A concept and vision which first appeared on my horizon at the beginning of September. A dream graphic designer, Simone Branson, has nurtured since her late teens. The product of a British father and Dutch mother Simone grew up in The Hague, bi-lingual, with one foot in the international community, the other firmly entrenched in the Dutch.
On a visit to Italy in her late teens visiting her father who was working on a short assignment in Florence, she sat in the cafes and read the local English paper put together by the international community. A vibrant publication which got below the surface of Firenze setting a tone which made Simone feel connected with the culture and city around her.
The impact and impression of the paper stayed with her over the years, waiting patiently at the back of her mind as a dream she would fulfill – one day. This summer she decided now was the time. Why now?
From conversations I’ve had with Simone it is evident she adored and loved her parents, and loves her sister Kelly. Sadly their father died some years ago and last year the sisters lost their mother. Being mature, wise and incredibly perceptive I believe this was the catalyst for bringing her dream from the shadows into the light of day.
Simone decided to call her embryo publication The Underground. To my westernised ears this rang leftist, subversive bells (on telling one girlfriend she looked horrified and announced ‘you’ll never get a job with the CIA with that on your resume!’).
When Simone explained her reasoning there could be no other title.
Simone’s mother’s maiden name was Hedy Mol, ‘mol’ being the Dutch for ‘mole’. The concept of the paper is to dig below the surface of the wonderful city of The Hague, bringing information to the surface on its culture, history, art, design, past residents and present dynamic individuals who call The Hague home. The paper is aimed at the English speaking international community, including the Dutch.
Although Simone has lived in The Hague all her life she is international in attitude and as open-minded as any expat living here on a three-year assignment. She has a passion to share her city with anyone who is interested. And there are many of us.
Any sane person would have taken at least six months to put this all together. Simone will have done it in two. To see someone grab their dream and ride that glorious wave of self-belief and absolute focus which froths at its pinnacle with doubt and fear is impossible to ignore. Who wouldn’t want to surf that wave, support someone so determined?
All of us have a point in our lives when we need cheerleaders, a fan club to tell us we can do it, whether it’s surviving a disaster, fulfilling a dream or fighting disease and addiction. Simone is not someone who is brash, over-confident or unrealistic. She is unassuming, warm and engaging. She is someone who has a dream and is determined to make it happen, now.
After talking with friends and business contacts Simone got in touch with Jo Parfitt, writer and mentor, to get connected with local writers. Which is how I got on board, along with some very talented people who saw that Simone’s dream was viable, with the potential to enrich and connect the international community with each other and the city.
My thought was to contribute solely through writing. Somehow I’ve ended up a co editor along with the redoubtable Reina van Nieuwkerk-Racz joined by a great team of writers including the very talented Linda A. Janssen, Andrea Paterson, Carolyn Vines, Eowyn Crisfield, Karen T. Slingenberg, Carrie Sanderson, Kathy Voyles to name but a few, along with resident poet Sareen McClay.
Everyday new writers are making contact, wanting to get involved and we’re thrilled so many people have faith and belief in this project. Today we saw the first pre-proof copy, the tangible results of what has taken so much time and energy these past two months. It’s good.
Next week the printers and in 13 days it will be distributed in The Hague, watch out for your copy!
Interested in writing for The Underground? Guidelines at www.theunderground.nl