I just live here nice and quietly. It’s a good neighbourhood.
That’s what an old lady on the streets told us. And the five people we spoke to after that. Before we entered the neighbourhood, we heard and read that there were many problems: poverty, lonely elderly, vandalism. We were full of ideas about events we could organise or projects we could set up. But at The Beach, they learned us that behind every idea, there are presumptions about problems and the way they could be solved.
In the first weeks of the Europe by People off campus programme, we mainly talked. To people on the streets, men from the Turkish mosque, children on the playgrounds, an ex-refugee, and artist who’s called Papa Sahko (because he’s like a father to his surrounding) and elderly who were walking to the shops. We asked them about their connection to the neighbourhood, the things they liked about living in Wildemanbuurt and what they would like to improve.
Analysing & categorising
And that soon let us reconsider our view of the neighbourhood and our ideas. Because if people tell us they’re happy here, they have nice contacts with the neighbours and they feel safe, who are we to question that? So we threw our ideas in the bin, took ten steps back and started working from the information we gathered. For example that children are the connectors in the neighbourhood: parents meet and cooperate because their children play together. That there is a lot of garbage out on the streets. That small children would like more soccer fields because now the big kids claim all of them. And that many people don’t know about neighbourhood centers like the Lucas Community.
So now it’s time for the next step in our process: after collecting, analysing and categorising all the information we gathered (step 2), we can now start thinking about ideas that fit those stories (step 3). What will come from that? We’ll keep you posted.