Willemijn de Iongh
(Lead Knowledge & Learning)

“A lot has happened within the organisation over the past year. Just name anything that is important for any organisation and we’ve been working on it: Mission & vision, Strategy, our organisational set-up to serve that new mission, HR models & procedures, and our Working Culture.

That has been a great journey which we all learned a lot from, but also challenging as you are “renewing the plane while flying” and need to introduce new habits in an old habit working environment.” It’s been great to experience the natural process that a young organisation has to go through. Starting with the early adopters that have a clear vision and idea to bring into the world which – at the time – was quite radical in its shift from short-term & project-based to long- term and holistic thinking, the 4 returns approach. Then turning 5 years old, in a world that is more open to the concept of landscape restoration and bringing in a new set of colleagues, with a fresh pair of eyes, that can help lift us to even higher altitudes.

Culture days:

The late business management guru Peter Drucker once said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” and I believe this to be true. A good strategy is only as good as the work culture underpinning it. It is therefore important that we continue to establish a healthy and safe working environment within which we can all thrive, hold each other accountable and help deliver on our promise.

The Culture Days were one of the first times we spent that much time together focusing on building the Commonland team. Cementing  the first building blocks of creating a common sense of purpose, connectedness and a clear way of working.

Culture is not something you can frame and put on the wall and that’s that. Culture is a living thing that changes shape in accordance with individual and collective behavior. The Culture Days were a fantastic start of a longer process to create this culture together.

What makes Commonland the place you want to work?

The holistic nature of the work is something I am deeply passionate about. Also, enabling and supporting professionals and communities in the landscape gives me joy. They are on the frontlines of turning around dominant forms of land use and dissolving community infrastructures toward healthy ecosystems and thriving communities.

That is not a quick-fix project. That, there, is non-linear systems change and requires persistence and patience. I love working for Commonland because we can provide that safe space for on-the-ground professionals to do what they do best.

Even though we need to navigate these tough times, I am confident this group of Commonlanders is ready to deliver strong and much needed work for future generations: creating a viable alternative future for healthy landscapes and communities. We must and we will deliver on that promise.”

Tessa Snaterse (Donor Relations)

What has happened within the organisation Commonland over the past year?

So much has happened the past year at Commonland! I joined   the team in January of 2019 and experienced how we redefined our organisation’s strategy. This led to more long-term funding secured and the ability to grow the team and activities. With that growth, it became clear that dedicating time and energy to us as a team is very important. I believe we are getting in excellent shape to start working towards achieving our mission: turning the world’s degraded landscapes into thriving ecosystems, economies and communities.

What did you think about the culture days?

Taking time as a team to get to know each other better, to reconnect and talk about our common purpose has been so valuable. I’ve witnessed the growth process we embarked on as a team, leading to more fun and better alignment. It’s important to realize this is not something to organize once a year, but regularly and with different topics, for example we recently learned and discussed how to give and receive feedback. We’ve also incorporated culture activities in our international annual team week (‘Learning Fest’) which is organized together with the international landscape teams. In 2019, our partners – COmON Foundation, the Dutch Postcode Lottery, IKEA Foundation and the Dutch Red Cross Princess Margriet Fund – were also present.

Growing together as a network has been a positive learning experience for which I’m very grateful.

Why are you working for Commonland? What makes Commonland the place you want to work?

I’m working for Commonland because I deeply believe in the new system we are contributing to. We’ve been in the old system (of ‘take-make-waste’) for long enough now and need to reconsider our relationship with the planet, each other and ourselves. I think the 4 Returns are not limited to landscapes but can be applied in other fields or sectors. It helps create regenerative economies that focus on more than just short-term financial gain. At Commonland I find myself surrounded by a team of like-minded, enthusiastic people, which makes it an exciting place to work.”