(Unedited) Podcast Transcript 357: Culture is Designed Every Century

October 28, 2021

This week we’re joined by Dutch architect Ton Venhoeven.  We chat about Utrecht’s new tram station TOD, the difference between the 15 minute and Micro City, planning policy and its history in the Netherlands, and the future of cities.

You can find the audio at Streetsblog USA or on the libsyn page.

Below is a full unedited transcript of the show:

Jeff Wood (43s):
Well, Ton, Venhoeven welcome to the talking head ways podcast. Yeah.

Ton Venhoeven (1m 20s):
Nice to be here.

Jeff Wood (1m 21s):
Well, thanks. Thanks for being here so early in the morning, it’s it’s midnight here. I believe it’s like 8:00 AM there in, in the

Ton Venhoeven (1m 27s):
Netherlands. It’s doable.

Jeff Wood (1m 30s):
It’s doable. I wouldn’t be awake at 9:00 AM, but before we get started, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Ton Venhoeven (1m 37s):
Yeah. I’m an architect from the Netherlands around planner. I try to do both architecture and urbanism them because I think that’s a, really what a, this time needs to, to bridge the gap between architecture and urbanism. I have an office of 17 people and we work on a whole range of projects. I’ve been a professor in architectural history and theory, chief government at Pfizer on infrastructure. I’m working for the world bank and doing my, my, my projects. But

Jeff Wood (2m 12s):
Where are you in, in the Netherlands right now? I’m in Amsterdam. Cool. My parents lived in Rotterdam for a year. I came to visit, but in about 2000 or so, but yeah, so my question, my first question is how did you get into architecture? Like what was the thing that spurred you to get interested in the topic?

Ton Venhoeven (2m 27s):
Actually, I wanted to become an economist and then I, I was hesitant a bit and then I saw a design from a famous Dutch architect, Herman Hertzberger and I was very enthusiastic about that. And then I knew I wanted to become an architect. Okay.

Jeff Wood (2m 47s):
That was it. You’re you’re you’re in for life. Yeah. So what, what path or like, how did you, how did you get through your education? Did you decide then you were just going to go to school and become an architect, or did you become an apprentice somewhere? Or how did that work?

Ton Venhoeven (3m 1s):
I went to a Delft university and that’s where I studied architecture. That’s mainly how I did it. After, after graduating from Delft, I taught in a telephone and lots of other schools and that’s where I picked up also a lot of stuff.

Jeff Wood (3m 19s):
Cool. So you’ve done a number of really great projects. I’m curious, like which one is your favorite? What is, what is one of your favorite projects that you’ve, you’ve worked on over the last maybe 10 years or so?

Ton Venhoeven (3m 28s):
It’s hard to say, but the one that is top of mind at the moment is the aquatic Olympic center in Paris. That’s a, that will be used in the 2024 Olympics. That’s a very exciting project because it’s, it’s not only a swimming pool with all kinds of options, for swimming, for water polo, et cetera. But it’s also an investment in the neighborhood of San Antonio. So it contributes to the revitalization of San knee. And that’s the kind of projects that are really,

Jeff Wood (4m 4s):
How does that work? I mean, in terms of the revitalization, I mean, we hear a lot about Barcelona and what happened on the waterfront there, obviously we just had a, the, the Olympic games in Tokyo and because of the pandemic, it was a little bit hard to judge kind of the regeneration efforts. But I’m curious how that works. When you’re thinking about designing a place for say the Olympics, how does the surrounding neighborhood kind of come into play?

Ton Venhoeven (4m 28s):
Well, there are different levels. One of course is the production of housing because you need to a house, all these athletes, and then this will be used. The apartments will be used afterwards. Also it’s a huge investment in a public space in transportation, Metro links, pedestrian bridge to connect the neighborhood to other neighborhoods that are better off, but also creating jobs, teaching young kids to swim, to make use of public space, to encounter each other because a lot of people are afraid to let their children play outside and also jobs here, but also jobs it during the production, in the recycling of building materials, et cetera.

