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Some biographical note

I was born in Amsterdam, 1949, first living in the centre, then in the suburbs, and now back in the centre again. After my secondary school I studied Dutch for a couple of years at university, until I found I did not have the personality to teach class. I switched the subject of my studies and became after quite some years a psychologist. I found a job at an institution that provided care for addicted people, and have been working in the mental health field ever since. My Dutch studies left their mark in keeping me interested in languages, I speak several and have been struggling with the most difficult to me, Turkish, for quite some years.

Profession

Because of a merger of my former employer, the Amsterdam Foundation for Drug assistance (SDA), I came to work for the Jellinek. My specialty there was to manage forms of housing for clients who needed a form of temporary or long term housing. Temporary housing was provided in a night shelter for up to 28 people or in one of three flats for people "passing through". More long term housing could be provided to clients willing to participate in one of several forms of "Managed Occupancy", best seen as a kind of school for those aspiring to have their own apartment. Clients who fared well in this school would have the contract to the apartment transferred to them name after a trial period of at least half a year. In all these forms of housing facilities the social need was put first in the sense that drug (or alcohol) usage was no objection, provided the client would keep within generally accepted bounds.

In the late 1990's I moved to a different job within Jellinek as a member of its staff. I have been working for a project, part of a nation wide move aimed at providing all personnel in the mental health sector with their own job description and valuation. For a while I also worked for EATI, the European Addiction Training Institute. That institute developed and implemented training courses in Europe, aimed at all forms of addiction. I assisted in some of their training activities and specifically was employed for what was called Transdrugs, a project to gauge training needs for workers in the addiction field, it was financed by Leonardo da Vinci, a European organization. 

In 2004 I started work for the Quality and Innovation department at Jellineks, where I partook in activities concerning quality management, intra- and internet, and whatever came my way. To complicate matters, Jellinek merged with a more general mental health oriented organisation, Mentrum, calling itself JellinekMentrum, and then merged again, resulting in Arkin. In March 2014 I leave there, becoming a pensioner.

Some thoughts regarding my activities

  • Throughout my working life I have mainly dealt with severely addicted people, often addicted to several drugs, and aiming less at "kicking the habit" (in order to reach so called abstinence) as at creating a humane existence for clients who did not find it within their own powers to make such an existence come true. I think that many problems relating to addiction are produced by a societal reaction to the use of substances, and might be prevented by a more lenient attitude towards their use and abuse. Gradually this insight is gaining ground nationally and internationally, but before we came this far many people (amongst them friends and acquaintances) have been criminalized and financially run to ground through law making and the likes of that.
  • I have in my younger years put quite some energy in the then emerging gay movement, in particular in the Amsterdam Action groups for Homosexuality, and later worked a couple of years at the national headquarters of COC, the major society for the integration of gays into society. There too it was obvious how a societal reaction might cause much damage to citizens who did nothing wrong in their own eyes, but got into trouble anyhow, due to a social verdict. Both in regards to addiction and in regards to homosexuality I hope that the tolerance will keep increasing, both in the Netherlands an (far) beyond them. It remains to be seen if the pendulum of history will not swing back some day.
  • I like visiting museums, reading (increasingly non-fiction, often history about the regions I visit and far beyond), working with computers. I manage to enjoy myself when alone, and am quite a loner, though I enjoy meeting people when abroad.

Photography

In high school it became obvious that I am a very bad draughtsman. I kept comparing my work with what I saw in the museums I visited, and knew it fell way, way behind. But when a fellow pupil suggested I join a photography club along with him I immediately became enthusiastic. When very young a friend of mine had a father who was a rather well-known Dutch photographer, Ad Windig, who even took lovely pictures of me as a baby. I remember seeing - when I visited his work room in old Amsterdam - big sheets floating in a solution and magically turning into an image. The photo club enabled me to repeat that magic, though on a smaller scale. They had a darkroom that I could use, on condition of occassionally showing up on club nights, where the pro’s and con’s of several types of film would be dicussed ad nauseam. Some other technical matters were discussed to, but over-all it was a bore. Visiting museums, reading books helped me develop some technique and a personal touch. And that was about it.

In my twenties I had a darkroom at home for a short while, improvised in the kitchen. The hassle was too much to my taste, and I decided I’d work in colour, using slide film instead of having to print. This forced me to “frame” each picture properly, as I could not edit it later (as I can now, working digitally, cropping, changing perspective, merging pictures into a panorama and all that). I think this helped me considerably. The fact that I mainly used the quite expensive Kodachrome film also forced me to take as few pictures as possible, another incentive to think before I pressed the shutter, waiting for the best moment.