My new website

I retired from IRC in early 2012 at 65, after 40 years of working in journalism, advocacy and communication. In the next few years I want to share my experience in the WASH sector from the last 30 years with the younger generation.
IRC has contracted me to still do 25 days work per year for them. In all I want to do work 50 days per year for which I have created H2O Communications and a website for it.
I hope I can do also some practical work for partners in the developing world. Skill training on storytelling in all formats with a purpose that can be linked with distant mentoring from my home.

Fabulous music clips from my career

I had a fabulous farewell retirement party on 18 January 2012 by IRC in The Hague . A party centre turned into an Amsterdam Jazz cafe, with a DJ with jazz on vinyl, a couple of nice speeches, and an All that Jazz publication from colleagues with their music choices for me. I had my mother (turning 88) and sister (turning 70) dancing! My daughter Mirjam and brother in law where also there.

I have listened all afternoon to Cor’s “Dick de Jong Tribute Eclectic Top Twenty” that was in the publication. He also emailed me his selection from Youtube with fantastic films. He is the one and only able to link all this music clips with his highlights from my career, even with links to my sabbatical leave blog from 2004 and 2005.

The playlist has great variety from all over the world, with some classic performances and events. I you are interested you can access it from You Tube.

Enjoy, comments are welcome!

Wilbur Schramm, the FBI and CIA

Cleaning up my archive I came across a special issue of the Journal of Communication, Winter 1996, Vol.46, No. 1/ISSN 0021-9916 that triggered me rereading six academic peer reviewed papers under the theme: Symposium: The Net.

Within three pages of the review section I was flabbergasted to read the denunciation of the communication guru of my younger years (at the first School of Journalism in Utrecht, 1966-1969) Wilbur Schramm. First by Howard H. Frederick (then Emerson College) and second by Canada’s communication guru Dallas W. Smythe. Continue reading

Mobile internet in Africa at 135 Euro per month

At my office we have lots of discussions about how we can share our free WASH content on water sanitation and hygiene water with Africa, with mobile phones spreading rapidly out there. I am always saying that most of the subscribers to our paper Source Bulletin newsletters do not have access to internet. Oh sure, I have come across the occasional NGO activist in Ghana and engineer in Nigeria that tell me to go to an Internet cafe each weekend to get our newsletter and download other relevant stuff from our site We all believe that mobile phones provide the chance for most Africans to get access to relevant content on the internet.

At the HIVOS/IICD Fill the Gap conference in Amsterdam last Friday we had some sobering news on this from Estelle Akofio-Sowah from Google in Ghana. The costs for internet access in Africa are coming down, but still costs 135 Euro per month. Google Ghana provides universities with free broadband internet access. They are introducing their android mobile phones at a price of around 38 euro.

Other challenges identified by Estelle included:

  • lack of local content
  • many local languages.

The free Friday afternoon was my first free time in my effort to reduce my workweeks in my retiring from work year.

IRC jewels then and now

I just finished three days of work at IRC in 2011, my last professional year before retiring. Various colleagues applaud my idea to start a blog with weekly posts. I call it IRC jewels then and now, sharing what I do and with what outputs, based on relevant lessons from my 30 years experience of newsletter writing and strategic marketing, communication and media work.

Part of this and my more personal observations on how I experience the gradual breaking away from my job I’ll also publish here. Today at 16:30 we had the first IRC drink with a few words for the New Year. This was the first event this year on which I can say:  this was the last one for me.

Working on a brochure on Bram Bosch

I just finished three weeks holiday at home in which I devoted a lot of time in writing a brochure on the life and paper cutting work of my great-grandfather Bram Bosch, who was a skipper on a boat doing inland transport all his life (1865-1943).

So far I completed 44 pages with text and some 25 of his paper cuttings. It will be published later this year by the W. Tj. Lever Foundation. Mr. Lever was the most famous among the Dutch artists who do paper cuttings.

Here is an example of his style, a boat cut from a letter.

For a preview on other interesting paper cuttings of my great grandfather look at my new web site that I am experimenting with on my Mac.

New pictures from paper cuttings Bram Bosch

As my earlier post has shown I am very proud of my great grand father Bram Bosch, who I know through the stories of my mother and his paper cuttings. I published a series of his paper cuttings and pictures on Flickr.

Christie’s in Amsterdam auctioned in 1988 all the paper cuttings from the W.T. Lever collection, four of them were from “Abraham Bosch, alias Bram Bosch, alias Brampie. Deze oud-zeeman vermaakte zijn ex-collega’s op de Schippersbeurs in Rotterdam met zijn komische knipsels”.

De Kraak van A. Bosch and Agaath in de Kolk, in Rotterdam.

Bram Bosch, his wife, daughter and dog on De Kraak

Solar power, electronics and mobile telephony bring water to Kenya villages

Telecommunications operator Safaricom’s M-PESA enables already 8.8 million subscribers in Kenya to send and receive money through their mobile phones. It also contributes to entirely new applications that can leverage this mobile payment system. ‘Computerised water’ is one of them. See the M-PESA YouTube videoContinue reading

Daily cycling in Amsterdam through foreign eyes

Most Dutchmen have two bicycles, one for work, school or shopping. Another one for the weekend, exercise, sport. There are more bicycles in The Netherlands than people. Here, a bicycle is not a poor man’s transport, as is the case everywhere else in the world.. Like many people in Amsterdam I do everything on my bike, I have never owned a car in my life.

Foreigners do not realize how normal cycling is in the live of every Dutchman, rich or poor. This is illustrated by the hilarious web pages by Brian from San Francisco. In a 73-minute period in September 2006 he took 82 pictures of bicycles at one corner of Nieuw Markt (a nice open square in Amsterdam). Sitting there he noticed how remarkably different the whole Amsterdam bicycle scene was from his home, the San Francisco area, California, USA. His pictures are great, his comments are funny and the reactions give lots of explanations and other pictures. The set from Reka on Picasa has lots of bicycles and many other interesting scenes from Amsterdam from June 2009.

Water problem mentioned by wise men

Back in white Amsterdam after two nice weeks Xmas holidaying with my friend Christiaan in Tipschern, Austria (hardly any snow) I scanned my old Volkskrant newspapers. I read many year – and first decade end lists and stories in the last week of December and forward looking features on global issues that we are confronted with, and not dealing with. And to my pleasure three wise men mentioned in their interviews water as one of the main problems. Continue reading