Introversion in social movements


A week ago I left early from a trainings weekend of the Dutch Climate Movement, in which up to 80 involved people came together to do workshops, have discussions, make plans and have fun. After one day I felt like I had had enough stimuli and it was okay for me to leave. However, later at home I felt a little sad and disconnected. Had I made the wrong decision? That day we had discussed how the climate movement welcomes everyone, including minorities. Now I would like to write about the minority of introverts.

The fact that I am introverted plays a big role in how I experience events like this is. Most often introversion is explained as ‘social interactions cost energy’, whereas for extroverts ‘social interactions give energy’. I personally don’t like this explanation too much, because for me the kind of social interaction makes all the difference. I, as do most introverts, highly value intimate conversations and indeed these give me energy. Meeting new people can give me energy too, but it depends on the context.

What I like better as a more fundamental explanation of introversion versus extroversion is looking at the different ways of perceiving or processing information. In her book Quiet, subtitled The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain writes that ‘there are almost as many definitions of introvert and extrovert as there are personality psychologies’ (p.10). However, psychologists do generally agree on some points, among which ‘that introverts and extroverts differ in the level of outside stimulation that they need to function well’ (p.11). This means that introverts get more easily overstimulated (and extroverts probably get more easily bored).

I’m just slightly overwhelmed and need some time to take it all in.

For me this feels really real. I do not generally process information quickly. This really depends on the information and situation, but in situations involving many stimuli I just need more time than many others. And really, people are very many stimuli. So in group discussions and brainstorms I tend to just observe and process what’s being said by others, for that’s big enough of a task for me. So I don’t really get to contribute. It’s not that I don’t understand or don’t have anything to add, it’s just that I am slightly overwhelmed and need some time to take it all in.

Maybe this is not introversion but just my way of thinking, but I just want or need to be totally clear about what the others are saying, which takes time. Often the things people say in brainstorms or discussions are not so clear; information is lacking and ideas are still vague, etcetera. Somehow others seem to manage to reply quickly with smart suggestions and such, while I am still processing the previously discussed ideas.

But really, I also just enjoy watching and listening to others. I don’t feel the need to push myself into being more outspoken. I accept myself and my preferences, but sometimes, like today, it can make me feel a bit sad and disconnected.

I really like to feel deeply connected to others.

In the trainings weekend’s workshop about non-violent communication I realised that my most-often felt (unmet) need is the one of connection. I really like to feel deeply connected to others. Often I do manage to feel this connection, but in some situations, as the one of today with too many stimuli for my liking, this is just difficult. I then end up closing up and thereby creating distance, which is the opposite of what I really crave.

In general I find it easy to connect to (other) people who care for social justice, our environment and the climate, for animals; the people who are involved in social movements to make a positive change. These people are generally kind-hearted. I’d also say that many of them are actually soft-spoken, and those kind of people are the ones I find the easiest to be around and to connect to. Just not so much in big group discussions.

So, even though I left because the situation wasn’t ideal for me, I did like being there. I think that if I would have taken some time and space to be with only one other person for a bit, that that would have helped me to connect to myself and the other(s). Based on this I was wondering whether it would’ve been good if there would’ve been more opportunity for that, but actually there was a lot of space to take a little distance. I just didn’t find my way to do so.

Importantly, in social movements there is a lot of space for everyone to do what they like the most. Apart from these social gathering events a great deal of activism is done individually or in small groups.

Social movements are not built from loud, angry people.

Activism takes a lot of analysing and organising. It is not just shouting your message to the public. Social movements are not built from loud, angry people. Every demonstration is organised by a group of individuals doing the best they can, in their own way. Organising activities requires a lot of communication, also in the form of writing emails, and promotion, in the form of writing promotional texts, designing posters, etc. All these things can perfectly be done by introverts who for example don’t like public speaking.

If you take the initiative, others are likely to want to join.

And if you want to organize a crazy action and you need help from someone with different qualities or preferences, you are likely to be able to find it. A friend noticed that very many people are willing to help and get involved, but not so many people take up the initiative to start. So taking the initiative and bringing people together is really useful! You don’t have to do it all alone. But there is a lot of space for more individual activism as well, if you prefer that. You can for example write blog posts about activism.

Earlier I was slightly afraid my leaving would be misinterpreted as me being uninterested or not social, but actually, I think most people would understand. Right? Otherwise this blog post may help to some extent. I wrote it mainly to strengthen my feelings of connectedness, to help others feel more connected and to give interested people more insight in social movements, so to make getting involved easier and more attractive. If you have questions; I may be able to answer! If you have additions: SHOUT! Or calmly write it down.

