberation,’ they said.

“The idea of the calendars was borrowed from the United States, where every year several states distribute a deck of cards containing information about cold cases among prisoners.”

More here. Someone should study whether participating prisoners are motivated mostly by the reward, by boredom, by outrage at certain crimes, or something else.

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Despite its size, the compassionate Netherlands has welcomed a large number of refugees during the largest migration since World War II, perhaps remembering the terrified families that fled Hitler.

To house all the newcomers is naturally a challenge, but a design competition has yielded creative ideas.

Jon Comulada writes at Upworthy, “As the worldwide refugee crisis continues, innovative solutions are needed so that the people fleeing civil war and sectarian violence have a safe place to live. …

“In January 2016, the Netherlands launched a design competition called ‘A Home Away From Home’ in which entrants were tasked with designing temporary housing for refugees and disaster victims. All of the winning designs rethought the idea of public housing, adding amenities and innovations to make the buildings more like fully functioning homes than simply a bed to sleep on.

“The winners of the contest recently appeared on display in Amsterdam as part of Dutch Design Week and included things like solar power, water purification systems, and ingenious use of space and material.

“The cube design of the Farmland [below] means dozens can be stacked, placed together, and moved easily. The architects of this design imagined the miniature villages establishing a ‘DIY economy’ with local towns. …

“Home is a concept many of us take for granted, but it’s not a small thing. It makes us feel safe, comfortable, and human.

“The current refugee crisis hasn’t showed signs of slowing down, and with climate change creating more and more dangerous weather systems, we’re likely to see climate refugee numbers grow sharply. All of those people are going to need places to live. Innovative solutions like these help them to not only live, but live with dignity and opportunity.”

Check out several other designs from the competition at Upworthy, here.

Photo: A Home Away From Home
This Farmyard shelter is designed to transform vacant farmland into mini villages.

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According to Josh Planos at the Atlantic, the forward-looking Dutch are at it again. Not only are they on the cutting edge in matters such as energy use and floating forests, they have anticipated the increase in Alzheimer’s diagnoses, creating a village where patients can feel normal.

“The isolated village of Hogewey lies on the outskirts of Amsterdam in the small town of Wheesp. Dubbed ‘Dementia Village’ by CNN, Hogewey is a cutting-edge elderly-care facility — roughly the size of 10 football fields — where residents are given the chance to live seemingly normal lives.

“With only 152 inhabitants, it’s run like a more benevolent version of The Truman Show, if The Truman Show were about dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Like most small villages, it has its own town square, theater, garden, and post office. Unlike typical villages, however, this one has cameras monitoring residents every hour of every day, caretakers posing in street clothes, and only one door in and out of town, all part of a security system designed to keep the community safe. Friends and family are encouraged to visit. Some come every day.

“Last year, CNN reported that residents at Hogewey require fewer medications, eat better, live longer, and appear more joyful than those in standard elderly-care facilities. …

“Residents are only admitted if they’re categorized as having ‘severe cases of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.’ Vacancies are rare, given that a spot only opens when a current resident passes away, and the village has operated virtually at full capacity since it opened in 2009.

“Hogewey was primarily funded by the Dutch government and cost slightly more than $25 million to build. The cost of care is nearly $8,000 per month, but the Dutch government subsidizes the residents—all of whom receive private rooms—to varying degrees; the amount each family pays is based on income, but never exceeds $3,600.”

More at the Atlantic.

Where did I just hear about someone with Alzheimer’s? Oh, right. A detective series on TV. So moving. Boy, I hope that detective’s daughter knows about this village.

Photo: Gabriel Rocha/Flickr

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A Dutch diplomat started following me on twitter. He’s a Yale World Fellow, so how bad could it be? (Better than, say, Contagious Disease Fellow.)

@Alex_Verbeek is focused on environmental issues, and today he tweeted about the Stockholm Environment Institute, “ is ranked second best think tank worldwide.”

Because of my Swedish relatives, I naturally felt curious about SEI and looked it up. The website doesn’t say which think tank is first — or at least not prominently — but it does say that the US office is in Somerville, Mass., of all things. You learn something every day. I did know that the great environmental radio show Living on Earth is in Somerville, but the city is still a bit under the shadow of its industrial past.

From SEI’s website: “SEI’s vision is a sustainable future for all. Our mission is ‘to support decision-making and induce change towards sustainable development around the world by providing integrative knowledge that bridges science and policy in the field of environment and development’.

“To deliver on our mission, we work across issues like climate change, energy systems, water resources, air quality, land-use, sanitation, food security, and trade, and we approach these issues from a range of perspectives from the natural and social sciences.