Ton Venhoeven (5m 20s):
Yes.

Jeff Wood (5m 20s):
It’s just a, it’s such a fascinating thing. When, you know, cities are talking about the Olympics and what the buildings are going to be like. And then, you know, in the discussion about the Los Angeles Olympics, they’re talking about doing a lot of reuse of venues and things like that, and to keep the cost down, because I think folks are really getting frustrated, I think by the costs of the Olympics and what their cities are having to pay. So the regeneration efforts, I think, are a major payback for the cities, but it’s hard to sell. I think going into the future of the Olympics in terms of how much money these, these cities are spending.

Ton Venhoeven (5m 52s):
I think there are two sides to this issue. One is cities have to heavily in infrastructure in public space, et cetera, and under normal circumstances as hard to sell it to the public because it’s tax money that that is needed. The Olympics seems to be one of the few opportunities that cities have to make it a logical thing to sell to the public. The here this project is particularly interesting because it’s structure of the Olympics in Paris was conceived in the same period as the climate agreements.

Ton Venhoeven (6m 31s):
So there is a strong influence from the climate agreements to the Olympics and vice versa, which means that for example, all buildings will be existing buildings. There will be hardly any new buildings. This aquatic center is the only new building that is remaining and the other buildings of course are the apartments. And then we had to comply with all kinds of requirements for the building in terms of energy use in terms of material use, it’s at least 50% of the structure is made of wood, all these things. And also the social sustainability, the economic sustainability, all of these aspects were part of the, of the tender requirements that made it very challenging, but also interesting from a design point of view,

Jeff Wood (7m 26s):
Exciting to be building the only new building for the Olympics.

Ton Venhoeven (7m 30s):
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Jeff Wood (7m 32s):
Well, let’s chat a little bit about the tram and Bus terminology, recent to the U-Tech central station. How did this project come to be? Because in the United States, you know, we talk a lot about transit oriented development. This is something that I did and I worked on for a number of years, but I’m curious how this, how this project came to be, where you were working on kind of a bus station housing hybrid.

Ton Venhoeven (7m 51s):
What is interesting is that the citizens of Utah has been complaining for almost 50 years about this concrete monster of the station area. And it was a typical product of the sixties with lots of concrete consumerism, with French fries and horrible smells, drug abuse, et cetera. And so when this whole renovation revitalization of the station area started, everybody was very excited that, okay, this was a great opportunity to get rid of the highway of 300 meters or a half a kilometer and turn it into a proper canal.

Ton Venhoeven (8m 40s):
Again, they were excited about improving walkability of the station area. And part of that was also of course, that you have to think about public safety. You cannot have areas in the, in the station area where there is no social activity because that’s where the nasty stuff happens. So a plan was made by urban planners to, with the city redevelop this station area. And part of it was also a new trendline. We call it the tram line, but actually a Metro line going to the university of Utah that connects to the station that came in the place of very long and high frequent buses, because all the students, they arrive at the station and from there, they are to take the bus to go to the university.

Ton Venhoeven (9m 38s):
So when, when this whole development took place, the first idea was to cut streets, proper streets through this concrete mass, and also built normal projects along those streets with very good connection to that public space. So here was a bus station. This was a bus station, and that was typically the backside of the station. Also the arrival of the Metro line was planned. And then everybody said, well, it’s a difficult location, but we have to make a building here with apartments, with people. So we get the public activity here that, that is needed for this place.

Ton Venhoeven (10m 24s):
And then they wrote a tender with those requirements. So there was a clear, brief about a zoning about all the qualitative aspects of this project and the, the bits, the financial bid was not very, I, I was, at least it should be three and a half million euros because that’s what was needed to, to build over the station. So I think in the end, our team bid are like 4 million, four and a half million or something, really a low price, because the most important for the city was to have citizens there and to have a good building there that would contribute to the quality of the station area.