Take your time to get involved, but surely we do need to take action to stop climate change.

Shea butter for the skin

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Personal Care

It’s a giant jar of shea butter! For size reference purpose I added the tiniest Minneapolis apple.

Shea butter is my favourite skin care product. This means a lot, since I am a regular sufferer of eczema, dry skin, allergies, itches and the like. I like how shea butter is just a natural product without perfumes or other things added. It’s super creamy and fatty and it really relieves my skin. Other fatty products like oils are supposed to have the same effect, but for me they often makes it worse, making my skin feel more itchy and greasy, brr. But shea butter is better! It immediately soothes and hydrates more. (For me it does not instantly help for huge eczema/allergy outbreaks, but that would also be too much to expect.)

Shea butter comes from the nuts of the shea tree, the Butyrospermum Parkii, which grows in West Africa, so the raw version is a fully natural product. It has all these great qualities of inducing cell renewal (?)  and containing vitamin A, E and F and it even works as a (limited) sunblock! It works for your skin, hair and it is edible, although it has a distinct taste (and smell, but I’m not bothered by it at all). Also, you can mix it with other oils and fluff it up in a blender so it becomes more creamy! I never tried, but it sounds cool. My boyfriend intends to make shaving cream this way, which may be a good idea.

You can find all its good qualities and how it’s made online, wherever. I will just say that I really love the stuff and recommend you’d try it! You can get raw, organic and fair-trade shea butter maybe in shops but also online. For me the latter seemed cheaper and nicer than in the stores I checked (with less costs for packaging, branding, etc.).

I like the Dutch online store Natural Heroes where I got it. This was my third order of a series with increasing shea butter jar sizes. Natural Heroes sells many natural oil and related products and encourages creating your own, natural, low-impact products by mixing high-quality ingredients. They also sell the awesome natural shea butter based African black soap, which may be my second favourite skin care product. So if you’re going for it: be sure to add a sample of that to your shopping cart!

PS: If the costs of your Natural Heroes order are over 30 euros, you get free shipping; and if it’s over 40 euros, you get 10 euros discount by using the code ‘TIENEURO’.

PPS: Today is my 5-year anniversary with WordPress! (This blog is not so old yet.)

Wood-fired Vegan Pizza Party

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Two weeks ago was the Re-Greening Weekend, co-organised by me, in which we showed  green-minded students a great deal of the sustainable initiatives and organisations located in Wageningen, to stimulate discussions and other activity and to help interested people to connect and become part of the green movement. The program was pretty awesome, the people were nice and interested and over all we think it was a great success!

The Creative Community Garden was so kind to host our group for a pizza lunch! The Creative Garden is more or less what you would expect from the name: a place to experiment with gardening: ‘(…) we’re busy making a shared experimental garden to explore different practical ideas, grow stuff and learn from each other.’ You can find more info is on the website. The place is beautiful and the people are really nice as well, so definitely be sure to check it out if you live here.

Onto the pizzas! We brought many different toppings so there was enough to choose from. The dough was prepared by the Creative Garden crew, and people could roll it out themselves and decorate it with toppings of their liking. There were some absolute beauties.


Someone managed to sneak in cheese so not all were vegan, but of course I liked the vegans the most. I love the colours and mandala-like patterns.


The toppings we had: tomato sauce, aubergine, mushrooms, courgette and a herb mixture from the Creative Garden, capers, different coloured paprikas, tomato pieces, corn, sunflower seeds, onion and garlic-and-herbs-infused olive oil. We also had some edible flowers from the Creative Garden and we planned to bring pesto, which we forgot.


The oven! I believe it is build according to the rocket-stove principles. On the website they use the term ‘cob oven’, meaning that it is made of clay, sand, straw and water. Read about their oven and future plans here. If you have questions about this, you may ask them here and I will answer in collaboration with my more-knowing boyfriend.


Anyhow, the pizzas were done after only a few minutes in the oven! Which meant that there was a good turn-over time, which made the process of making and eating pizza go real smoothly and organically.

That’s it! I hope you like the colours and designs of the pizzas as much as I do, and that you enjoyed the last days and weeks of sunshine and warm weather, as autumn sets in today. Now we get to enjoy the plenty colours and designs of autumn leaves!🙂

If you’re interested in more pizza inspiration: to find my earlier pizza posts on Munching on a Dream, go to the pizza tag page. And tell me about your favourite toppings in the comments!