“We combine scientific research with policy analysis, connecting our work to decision-makers and civil society in global governance, national public policy, regional cooperation, local planning, and the private sector. We generate and share knowledge that catalyses action, and always take a highly collaborative approach: stakeholder involvement is at the heart of our efforts to build capacity, strengthen institutions, and equip partners for the long term.

“Making scientific knowledge accessible is a priority. We publish our own series of open-access reports and briefs, alongside articles in leading academic journals, and work creatively through a range of media to ensure that our research is available to those that need it. We convene seminars and conferences that bring together decision-makers, academics, and practitioners to debate key issues and share knowledge, and engage in and inform policy processes, development action, and business practice worldwide.”

Whew! Wonky! Wish I could introduce SEI to Somerville neighbor Steve Curwood of Living on Earth. He’s pretty good at using everyday language for listeners.

I hope to learn more about the Stockholm Environment Institute, in any case, and am delighted its US office is so close to home.

Photo: Stockholm Environment Institute
One environmental concern SEI is studying is disaster risk in the Asia-Pacific region.

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New online services make it easy to borrow things you need temporarily but don’t want to buy.

Janet Morrissey writes at the NY Times, “When vandals broke into Stephanie Ciancio’s Land Cruiser in 2014 and stole her car stereo, she did not have the time and money to replace it. It was particularly vexing for Ms. Ciancio, a 34-year-old San Francisco resident, because she had been planning to take a four-day road trip to Fern Canyon, Calif., over the long July 4 weekend, and the idea of making the eight-hour drive without music was depressing.

“So she logged onto Peerby.com, typed in her predicament, and within 40 minutes was connected with someone willing to lend her a Beats wireless Bluetooth speaker for her car trip.” She was thrilled.

Peerby founder Daan Weddepohl, Morrissey contintues, “was born in Rotterdam in 1980 and developed a passion for computers and programming at a young age. ‘I asked for a compiler for my 13th birthday,’ he said.

“He pored over books and joined online bulletin boards to hone his programming skills. His parents, both psychiatrists, encouraged his entrepreneurial spirit and interest in technology. But it was a fire that ignited the Peerby dream.

“In February 2009, fire ripped through Mr. Weddepohl’s apartment building, … Most of Mr. Weddepohl’s belongings were destroyed by fire, water or smoke.

“He was devastated. But in the months after, Mr. Weddepohl watched in amazement as friends — and even strangers — offered furniture, tools and other items to help him get back on his feet. It was a revelation. “’ discovered that the people around me were so much more important than the stuff,’ he said. ‘People love to help other people out — we’re wired to help others.’ ”

Read how the Peerby concept grew from the ashes, here.

I blogged earlier this year about this concept. You can read “Borrowing Gadgets you Need Only Once,” here.

Photo:Jason Henry for The New York Times
Stephanie Ciancio was able to borrow a wireless Bluetooth speaker from Matt Dodge through an online service called Peerby.com. 

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And while we’re on the subject of the energy-saving bike trails in the Netherlands, we note a brief report in the NY Times to the effect that those clever Dutch also have a road that powers houses.

SolaRoad, according to its website, “is a pioneering innovation in the field of energy harvesting. It … converts sunlight on the road surface into electricity: the road network works as an inexhaustible source of green power.”

Adds the Times, “Sten de Wit of the engineering firm TNO said … that each square meter of road generated 50 to 70 kilowatt-hours of energy per year, or enough for the initial strip to supply power to one or two Dutch households. The test is scheduled to run three years and will cost 3 million euros ($3.7 million). Mr De Wit said despite the high costs of developing the first SolaRoad, successor projects may be more profitable as solar cells grow cheaper and more efficient.”

Check out the SolaRoad website, here.

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Liz Stinson writes at Wired magazine about a bike lane in the Netherlands created to evoke Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night.

“If you happen to be near Eindhoven in the Netherlands, you can walk or bike down a glowing path modeled after Van Gogh’s masterpiece. The one kilometer lane is the work of Daan Roosegaarde …

“The Van Gogh-Rooosegaarde bike path (located near where Van Gogh himself lived from 1883-1885) uses a luminescent material that charges during the day and glows at night. These glowing bits look like little pebbles, but they’re actually not rocks at all. Using the smart coating material developed with Dutch infrastructure company Heijmans, Roosegaarde was able to create 50,000 fluorescent ‘rocks’ that he then embedded into wet concrete in a swirling, pointillism pattern reminiscent of Starry Night. …

“The big goal is to make the coating as dynamic as possible—shifting colors, markings or appearing and disappearing altogether—to account for our ever-changing urban spaces. …

“The designer suspects the path’s real draw will change from person to person. ‘Some people will come because they’re interested in safety and energy-friendly landscapes, others will come because they want to experience art and science,’ he says.”