Jeff Wood (11m 7s):
And how did you negotiate with the transit agency? Because it is, it is a bus and tram station next to the regional and national train system, but you’re building apartments on top and you have green roof, you have all kinds of other important parts of the project, but how did you negotiate with the transit agency to develop it? Was it just that you decided to build a platform on top and then you build housing or was there like a negotiation between figuring out how it all worked together?

Ton Venhoeven (11m 33s):
Yeah. There was a long negotiation beforehand, before we won the tender. And the idea was all already the, the company that built the Metro line at already included this a deck in there price that was three and a half million. So why the municipality wanted to have this three and a half million? The idea was because the Metro line, I was on a construction. We had a timeframe, a window of opportunity to build the project, but it was necessary to build a deck before the Metro would start running a test drives.

Ton Venhoeven (12m 15s):
And then after that, there were all kinds of safety measures to take care of that. Anything falling down would not form the Metro,

Jeff Wood (12m 25s):
Probably a good thing to not have stuff falling on the Metro. There’s there’s 200 units in the project. Was there a public housing component or affordable housing component?

Ton Venhoeven (12m 36s):
So the, the, it was so important for the city that said, they said, we want to have affordable housing. So not social housing, which means 1200 euros average price per month rent, which is quite affordable in the Netherlands. It’s, it’s very attractive for people starting. Their current

Jeff Wood (12m 58s):
Ecology was also important without the green roof and the ability to have insects and, and the general kind of biodiversity involved. How, how did that pan out when you were trying to design the space?

Ton Venhoeven (13m 10s):
One of the most forward thinking cities in the Netherlands, they have very strong interest in creating a healthy city system. They want to get rid of private cars. They want to promote walking, cycling, and also biodiversity. This also is related of course, to the heat stress aspects of station areas, where you have a lot of concrete buildings, paved streets, et cetera. We wanted to include that. And we also did that. And what is important is that we took the advice from ecologists because they explained to us how the habitat of this building, the biotech is related to the biotopes of other places nearby.

Ton Venhoeven (13m 59s):
So then our landscape designer, I decided to use plants which are native and also which, which are good place for, for bees to live, et cetera. And it was very interesting because after, after one month we already had a beehive in the project. That was great. I really like it, that this project is not one selling point. It has all these aspects, which are necessary today, low energy consumption, optimal use of public transport buyer, diversity included, et cetera.

Jeff Wood (14m 40s):
You’re reading material. It’s it talks about it as a Micro city. And I guess that relates to the 15 minute city that people around the world seem to be having a discussion about at the moment. I’m curious, are those two terms interchangeable or are they two different ideas?

Ton Venhoeven (14m 54s):
They are very much related. The basic idea. If, if you say the basic idea is can you have everything you want in 15 minutes, walk within 15 minutes walking, then it’s related. If you think about, okay, how can we really make the services that are needed in contemporary cities with the people? I think the 15 minutes city is could do that, but it’s lacking this social aspect of the Micro city. The Micro city is more like a enabled 2.0, where you also think about, if you consider that you have multi-generational neighborhoods, you have small kids, you have also people who are pension.

Ton Venhoeven (15m 41s):
Now, those people who are ill sometimes, and then they are healthy again. So you have this mix of people. It also creates the opportunity for people to organize themselves, for example, for food production or for energy production or for repair activities or lending stuff to other people. If you want to do that, you need to have a social structure, a social framework in your neighborhoods. So the micro city, as I see it is, is like 15 minutes walking entity, which connects to the larger urban area with hubs.

Ton Venhoeven (16m 25s):
So it’s, it would be a neighborhood where there is only very limited to car traffic. And you basically walk towards your hub. And from there you take the train or the bus, or, or you rent a car or whatever, creating that unity, that community in that neighborhood that makes it possible for people to become local entrepreneurs in a collective way. And there are by organized their own living and maybe produce their own stuff. They could own a 3d printing shop.

