A retrospection on a gathering of organizations in Amsterdam

Is there such thing as friendship between organizations? Or isn’t the interaction in business context more about cooperation, networking – or even competition and rivalry? These are not the only factors. Organizations are also able to cultivate deeper relations that are based on trust, sympathy and revelation.

Castrum Peregrini and SYNNECTA intensively engaged in this thesis on October 9th and 10th 2013 in Amsterdam. Looking at both organizations’ histories, this adventure may not be that surprising any more.

Castrum Perigrini, today speaking of themselves as »Intellectual Playground«, primarily arose out of a group of German exiles in time of National Socialism that used to give young people a chance to submerge and escape from prosecution. In Gisèle van Waterschoot van der Gracht’s home, the »Herengracht« in Amsterdam, they found more than a sanctuary: They also had the chance to pass the time of isolation with conversations about art, culture and literature. Over this they created a firm alliance of intellectual unity – and deep friendship. The former league in the hermetic tradition of the »George-circles« in third Generation put a radical opening to the outside world into practice – and thus translated the original values in a new concept. As a cultural foundation, as a free space, as a network of artists. How can friendship go on in this new concept? Maybe it is exactly this freedom and openness that make intellectual plays possible. And it is the traditions of gathering and talking during shared dinners.

The latter traditions were an essential part of the gathering with SYNNECTA that, as Castrum Peregrini, has always been cultivating not only business relationships, but also friendships. It is one thing that lies in the nature of daily business – since it is mostly about people and their social systems. But it is also because of a deep conviction and passion – without any demand. Mentioned as an example may be the yearly Sophia Workshop that is about exchange and reflection – in contrast to business-orientated networking.

Besides Castrum Peregrini and the participating organizations, representatives of other cultural institutions were the third pillar. Central themes in the conversations were of course friendship and strongly connected values like authenticity – and how to preserve them in times of change.

Friendship is a context that not only supports changes – of individuals as of systems – but also forms them actively. The questions »Where do we come from?« and »What will future bring for us?« play an equally important role in this deep relation as in organizations that need to handle and to organize changes. By answering these questions we can verify the relevance of persisting values. We can mirror and adjust behavior. We can create visions and goals. And who could be on our sides in this process – if not a friend?