More here.

Photo: Studio Roosegaarde
Daan Roosegaarde created a glowing bike path in the Netherlands based on Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night.

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Could this be real? It’s a bike path above the traffic.

Well, why not? If Minneapolis can build a complex system of second-floor skyways that allowed me to walk to work without a coat in deep winter 1997, why not?

Ben Schiller at FastCoExist explains.

“In most cities, cycling infrastructure isn’t much more than a few dotted lines on the road. But that’s not how it is in the Netherlands, one of the world’s most cycle-friendly nations. Dutch cities have dedicated lanes that separate cars and bikes, making cycling an activity for young and old, female and male–not just the adventurous few.

“A good example is [an] elegant circular bridge in Eindhoven, in southern Holland. Called the Hovenring, it lets cyclists completely avoid other road users and cross the busy A2 highway with minimal fuss. It also makes for better road flow, according to Gerhard Nijenhuis, an employee at IPV Delft, the firm that designed it.” Read more.

Photo: FastCoExist
In the Netherlands, bikers ride on top of this rotary.

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You may get a kick out of this BBC story on the intersection of art and engineering.

“Artist Daan Roosegaarde has teamed up with Hans Goris, a manager at a Dutch civil engineering firm with hopes of reinventing highways all over the world.

“They are working on designs that will change with the weather — telling drivers if it’s icy or wet by using high-tech paint that lights up in different temperatures.

“Another of their ideas is to create a road that charges up electric cars as they drive along it.

“Daan Roosegarde said: ‘I was completely amazed that we somehow spend billions on the design of cars but somehow the roads … are still stuck in the Middle Ages.’

“In the past he has designed a dance floor with built-in disco lights powered by dancers’ foot movements.

“They plan to trial their specially designed glow-in-the-dark paint on a strip of road at Brabant, which is near the Dutch border with Belgium, later this year.”

Read more.

Photo of a glow-in-the-dark road: Roosegarde

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Dutch artist Peter Gentenaar makes stunning paper sculptures that Nathaniel Ross at Inhabitat (“design will save the world”) describes as “soaring through the air like flying jellyfish. …

“Peter Gentenaar’s art was born out of the limitations of what he could (or couldn’t) create with store-bought paper. So with the help of the Royal Dutch Paper Factory, he built his own paper factory and devised a custom beater that processes and mills long-fiber paper pulp into the material you see in his artwork. He saw the potential that wet paper had when reinforced with very fine bamboo ribs, and he learned to form the material into anything his imagination would allow.”

Check out the machine Gentenaar uses to create his paper. You can buy one. He describes it thus:

“A machine suitable for beating long fibers, flax, hemp or sisal, as well as for beating soft and short fibers like cotton linters. The machine is built in stainless steel and has a bronze bedplate. The bronze bedplate has the same curve as the knife roll, this gives effective grinding/beating over a surface of: ± 20 x 10 cm. The distance between the roll and the bedplate can be finely adjusted. Also the weight under which the fibers are beaten can be varied from 0 to 60 kilo’s. This means you can use the beater on very delicate fibers and on very strong and rough fibers as well. I never have to cook my fibers. There is a factory guarantee on the beater of one year. At present I’m getting a CE mark, which ensures certain safety standards. There are over 70 beaters of this type sold over the last 12 years and they are all still working.”

Art: Peter Gentenaar

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A swell time was had by all at the 350th anniversary of British settlers landing their boats on the shores of what is still the smallest community in the smallest state! The sun shone, the speakers were brief, and lots of pictures were taken.

I thought we had come a long way as a country when several speakers, including the governor, acknowledged that the Manissean Indians were there first and that there would be another ceremony at the Indian Cemetery the following weekend, with another commemorative marker.

The governor, who had earlier visited an oyster aquaculture area by boat, was brief and gracious. Interesting speakers included a Rear Admiral with a surname that is pronounced — I kid you not — Neptune. He gave the chief of police an award for a risky rescue at sea last year.

Dutch Consul General Kibbelaar was there because it was a Dutch navigator who originally named the island as he sailed by without landing. British Consul General Budden, based in Boston, made jokes about his brother who is the Consul General in Vancouver and the bet he intended to collect since Boston won hockey’s Stanley Cup. Budden was invited because the British were the ones who landed at Settlers’ Rock 350 years ago. He said that Britain today is the biggest foreign investor in Rhode Island. The chorus of the island school (which had recently graduated all seven seniors) sang the Alma Mater and “America the Beautiful.”

Gov. Lincoln Chafee (in green blazer)

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Warden Kim Gaffett (in straw hat) and governor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dutch Consul General Kibbelaar (in white suit)

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