Ton Venhoeven (17m 6s):
They could teach each other how to deal with in the digital culture. It’s comparable to the 15 minutes City, but it’s, I think it’s more,

Jeff Wood (17m 15s):
I like that. I like that it’s more of a social structure than just kind of an infrastructure, because I think sometimes we get caught talking about the infrastructure in itself, and it’s really the people that live there that make up the place. And it’s hard to kind of separate the two, but we often do at least here in the U S as planners. And right now we’re talking about an infrastructure bill and it’s just talking about building stuff, building roads, and then we have to kind of remind people that there’s a social infrastructure to it as well. I think that encompasses it quite nicely. Yeah.

Ton Venhoeven (17m 45s):
I think it’s very much related also to the walking aspect. I remember when I was in Los Angeles, that people looked at us such that we were walking and they constantly warrants us that it’s unsafe to walk, but that, that is a chicken and egg issue. If you don’t walk in the city, then the public space becomes unsafe. And so it’s important to plan for a walkable city.

Jeff Wood (18m 16s):
Well, if you come to San Francisco, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll let you walk a little bit more than maybe. But I enjoyed when I, when I visited the Netherlands back in 2000, I enjoyed running and walking all around Rotterdam. It was really easy to get places, you know, just by walking and running, which is what I was doing at the time. Even at 3:00 AM, go for a run at 3:00 AM because I couldn’t sleep. Obviously the time change gets to you. So, you know, it’s, it’s a wonderful place to be. I have a question about kind of the, the, the difficulty of the project. W what was the hardest part of putting it all together?

Ton Venhoeven (18m 50s):
The hardest part was not the design. That’s rather, you know, it’s, it’s just a design assignment. It’s technical. What was a problem is that there were two things, two main issues. One is that the contracting company, the contractor, I had the assignments for this deck. So the first two or three floors were built by that contractor. And then there were huge negotiations with our developer, wanted to make use of his sir of the services of this contractor, but they couldn’t fix the price.

Ton Venhoeven (19m 35s):
And so then they said goodbye to each other, and my developer founded his own contracting company. So that’s an interesting model. And then that caused a delay, but also a different approach towards contracting because this new contractor didn’t buy everything in the beginning, but he bought the stuff along the way. And we came out of this financial crisis of 2008, 2012. What we experienced during that time was that the prices went up like crazy.

Ton Venhoeven (20m 19s):
And so we had to constantly cut budgets for our pieces and redesign stuff to make it work. In the end, the developer suffered a loss. We also suffered a loss, but the city has a very nice project. I’m happy with that.

Jeff Wood (20m 40s):
Yeah. I guess that, that would make anybody think twice about becoming their own contractor in the future.

Ton Venhoeven (20m 45s):
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. It’s a, it’s very strange because in that period, I think price went up by 50% within two years. It’s almost comparable now.

Jeff Wood (20m 57s):
Yeah, we had, yeah. I don’t know if this, the same there, but here, you know, during the, kind of the height of the, of the pandemic would prices, for example, lumber prices went up skyrocketed. And so it was, it was kind of crazy seeing how much people were paying for Wood and it’s gone down since then, but it was, it was kind of insane, but I can see where if you started a project kind of at the beginning of the pandemic and you were working on it through there, you might’ve been pulling your hair out because of the costs.

Ton Venhoeven (21m 26s):
Yeah. Yeah. And it’s the same now. I mean, you start a project and along the way, it’s, it’s going 50% over budget. And it also means that you constantly have to rethink your decisions. Luckily the revenues also go up, but

Jeff Wood (21m 45s):
Yeah, and this is something, I mean, the, the, the station and the transit oriented development, the stationary redevelopment, this is something that the Dutch government is kind of in, in encouraging around the country. Is this something that they’ve been focusing more on in recent years, or is it something that they’ve always kind of thought about, but maybe they’re doing a little bit more case study work on it these days?