Clothing swaps and other ways of sharing

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Over the years I have collected a lot of stuff: clothes, books, albums, decoration stuff, key chains, cosmetics, … – many of the things I’m not using! I’ve been hoping to somehow use them sometimes, but that didn’t happen. So I’m just sitting here in my pile of potential. Because the stuff has potential! Just not here with me.

Many of us know this situation and want to do better. The first thing in mind is to bring everything you’re not using to a second-hand store, so others can find it and use it again! However, there are reasons why we haven’t done this yet. Luckily, there are some approaches or platforms that may work better for certain stuffs! I’d like to show you some you may not know.

Clothing swaps

Clothes are tricky. We wear clothes every day, so it’s easy to think that you may want to use it later. Also, there are already so many second-hand clothes, so will my nice ones find another wearer? Will she love it as much as I do? All though I don’t wear ’em, I do love ’em! I would, if there was a right opportunity…

What I found to work well is clothing swaps! It works like this: before the clothing swap event you bring in any number of clothing items, for which you receive vouchers. These vouchers can be used on the actual event, on which all collected items are displayed, as ‘payment’ for other items you like! Bring in 6 items? Take away 6! If you want more, you may have to make a donation for the organisation or a good cause.

I feel as if this approach works, because when advertised well, many people bring and take clothes for and from the same event, meaning that there will be a great re-distribution. I have co-organised two clothing swaps, and it really seems like people are more willing to bring clothes this way than to bring them to a second-hand store. People, mostly students in our case, trust others to bring nice items as well, which they themselves can choose from on the event. This can make it easier to let go of your ‘surplus’ clothes, which in the end may be better for everyone.


Clothing swap in Fair Shopping Week 2015 by WEP

Selling service with ownership

Something I’ve seen a lot in Finland and which seems to be upcoming in the Netherlands are shops where you can rent a shelve on which to display your goods. If someone wants your thing, he or she pays at the counter in the shop. After the rent period you come to collect your remaining items and the money the shop made selling the others. Simple as that! You bring your stuff, it remains yours, they may sell if for you, you get the money. You’d only have to pay a little extra for the service!

Last year I was in the board of a student organisation, Wageningen Environmental Platform (WEP), through which we also organised the clothing swaps. WEP manages a second-hand bookshop for study books for university courses! This is awesome, because it can save huge amounts of trees and other environmental damage.

The bookshop system is the same as described above. Sellers bring their books and set prices. The books remain in their ownership while on the shelves in the shop. Buyers pay the price set by the seller, plus a small fee for using the service. The seller then gets the money transferred to their bank account. If the book is not sold, the seller can decide to take the book back and try selling it elsewhere, or lower the price, give it away for free, etc.

This way you know whether or not your stuff gets a new place, and you can even make a little money out of it. If the stuff doesn’t find an owner, then you can decide yourself what to do. I think many people are afraid their stuff ends up still not being used or even being destroyed, while you could have used it at a certain moment in time if it was still yours… This approach helps with that. Read More

Heaps of Hummus

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Spread the hummus! Many of my friends and me use it a lot. We bring it to pot luck meals and picknicks; use it as toppings or dips for about anything and as ingredient for warm meals like quiches and wraps. Chickpeas, the main ingredient of hummus, are such good peas. The next best ingredient of hummus is tahin or sesame paste, which is in itself pretty awesome as well. And then there’s garlic, salt, pepper, lemon, olive oil and possibly more… If you particularly care about proteins: they’re in there as well, loads of them.

These pictures show how hummus is supposed to look. You see the drips of olive oil near the edge of the spread out hummus, the bulbs of tahin closer to the centre, topped with what’s probably paprika powder and some parsley flakes or so.

My boyfriend and me had lunch at De Hummus House in Amsterdam, where it has two locations. This one is at Korte Leidsedwaarsstraat 62 close to Museumplein (museum square). They serve hummus plates like this one with the fluffiest pita bread and toppings of your choice. I had an aubergine topping, but I liked the fava bean one of my boyfriend better. Aubergine remains to be an odd vegetable.


Hummus with topping of slow-cooked fava beans and stewed tomatoes

The whole plate of hummus was a bit hard to swallow, for it was a large amount of hummus and it’s just much of the same. Maybe with another topping I would’ve liked it better. But we were well supplied with salt, pepper, pickled cucumber, garlic-lemon sauce and olives so we could spice it up! I managed to finish most of it.

