Influencer Juan-Carlos Goilo

Interview March 2021

Could you share with us some information of your family life?
I am 37 years old. I am married and a father of 2 children, one of 4 and one of 1 year old. I have a brother and sister and I was born in Curaçao. My parents played a great role in who I am today, like I believe all parents should do. I left the island to study in Holland when I was 18 years old. My wife works at CMC and we are trying to adjust into the organism called Curaçao with our two children. If we manage, we will stay here.

You are a multi-facetted person as you work at Gemeente Amsterdam and you are an artist, information specialist, writer, performer and an advocate of the dougnut economy if we are correct? Can you expand a little bit on this and share something of your eductional background and your experiences?
I have always been a very active person, doing lots of things at the same time. In terms of institutional learning, I have studied Business Information and Technology at the Amsterdam University of Applied Science. When I graduated, I was bored to death and decided to study Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. My greatest fascination is the relation humans have with technology. Here I mean technology in a broader sense of the word. Writing and language are also forms of technology. I have been blessed with the opportunity to engage with the practice of writing for audiovisual stories, poetry and theater.

I am now working on a PhD at the University of Amsterdam and the relationship between humans and technology is at the core of my thesis. I wanted to work on two case studies, one for the municipality of Amsterdam in Amsterdam and the other a case study in Curaçao. I have worked for over 8 years at the Municipality of Amsterdam and I have always been involved in innovation in one way or the other. I like to believe that I can see changes take place every single day, every single minute and every single second. I don’t know where this comes from, it is at times like a déjà vu.

Do you meditate?
I don’t know if I meditate. I take my time to breathe, see and listen closely as the world unfolds around me.

You have been involved in the Doughnut economy initiatives in Curaçao with Joeri Oltheten, that btw referred us to you, could you expand a little on this?
I have been involved in the development of the circular economy model of Amsterdam, more specifically the information needed in order to develop the principles of the model further. As I was looking for two case studies to work on, as part of my PhD, I choose to work on the same model in Curaçao. A serendipitous moment took place when Joeri raised the question on Facebook: could Curaçao apply the doughnut economy the same way Amsterdam did? He was unknowing of the fact that a Curaçaoan was working on it in Amsterdam. So I approached him together with the Ministry of Economic Development of Curaçao to help develop a ministerial creed. He has set up a Doughnut Economy Taskforce. Soon this first document will be approved by the Council of Ministers and we will take it from there. This has been the process up till now. In Curaçao, we are trying to work on the mindset itself, which is at the heart of the model of doughnut economics. Working with change and looking at how people perceive change, the world and how inclusiveness is dealt with. We have gathered lots of information on initiatives that fit into the model.

You seem to be very good at that observing, right?
Well I don’t know, I am just listening to the “rhytms” and ultimately what counts is taking actions where I believe I can make a positive contribution to the whole. My actions are the only thing I know for sure. If my intuition feels that the course of our direction is right, I will stay on that course and hope that the actions will have a positive impact and lead to more connections between the different initiatives. We have a lot of potential in Curaçao and I am convinced that it is not a lack of abilities to bring about the required changes. Important is, the relationships between one of the most important institutions on the island, the government. How do they see themselves and perceive what they suppose to do, and how do they relate to the different initiatives. What is a good life? We, importing too much of a certain version of the American dream in the local context? There are a lot of people representing this American dream and way of life on the island.

 At the same time, I see a lot of people with lots of potential that are eager to develop themselves. And these are key elements of a developed country. The island will improve immensely if everyone is curious and eager to learn and improve oneself and each other. So if we re-shift the focus away from the American dream towards a collective intelligence, we will ultimately see Curaçao flourish into capacities yet unforeseen. We need to be able to write our own history. This has to play a more prominent role and has to be emphasized more. Change needs to include also government and we need to connect with one another and this organisms is not functioning optimally at this moment.
We need to find out what the obstacles are and find a way to address them. We need to move beyond the frustration level as this is wasted energy, and literally generates toxins in our bodies. I thought people in The Netherlands led the bad habit of nagging, but Curaçao seems to be in a neck and neck. We need to stop with the romantization of ‘one winner that takes all’ and move to ‘the many winners that multiply.’ 

