What a waste plastic boat teaches us about trust
These little ships we build, they have a soul. The third workboat ‘Karperkuil’ is not an exception. It launched just before Christmas. This is what we have learned from this special ship.
“Karperkuil, I wish you… whoopsy daisy.. I baptize your crew, no you! I baptize you and wish your crew a safe voyage!” Volunteer Carmen and colleague Audrey splash a bucket of ice cold water against the 17th century workboat. And slowly, over a frozen, slippery slope, the Karperkuil slides into the lake.
Our third workboat made of waste plastic has launched… And just like its predecessors, the Karperkuil is not just any workboat. It is a boat with a soul. It brought together a hodgepodge of people who would probably never have met otherwise, and brings great personal growth to most.
If only these boats could talk… Each of our workboats comes with a message, with learnings. And since this little boat had a deadline (Christmas) we call it the ‘Christmas boat message’. (But feel free to take it as a New Year’s message.)
Musing in the dark
What do you do at the end of the year? You evaluate the past year. Clean2Anywhere is no exception. What has the Karperkuil taught us? Are we still on track or do we need a tug at the helm to keep a course? While musing, next to a extinguished stove on a twilight wharf, we take stock a week before the launch – and Christmas.
The Karperkuil is the second workboat built by a group of young people and status holders who joined us via our partner Werksaam Westfriesland. The first boat (the Schelphoek) was an experiment. (Like everything we do here.) We did not have an approach, method or fixed plan. We knew what we did NOT want to do with these youngsters: sitting and talking about how we were going to do things differently. So we just went to work together, and what had to arise, would arise.
This ‘approach’ (if you want to call it that) turns out not to be a coincidence, but a law: this is an important lesson from the Karperkuil. And this empowers us to continue.
Our Christmas message: have a little faith in people!
While musing in the dark, we write down our Christmas message. With a flashlight we light up our sheet of paper and untangle the keywords. Trust, humanity, learning… Our Christmas message is: you can and máy have faith in people.
It’s about learning with and from each other. These young people learn from us that there is so much more you can do with waste plastic. That you can build a boat out of it, and how. We learn from them that people are so much more capable than you often think.
But everything that is pure, beautiful and desirable does not just fall from heaven. If you do your best to offer people a safe environment, if you show a human, caring and grateful attitude, they will definitely return this to you. These young people receive something here, so that they themselves are able to give back. Not only to us, but also to society.
Working without pressure or coercion
It is simply a matter of taking the pressure off the kettle. That people can just be who they are, even when it’s not going well. For many people here, who for whatever reason have been on the sidelines of the labor market, this is new.
Just like for Carmen. “If I couldn’t come to the workshop because I wasn’t feeling well, I wouldn’t be blamed. Even if that happened more than once. That feels safe, without pressure or coercion. I have not felt this in previous workplaces. That this is possible somewhere, well… I actually still have to get used to that a bit”, she says in a soft voice.
Helping each other comes naturally
But they themselves are just as well responsible for creating this safe environment! We see young people – some of whom we really had to take by the hand upon arrival – experiencing great personal growth. Who now take other newbies under their wings and say: ‘you are ok, just the way you are’. Formerly timid people, who now enthusiastically show visitors around at the yard.
Helping each other is the most natural thing in the world. Volunteer José: “If someone doesn’t know how to use certain tools, you explain that to each other. That happens very naturally, in a pleasant way. There is togetherness.” At the same time, in this environment he has learned to work more independently. “I ask a lot of questions, but that is not always necessary. If I concentrate on my work and comply with the technical drawings, I usually manage it myself. Here I learned to trust myself more.”
“You can pick yourself up at any time”
That safety, that trust, we do that together. Volunteer Audrey is a good example of this. In recent months, she discovered that she wants to study social work. The idea is that she will also be given a role in guiding young people at the workshop. This absence of pressure gave her the space to make her own discoveries and make future plans again.
Audrey’s Christmas message is therefore: “You can pick yourself up at any time. Both on a work and personal level, as well as in sustainable habits. You don’t have to wait for a specific moment or have good intentions for the new year: you can take steps at any time to pick up your life or good habits. Look at the things that are already there and build on them. Even if you feel like you’ve “got it all wrong again,” pick yourself up and start over. It doesn’t have to be perfect, as long as you get moving again.”
How do we create a snowball effect in 2022?
What we do here is born out of conviction and love for those who need it. And it works! A confirmation for us to maintain this course in 2022. Together we develop the building blocks for a circular and more inclusive society. ‘Trust’ and ‘humanity’ are crucial ingredients in this and of great value to all businesses. Now we have to figure out how to make these building blocks transferable, so that we can increase the impact of these little ships. Best wishes everyone!