Ton Venhoeven (22m 6s):
I think that in the past we had a very strong transit-oriented development strategy. Let’s say that cities are cycling cities with a station, but that’s until the second world war after the second world war, there was a big focus on building new suburbs and based on the private car and in the Netherlands also bus systems. So gradually the stations in the city centers, the stations that were built at the end of the 19th century on the, on the side of the cities, where are gradually in the cities, in the city center, but the, where people lived was a much further away.

Ton Venhoeven (22m 55s):
So the interest in the stations and station areas started, let’s say in the nineties with a huge success in France of the high speed trains. So it was decided that the high-speed train would come to the Netherlands as well to Amsterdam. And now we also have a connection with a high-speed train to London, and people are talking about a high-speed train to Berlin. So that cost the first new wave of station redevelopment with five major train stations of which a U-turn to Rotterdam Amsterdam are important examples after people rediscover it as a station.

Ton Venhoeven (23m 44s):
And there is covered is actually extremely comfortable to take the train to wrote to them so many 20, 25 minutes, whereas you take your car it’s one and a half hour. That means that there is also the cities decided to focus on inner city, redevelopment, densification, and stop with building up Meadows, try to transform the agriculture and to more circular agriculture, better for biodiversity, less CO2 emissions. The whole process is now full speed.

Ton Venhoeven (24m 24s):
And we’re also working on station areas of provincial cities, provincial towns with only like 100,000 inhabitants, but because they are connected to Amsterdam, you cannot go to Amsterdam by car anymore because there’s nowhere to park. So you better take the train from Alkmaar. That’s an example where, where I’m working on. So these, these station areas, they follow suit.

Jeff Wood (24m 56s):
That’s really interesting is the stationary planning for those smaller, smaller cities and towns. Is that similar to what you would do in a larger city? Or are they separate based on kind of the size of the,

Ton Venhoeven (25m 9s):
Yeah, of course it’s, it’s fair. It differs a lot per city. Most cities like Amsterdam has to build like a 400,000 apartments in the next 20 years, and that’s not possible within the municipality. So 200,000 is the max. And that means that a lot of people, they are depending on these smaller cities and actually use. When you talk about Amsterdam, you should talk about the metropolitan area because within one hour travel, you find like 10 million people.

Ton Venhoeven (25m 52s):
And to Amsterdam, metropolitan area is one and the Rotterdam metropolitan areas, the other, the advanced start altogether, the city of Amsterdam, the together, that’s 10 million people. And I think you can travel easily within at least one and a half hour maximum one and a half hour. But most of it is you can travel within one hour. So people tend to live in small communities or provincial towns and still be part of this metropolitan area. So how to organize that traffic in the most optimal way, that’s an important challenge.

Ton Venhoeven (26m 35s):
But the other challenge is how to make a lot of apartments in those provincial towns in the city centers next to the station. So that’s where we try to also develop economic activities. So people also people from not, you don’t have a full trains from Otmar to the city of Amsterdam, but also full trains in the other opposite direction. So that’s why we work also for national rail, not for the city of Alkmaar and the national real is working together with the city of Ottmar, but they are the, the main driver behind this development.

Jeff Wood (27m 15s):
And that relates to kind of the idea of mobility hubs generally. I mean, those stations act as a center for the city and people have to get to, and from there without their automobile, many people don’t have automobiles. Can you, can you kind of describe that process too, of thinking about mobility hubs and, and thinking about what those stationary is, could be and, and how people can get around with a new, kind of a new paradigm.

Ton Venhoeven (27m 37s):
What we try to do is to minimize cardio’s at least private Koreans. So we work on those station areas as 15 minutes cities. So we try to organize the functions in that area in such a way that you can find everything you need within 15 minutes walking, even though you have a train, but the train is actually the, and the bus system is a backup for walking. So the main idea is that people do everything walking and they don’t have to walk a lot so they can enjoy what they want to do instead of being forced to travel.

Ton Venhoeven (28m 19s):
So that’s the 15 minutes. So we, we think about how can we improve existing streets? How can we remove parked cars? How can we introduce green in those areas? And how can we add lots of new housing, economic spaces? How can we make use of the education institutes that are there, but also how can we provide parking spaces for cyclists? Because what you see now is more and more people tend to take the electric bike to commute, because if they live in small villages next to Alkmaar, they also use this train station, but detect the electric bike to the train station and from there and detect the train to answer them.

