Joep moves mountains

Joep is nothing without the mountains. He has in fact been called a mountain mover because in addition to his work as a project coordinator for the local town council in Heerlen, he is also a board member of the Moving Mountains Foundation, which organises the Dutch Mountain Festival every year. As a real-life ‘mountain mover’, you could say his ambition was to make the DMFF network as extensive as possible.


Joep, when did your love affair with the mountains begin? Was it at an early age?

Yes, from an extremely early age! My parents first took me to the mountains was when I was just two months old. Up until the age of nineteen, I spent four to five weeks of every summer with my parents in the mountains. One year we saved up to go skiing for a week. Apart from that my parents would often venture into the Ardennes and the Eifel for canoeing, cycling, hiking and climbing adventures at places like Berdorf, Blens and along the River Maas in Belgium. It has given me so much enjoyment it’s impossible to do without the mountains.


What do you do in the mountains? Are you the typical tourist or are you the athletic type?

I’m not sure I’d know what a tourist was, so I suppose I must be the latter. But it’s not black and white: I like finding out about the region I’m staying in and taking photos, pretty much like everyone else I suppose, so we are all tourists.

You’re also an avid cyclist in the hills of South Limburg. What gives you a kick?

Taking an evening bike ride and enjoying the scenery, perhaps bumping into wildlife  or admiring a beautiful sunset. But I also enjoy the company of other cycling fanatics. Things can get quite crazy! And of course, I love cycling in the Alps and other faraway places.


Is your love for the hills also a reason for wanting to expand the DMFF network?

It doesn’t necessarily have to be large network, but instead a quality one, with likeminded people who treat the mountains and environment with respect: having fun, but also leaving something behind for your children … and their children.


What kind of things have you been doing to draw attention to the DMFF network?

We’re organising a kind of speed date locally to get together with people working in the same way as the DMFF, so that we can all gain something from each other and strengthen our links. Occasionally I’ll also meet up with potential partners for a coffee and discuss our different points of view. But actually, it works best to out cycling or walking together in the hills.


When will you have reached your goal?

The goal is part of the process, behind each goal lies a new possibility.

Highlining in Heerlen
I have heard that you cannot resist organising some parts of the DMFF yourself. Please tell us more …

Officially I am a member of the board which is responsible for overseeing the festival. However, our management is a bit unwieldy, but one which has met with success over the last ten years. As you get bigger however, you become more professional and words need to be converted into action. Sometimes things don’t go quite as planned, but this works best for our target group and that’s what it’s all about. I also help with grant applications, the Summit-to-Summit ride, I’ve helped organise the festival build-up and organised the highlining at Carbon 6 (high-rise office blocks) and at the Pancratiusplein in the centre of Heerlen. Basically, I help out wherever my services are appreciated.


Last question; what gives you more energy: moving mountains or moving in the mountains? You have to choose!

Moving in the mountains, of course … That recharges you so that you have more energy to move mountains back home. This can never be the other way around!!!