Did you read the book Breaking Ranks of Steven Countinho? He talks about our mindsets and states that it is colonialism that has created in former colonies a dysfunctional mindset not slavery itself.
I would agree with him. I know Steven, we talked to each other and explored the possibility of applying the Doughnut Economy initiative in Surinam.

You seem to be a very intuitive person?
Yes, its true. I try to at least. The flow state is very important to me. Words are one of the ways for me to express it.

Where does it comes from?
I have no clue. I only have the best intentions. Maybe the flow state comes from my left toe??? I strongly believe that every single person is an artist. And our goal in life is to discover which art form is our super power. For me it has been words.

Are you familiar with the writings/books of Yuval Noah Harari and Rutger Bregman?
Yes I am, I don’t always agree with them, but I like their ideas. I once applied to collaborate with Rutger Bregman at “De Correspondent” to write articles about the future of the Rennaissance man. Rutger is an erudite, intelligent and sympathetic thinker. But their reaction was to suggest to me to write articles on black culture and I didn’t want to be pushed into “the migrant category.” So in the end I backed out.

You seem to very found of your children, why are you so found of them?
They are a source of so many things of beauty. It is such a super masterfull experience to observe them and learn from them and getting to know myself better. They fascinate me, as I see how they explore and make mistakes and learn from their mistakes and just keep going with their explorations in their own world. They don’t want to deliberately hurt other people, just observe them and you know how people are suppose to behave and how society should allow people to make mistakes. It is just fascinating and it makes me realize that I basically don’t know anything.

Are you using what you studied for originally that is Business Information and Technology?
During the times I graduated, it was after 9/11. Those times the Bush-administration, Reagonomics and Margareth Thatcher were not scrutinized for their role in the destabilization of societal institutions. Joeri Oltheten and I grew up in these times. As a teens it was far easier for us to rebel and see that what they were doing didn’t work than the grown-ups that were earning a living in these times.

You are also involved in VANTA, can you share with us something about VANTA?
Vanta has stopped as some members, including me, became parents and I came to Curaçao. We are still good friends. I am currently collaborating with Vernon on another project but the group VANTA itself stopped for the moment.

What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be whom you are right now?
Life is too short and that is why we have to dedicate our time in things that help us and helps the world to enable the development of people, animals and nature as a whole. I don’t know what everyone is doing in this world, but if I am lucky I would still be alive 50 years from now. It would be a tragedy, if I would look back and realise that I have not been contributing to the world.

Are you a curious person?
Yes, I am an extremely curious person. By being like that, I can grasp the essence of life.

When do you consider that you have been successful in your personal and business/professional life, let us say 5 years from now?
Let’s see 5 years from now, I would be observing change, the roots of positive change would have shown themselves not a the level where it is supposed to be yet, but the roots would be strong enough to withstand a hurricane. Furthermore, my kids would be going to school and doing good.

What are the challenges that you are dealing with? And how are you dealing with these different challenges you confront?
I am a very associative person, I absorb lots of information quickly and I have an idea how to deal with that, while at the same trying to protect myself from a overdosis. I constantly pace myself. I pace contacts with people and my activities. It is an ongoing thing, as I keep getting my information triggers like the ebb and flow of the sea. My biggest challenge would be related to my children, not being able to share the information that I could potentially give them. I want them to realise their full potential, without me overloading them with information that does not contribute to their well-being. This is my biggest challenge. Or that they might misinterpret my intentions, that always is a difficult issue in relation to information. In general I sincerely belief that systemic changes is hard and difficult to make in societies. In the kids of my children it is already hard. The challenge is, how to bring about changes that are much bigger then yourself. It is a fascination for me, but also a BIG challenge.

Do you use your inner voice to evaluate when dilemma’s show up? How does that work for you?
Yes, I would say “how don’t you use your inner voice”. When I use the word I, I do not really mean me. “I” is the inner voice that experiences the world through the eyes of my body. Descartes said: “I think therefore I am”. But Nietzsche was much more interesting. “It thinks, and we are in the it”. Descartes was arrogant. The moment you say “I think” you are already thinking and you can’t stop thinking. You never chose to think. I am just materializing my “Inner voice” and share this in the simplest way with the world. I hope people will listen to it and hope I will not fall into negativity within myself.

How are you trying also to keep up with your personal knowledge and skills levels? Hmm…well just look up things that I can read.

Or better said, go back into myself and breathe, listen and see what is happening around me. Everything that help me stay in the present moment. For example look at trees and leaves from a tree and look at the paterns of the leaves as they are.