Ton Venhoeven (29m 4s):
So that’s also interesting feature. So the 15 minutes City principle is very important. And then of course, you start to work on your checklist. What is it that is needed for the city of the future? And you start with energy infrastructure for traveling the bus system, the car sharing systems, the ports, the, whatever, everything that you talk about. We also talk about it. And the national real is, has a very strong program to introduce that in their park and right facilities.

Ton Venhoeven (29m 44s):
So the park and ride facility is also part of the station because this, the provincial towns tend to have more of a car culture, because they’re not used to a very advanced public transport system. If you live on a, in a village, there is no high frequent Metro. So people take the bicycle or to take the car and go to the station, park their car, and then take the train to Amsterdam. So this organizing this system and making use of it and economic development, and also for the 15 minutes City, that’s a, the main challenge.

Jeff Wood (30m 24s):
We’re the chief government advisor on, on infrastructure for the Dutch government for a while. I’m curious how you make this policy, like how, how does the government write the policy so that everybody will follow those plans to make the stationary as the places where they need to develop the transport operating the way it’s supposed to? How does the policy work so that everybody in different cities and access similar process and policy, is there a, is there like a planning document for the country? How does that work specifically? I’ve always been curious.

Ton Venhoeven (30m 57s):
We used to have, especially after the second world war, we had a very strong planning system because, because of the need for lots of houses, the housing sector was extremely powerful. So Planning of new neighborhoods, Planning of apartment buildings, et cetera, everything was organized on a national level with subsidies and deadlines for the subsidies. So if you didn’t follow the rules, you didn’t get money, things like that. But from the seventies on the oil crisis and neoliberalism by Thatcher and Reagan, big government was seen as a bad thing and against economic development.

Ton Venhoeven (31m 41s):
So a lot of the powers were taken away from the ministry for Planning also in the cities, the right-wing liberal politicians, like how can I compare them? Let’s say conservative, conservative liver, liberal, liberal, in a sense that free market conservatism,

Jeff Wood (32m 6s):
I guess we’d call that like libertarian here is

Ton Venhoeven (32m 9s):
Like libertarian. Yeah. It’s not as extreme as in the states, but you’re also at the municipal level. A lot of power was taken away from urban planners. And now you see that there is a trend that people acknowledge that only urban planning consult a lot of the issues. We regain some power where even talking at the national level about creating a new ministry for Planning it’s it would be a revolution if that happens. That’s exciting. Yeah. It’s really exciting. So what, what happened is that during my time, spatial planning was part of different ministries.

Ton Venhoeven (32m 55s):
In one period, it was part of the environmental ministry in other, it was part of the infrastructure and ministry, but it was not even allowed to mention Planning as a name, as a name. It was not allowed to mention that. So what we did was let’s say, prepare for a future, if you cannot influence the policy of next year or the year after that, or the year after that, you just think I had, okay, let’s come up with solutions that, that we know we need in the coming 20 years.

Ton Venhoeven (33m 36s):
So when I left as government advisor, I wrote a book as a legacy about multimodal note development. And that’s the first time that I already wrote down about the hubs, because there was such a strong tendency to support the car and subsidize the car. It was only allowed to talk about multimodal access. And so not a model shift, but multimodal access. So that’s where, what are used most within the ministry to get the minds of car believers, to shift, to acknowledging that also in certain areas of public transport was very,

Jeff Wood (34m 23s):
If you’re thinking on the future of cities, I know that you helped put together a piece thinking about 2050 in the future. For me, when I was reading through it, I think, you know, one of the things that I really liked was it was focused on a number of different items, climate change, resource depletion, loss of biodiversity pollution. All of these issues that we think are really important in this era of, of thinking about climate change. But it was kind of refreshing to think about the whole system rather than just the planning or just the transportation aspect. I’m curious to what your thoughts are on, on the future of the city. And, and looking forward to 2015,