The star of the meal may as well have been the pita bread actually, for it was super soft and fluffy, oohooh. If you know how to produce something like that, please share!

Check out the website of De Hummus House to find their locations, find this specific location on HappyCow (added by me, ha!) and check their menu (with pictures!). They also serve other Mediterranean dishes and salads. Most of the dishes are vegan and this is quite easy to distinguish from the menu (how I understood; I may forgot an exception…). The Coconut Malabi dessert is vegan too! And they have soy milk for in the coffee.

Happy happy Thai food

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In the Forest Monastery in the North of Thailand the abbot or chief monk would motivate the people by giving pre-meal speeches packed with the phrases ‘happy happy Thai food’ and ‘big party’. He did seem to be an exceptionally happy guy, so something must be good there. Is it Thai Buddhism or the Thai food?

Thai food is great. I’m not a fan of the animals and the increasing dairy use, but leave that out and you got yourself some great variety of rice in all forms, soy in all forms, many vegetables and mushrooms, tropical fruits, peanuts, chilli and other spices, lots of coconut milk and desserts made out of beans. They also like all forms of frying, and sugar. Food can be bought on the streets everywhere – in Bangkok there’s even a market on a railway. And food comes in many layers of plastic, which is a bit sad. And they have ice coffee, but often with cows milk in it, even though many Asian bellies cannot handle it so well. More about that later.

In my pictures the glorious dishes of fried rice and curry (especially that particular massaman curry with coconut milk, peanuts and potatoes of Doi Soi 12 in Bangkok and the crispy tofu one on Koh Chang…), fried morning glory and the mango sticky rice dessert are missing, but still they give a good impression. Most of my pictures are taken in restaurants instead of on markets where food is cheaper and a bit less polished, but where food can taste just as good.



Summer rolls and sunflower salad at Doi Soi 12


Pad Thai/fried noodles with soy sprouts, soy tofu and peanuts


Street fruits papaya and water melon in re-used plastic container


Luxurious vegetarian meal on the train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok


Forbidden fruits (it stinks!)


Dessert of bean curd, black jelly and dough things in ginger water


Vegetarian papaya salad (not all of them are vegetarian/vegan!)


Street food in Chiang Rai: veggie packages and mushrooms


The best mango shake


Bear of rice with vegetable and mushroom tempura


Matcha cookie and brownie of the vegan bakery Veganerie in Bangkok


Coconut-boiled banana dessert

World change starts here

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My time in Thailand was great. It was the first time I got out of Europe and into the tropics. I went there to reunite with my boyfriend, who’d been out in Asia for some time already. We travelled together for a month after which I settled in Bangkok for three weeks to work on a project related to sustainable food production.

Thailand is very different from what I’m used to in the Netherlands. Being there was a really valuable experience, to be able to explore the Thai culture. I think I learnt a lot, but it’s always hard to pinpoint such things, because change often occurs gradually.

It became clearer to me that in the end many things aren’t really important. Thai people generally have different lifestyles and standards than Dutch people, but does it matter? Only if we think it does. Things are only as important as we make them to be, which makes importance a matter of choice – and practice.

Most important to all of us, eventually, are matters of basic human needs including good health and ability to love, stretching out to human rights, equity and our environment. I choose to add animal rights to the list. I think we should strengthen our love to not only reach those people close to us but to also include people far away and other living beings.

There is no perfect way to live one’s life. My attempt to find the most utilitarian formula for how to spend my resources of time and energy for a better world led to no answer. There are many different ways in which we can contribute and there is no way to measure the total impact and this is fine.

What we can do is to start simply with ourselves. Take care of yourself first before helping others. Do what works for you and which doesn’t harm others. You don’t have to change everything at once, but each constructive act and each hint of positive energy can create positive change. The smallest things can spark a butterfly effect to take place which can eventually change the world.

I believe that one of the best things to do is to just be a nice and good human being in the presence of the people around you. Positive energy and good deeds will inspire the people who come in contact with it. This may not directly give big results, but I think it can lead to the most durable change there is.

So, be the good person you are and do what you think is important. Be open to people with their different backgrounds, cultures and ideas. This is one way of changing the world.

Thanks for reading! There is more to follow and questions can always be asked.🙂

Love is a river that fills everything

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„For me, love fills everything. It cannot be desired because it is an end in itself. It cannot betray because it has nothing to do with possession. It cannot be held prisoner because it is a river and will overflow its banks. Anyone who tries to imprison love will cut off the spring that feeds it, and the trapped water will grow stagnant and rank.“Athena in The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho