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Column Adriaan Mout | 'Da's goud'

19 September 2019

Cobouw adriaan mout 190919 das goud

Last week it was announced that the government decided to stop gas extraction in the northern Dutch province of Groningen as early as 2022. Just before that I was in Uithuizen, in North Groningen, to say goodbye to the technical director of the local housing corporation for which we have been working for years.

Uithuizen, or Oethoezen (pronounced ‘Oothoozen’) as locals pronounce it, lies in the far north of the Netherlands. You can hardly go further, as we discovered when we first drove there 15 years ago. And there is another mentality: few words, but words that matter and on which you can count on. After our plan explanation, it was often quiet for a moment, after which our client answered "Da’s goud" (‘That’s alright’). "Good" in North Groningen dialect ... what a great client! For this you loved to drive two and a half hours. At that time we could not have imagined that this area would later be put on the Dutch map in a less pleasant way. Ten years after completion, our new building suffered nearly a million euros in earthquake damage, caused by gas extraction in the province of Groningen. Our cooperation with the corporation has not been affected by this and our most current project there will be completely earthquake resistant.

North Groningen, an area with friendly people of few words. But also with ‘earthquake stress’ and bitterness about the attitude of ‘the West’, how the locals call the political and economic hart in the west of the country. And with a youth that is moving away from the rural centers, because of a lack of employment and future perspectives. It has become a shrinking area. Our activities in the North have been extended to the capital of Groningen with inner-city area development. The city of Groningen is now largely outside the danger zones of the earthquakes and the pressure on the housing market of this student city is as usual very high. Here, there are only thirty kilometers between growth and shrinkage, between hope and fear.

Thousands of reports of earthquake damage are still awaiting inspection, as Cobouw also reported last week. Let us deal with it quickly and leniently, these people deserve this. Oethoezen, da’s goud.

September 2019,