Ton Venhoeven (34m 58s):
I think we cannot afford to first solve the Transportation crisis and then solve the energy crisis and then solve the biodiversity crisis. Then it’s a 2120 100th and everything is lost. That’s one. The other is that a lot of these systems are so interdependent that if you only talk about changing the infrastructure, there are just too many lock-ins. So it’s fully related with the economic system. We have, if you think about biodiversity loss in the Netherlands, we are at a second agricultural producer in the world, and we are in debt because we import the soy beans that are cattle needs.

Ton Venhoeven (35m 47s):
And for that, the Amazon is cut down. So everything is related. So we really need to big systems change. I think it’s the task of urban planners, not on a daily basis, but if you’re asked to, can you help? And we were asked by the ministries by some couple of ministries and the five big cities in the Netherlands, can you help us to visualize what is needed for the future of our cities? So then we went all out. I felt like people must have felt who were working at Bauhaus in the 20th century, you know, or in the Russian constructivist.

Ton Venhoeven (36m 28s):
I studied a lot of those historical movements.

Jeff Wood (36m 34s):
That one too.

Ton Venhoeven (36m 34s):
Yeah, exactly. So what you see is that people in those ages, they, they looked at the whole system and they, they designed the new culture and I was taught by other people or other people told me, culture is something you cannot change. It’s, it’s just like that. And it goes on and on, and your design should fit into that culture. No, no, no. Culture is Designed Every 100 year. We make a radical shift because systems don’t work anymore. And that’s a where you can see also this, this chicken.

Jeff Wood (37m 14s):
Yeah. And it was interesting looking at, you know, you look back at, at CIM, you looked back at local Boucher, some of the, you know, the ideas of the past. And obviously they, they weren’t quite right. And they didn’t quite work out the way that maybe they wanted them to be. What did you learn from looking back on that history that you take forward with you?

Ton Venhoeven (37m 32s):
I think they were extremely successful. When you look at their aim, the aim was to use mechanization and serial production to create prosperity for all. And if you compare the prosperity now today, or let’s say 20 years ago to the, the prosperity of the end of the 19th century, they made a huge leap in creating this prosperity. But if you look at what they didn’t see is all the, all the biodiversity loss and the huge inequalities between the super rich and extremely poor contemporary slavery, because we have this globalized system where that nobody controls.

Ton Venhoeven (38m 22s):
Those are things that you cannot judge them. You can only judge yourself if you, without being critical, just follow the same path and go on business. As usual, we are responsible for changing our way of,

Jeff Wood (38m 41s):
We have so much more knowledge now. You’re, I mean, we know how things work, how things are interconnected. I mean, current systems in the ocean, we wouldn’t have really known, you know, it takes a long time to study those things in real and research to know that what’s going on with the oceans and how that’s impacting climate change, how much CO2 they can absorb. I mean, nobody really knew back then those types of issues. So I guess we have to be mindful of the things that we can be mindful of. And then in the future, there’s probably something we’re forgetting as well.

Ton Venhoeven (39m 11s):
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. We are probably also making mistakes, but don’t worry too much about it because there are other people in the future that will deal with that.

Jeff Wood (39m 25s):
I guess that could be two ways. We, we we’re, we’re pushing them to make those decisions as well, making their lives harder, maybe. Well, so where can folks find your work if they want to take a, take a look at some of your projects at some of the really cool stuff that you all have done, some of your writing, where can folks go to find, find your

Ton Venhoeven (39m 43s):
Work, go to my website?

Jeff Wood (39m 47s):
You have the URL, I guess I can post I’ll post the Euro URL in the, in the show notes. So folks can, can check it out. Well, Tom, we thank you so much for joining us. We really, really appreciate your time. Thank you.

Ton Venhoeven (39m 58s):
Yeah, it was a nice conversation.


Listen to the Talking Headways Podcast

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