Hellie, setting initiatives for refugees in motion

Changing the world for the better is a complicated and incremental process. But it is a lot of fun to do, according to Hellie van Hout.

Hellie is employed at Publieke Versnellers (Public Accelerators), a small corporation located in Amsterdam. She works there with three other people, that each try to find sustainable solutions for social issues in their own, individual manner. ‘’We are just four people with a drive to make the world a little bit better, nicer and more beautiful.’’

‘’Accelerating’’ regards bringing processes and organizations that are not running smoothly or are even completely stuck, back onto track. As a process consultant, Hellie accelerates social initiatives, brings energy back into organizations and gives people a nudge in the right direction. ‘’Make sure that all involved are one room and start cooperatively working on sustainable solutions. This means that you need to include all the stakeholders that you can think of. Do not try to impose any preconceived ideas on the group. Furthermore, accelerating is all about concrete action, directly taking the next steps and committing to follow-ups.’’

For Hellie, accelerating seems to be more of a vocation than merely a job. During the conversation she is analysing questions and answers, deconstructing statements and identifying the core problems of the issues discussed. She is sharp and enthusiastic, has an eye for details, but at the same time, reflects upon broader social developments.

‘’Accelerating can and should be fun to do. Accelerating is creating energy, making changes and working together on innovation. Furthermore, if you return home feeling good, it is far more likely that you are willing to remain engaged with an issue.”

“If it is fun, it simply has more impact.’’

‘’Nevertheless, it is not a coincidence that all my projects have a public or social dimension. I have to feel a connection with an issue if I am going to address it in a motivated manner. There has to be an aspect to it that constitutes a contribution to society, even if it is just a small step.’’

Both through Platform de Haagse Huiskamer and through other organizations, Hellie is engaged with issues of integration and inclusivity. ‘’I do worry about the hardening of attitudes and the increase of us-versus-them narratives. You experience that in your daily routine. There is growing cynicism, which just is an easy attitude relieving you from any and every responsibility. Considering the well-being of others appears to be increasingly unpopular.’’

‘’However, there also seems to be a growing, counteracting force. Within the arts I see increasing societal engagement; artists holding up a mirror to the world. This is also, I think, reflected in how today’s students view the world. More and more students are not only focussed on making money, but also bring about their ideals in practice. That is an encouraging thought, and I do try to remain optimistic.’’

Hellie was the facilitator at different acceleration sessions of the Haagse Huiskamer.