ILCO VAN DER LINDE *Founder MasterPeace*
Ilco van der Linde is founder of an impressive series of successful peace projects: he started Bevrijdingspop in 1980, the Bevrijdingsfestivals, the Liberation Day National Classical Concert in 1995, Dance4Life in 2002, and MasterPeace in 2009. Last December, MasterPeace received the U.N. Certificate of Recognition for Innovation in Peace-building from UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon.
On 14 March 2014, a dedicated MasterPeace hotelroom opens in Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy.
Your projects are usually on a large-scale, reaching thousand of people.
What made you choose to cooperate with Lloyd Hotel, which is a one-off hotel in creating a MasterPeace hotelroom?
It was the other way round. When I had just started MasterPeace I held my first speech about the project at the HotelloTop in January 2010, under the title ‘Co-creation and Peace’. At the end of the speech I said ‘You don’t have to applaud, just give me your business card’. General Manager Piet Boogert of Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy came up to me and said he was strongly in favour of co-creation and wanted to support the initiative. This led to us using the hotel as a hub for our meetings, and now to the co-creation of a MasterPeace hotelroom. To me it is more than a hotel; it is also a thriving cultural centre where design, art and books are all around and people are invited to show their work.
The overwhelming theme of your projects is peace, with the fight against HIV/AIDS in a strong second place.
Can you see other themes popping up in the future or do you think peace will be your major passion always?
Peacebuilding has been my major theme for 35 years now and I feel that it is my role to work for peace. It makes me feel I am close to the essence: giving is the essence of living. The goal of MasterPeace is to connect people who are on opposite sides of life and to prevent armed conflict on a global scale. We strive to involve 400,000 people by 2020, working in 400 communities worldwide. This requires 200% of my energy. People are really generous; they won’t start a campaign of their own but they are eager to join. It gives a lot of energy to work for peace.
Where did you first find your inspiration?
I took my father as an example to follow. He was a young adult during the war that joined the Dutch resistance. When I was about 15 he asked me ‘What are you going to do for peace?’. I decided to organise a pop-concert at 5 May, Liberation Day when we celebrate the end of World War II. The first Bevrijdingspop (‘Liberation Pop’), was held in 1980. I was then asked by the National Committee for 4 and 5 May to organise a cultural & human rights project with 13 Bevrijdingsfestivals. This now attracts a million people. From 1995 to 2001 I also designed and produced the yearly 5th May National Classical Concert at the Amstel, which was broadcasted on national television and attended by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix.
The theme of Dance4Life, which I cofounded in 2002, is connected to that of peace building. Dance4Life is about pushing back HIV/AIDS and currently has projects in 30 countries. It is about breaking the silence about a taboo subject, giving hope, respect, and opportunities to young people to develop their own lives.
It is amazing how young people are still treated as sponges that just absorb what the older generations are prepared to give. We should be far keener to involve the young generation in the peace project, giving them seed money to develop their own projects. Give some wind beneath their wings. If you tap into their energy, they are eager to co-create their own future. MasterPeace connects them to the local-version of Bono and work on their own peaceful future.
The connecting medium in all your projects is music. What is it that makes music such a powerful medium?
I experienced that music is the most powerful instrument to make heart connections. Especially when working with young people. Most educational projects focus on the head, which is loaded with information, including the way you have been programmed by your background and social environment. Hardly anyone is aware that most decisions are made in your heart. Hearts are like parachutes, they only work when they’re open. Music can open your heart, it can fuel dialogue.
Photography is a big private passion.
Can you tell what you aim to express in your pictures?
Especially on my journeys, like when I travelled through Africa with my family, I loved to make portraits of people. I try to capture the unique strength of people. I am curious to learn from everyone, what is her or his special gift and his or her dream or talent. If you concentrate you can almost feel it, this uniqueness of every person. My portraiture comes close to what MasterPeace does: celebrate diversity. In many cultures diversity is a cause of fear. But I think: the more diversity the better, the more exciting.