What are your strengths?
I am very good at being comtemplative and I am confident that it always works.
I can discern patterns easily in a lot of things and also cross patterns between systems and can see the bridges, links between them.
I am happy with the kind of father I am curious to to see how it worked out with my children.

Do you have hobbies or interests that you are also passionate about?
I am a multi-facetted person. I am intrinsically practicing art and I have chosen a research topic that I am passionate about and that is also my work.

If you as Juan-Carlos would meet a stranger in the bus (let say in Mexico or the US) and they would ask you to introduce yourself what would you answer?
My name is Juan-Carlos. 

How would you describe Juan Carlos in one word or one sentence?

Whom are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career?
A person that has been my mentor for quite some time and still is, is Felix de Rooy. Also my parents and some of my peers and friends.

What is a trait that is still work in progress?
A lot of things, I guess i would like to stop being so vague all the time. And connect on a deeper level. At times I can appear a little vague when I meet people. They don’t understand where I am coming from. Furthermore I don’t understand the concept of time very well. I will do my utmost to be somewhere on time, but still I am always perplexed by our obsession with it. I need to be faster to be on time or the world has to pace itself.

I want to be more in my body. Now I am not doing enough workouts for my liking. I would love to hike in nature more than I already do and challenge myself in a specific sport again. But having two kids requires dedication, especially in the young years of their life. Also, for my PhD, I spend a lot of time reading and writing. As I reach a finish , I will slowly but surely move more again.

What was a defining moment in your life?
The birth of my first son, becoming a father.

Where do you want to be 15 to 20 years from now with your career?
Well that is far away…. I would be artistically directing a Dutch Caribbean Arts Academy (starting with the literary arts), that would be awesome. Also that my children would have found their passion and that they would be beaming forward and inspiring others at the speed of life.

What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends and others to say about you let’s say 20 years from now?
That they are happy that I am still alive.

What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçao as we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, recession and in the middle of growing environmental challenges because of the global warming consquences?
The people living in Curaçao are not disabilitated in terms of their abilities and capacities. The problem is in the organism where we live in and they way we perceive ourselves and project ourselves internally in that organism. People perform different forms of pathology and have to awake from them. This starts by realising their participation in the production of societal toxins. People can love material things like their car, their clothes. But basically it is a reflection of a bigger picture that is too negative and unsustainable. Changing the system means changing the organism. We need to start collaborating. Sometimes this requires us shutting up and listening more. Observe more. We do have a contemplative philosophy on the island, which can make it easier to be more reflexive and adaptive than the present moment. I would call it the “bou di palu” philosophy ( = underneath the tree philosophy) . There is so much power in it. Our tradition of playing domino together emerged out of this “bou di palu” philosophy, we have haircuts and conversations during these “bou di palu” moments. The best Doughnut Economy session we have had up to now, was at Hòfi Moringa. And guess what: it was “bou di palu”. Furthermore don’t underestimate the power of reflection in the afternoon as the sunset, when we reflect, think back, reflect and work together.

One of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao
Juan-Carlos Goilo is a multi-facetted father, artist, information specialist, writer, performer, scholar and an advocate of the doughnut economy. As an extremely curious person Juan-Carlos basically has to pace the amount of contacts and activities that he is involved in. Being in the moment and living through his inner guidance comes naturally for him as he is very good at being a contemplative and associative person. He absorbs lots of information quickly and is able to discern patterns easily in a lot of things and also cross patterns between systems and can see the bridges, links between them. Juan Carlos is passionate about relationships between people and the things that people make, “Technology in the broader sense of the word”, which includes writing also as a form of technology. He expresses himself in different forms through short videos, poetry and theater. As an “observer” he is of the opinion that we don’t have a problem with the people living in Curaçao in terms of their abilities and capacities, the problem is in the organism where they live in and they way we perceive ourselves and project ourselves internally in that organism. Working on a Doughnut Economy model in Curaçao, he is helping to create change. By changing the system, the organism and promoting collaboration, we can achieve so much more. Because of all this, we are convinced that through his different roles, Juan Carlos is enabling the development of people in Curaçao. That is why we dearly love and deeply respect Juan Carlos Goilo and consider him part of the 250 Influencers of the island representing the Sustainable Economy and Arts sector.

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