We have been working with and neighborhoods at the municipality since 2012. The area broker is the spider in the web. The link between the municipality and local residents and entrepreneurs. What are the commodities they stand for and what can you tackle them for? We ask Willemijn, area broker on the Burgwallen Oude Zijde Noord.
The area brokers are a verb in their neighborhood and answers: the intermediary for residents, entrepreneurs and other messages. They advise and when men are really not there, they offer help. This changes from a post that has to be moved due to a relocation of a dumpster that has to be turned over, to the complete renovation of a playground.
If there are questions about problems, the area broker ensures a connection between the neighborhood and the municipality and they try to place procedures. They stimulate, support and direct the neighbourhood, and bring the right people into contact with each other. They also signal opportunities and advantages. If something is not right, the area brokers pick it up.
What are the main ones in your area?
“The quality of life in the Red Light District is under great pressure. People live and work there, but there are also many tourists. And that sometimes hurts. How do you ensure that it remains liveable for residents and entrepreneurs?”
“I am there to make connections between the municipality and the neighborhood and also to support neighborhood initiatives. Around the Oudekerksplein, for example, there was a group of residents who wanted to make the square greener. According to budget. Last year the first facade gardens were laid out around the church and recently in the Sint Annenkwartier.
How would you describe the neighborhood?
“My neighborhood is of course unique in Amsterdam. Not just because of the sex workplaces. The architecture and atmosphere are very special. You feel the history when you walk down the street.”
“The neighborhood is a kind of village. Now that I have been working there for a while, I meet well-known residents of entrepreneurs on the street. There are Amsterdam residents who have lived there for 40 years and have seen it change from a junk neighborhood to what it is now. But also students and people in owner-occupied houses. Tourists often don’t even realize that: in addition to being a place to go out, it is also a place where many people live and live.”
What makes your job fun?
“It’s very social. I am often on the road in my area and regularly have appointments with residents, entrepreneurs of the street managers. Because of corona, that was of course a little less, so I’m glad we can meet more often now. During my work I meet all kinds of people. One moment I’m talking on the street with a resident, the next I’m sitting at the table with the director of a chic hotel or I’m having a meeting with a window operator.”
“As an area broker, I am the connection between them and the municipality for all those people. I try to help with ideas and plans, I put problems in the neighborhood on the agenda at the municipality, and we work from the neighbourhood.”
What makes it a challenge?
“There are quite a few complex problems in my area that are difficult to solve. Waste and clean, for example, is a colorful theme. I can’t solve that problem, although I sometimes manage to get something done on a small scale. In the Bethaniënstraat, for example, there was a mountain of waste on the sidewalk every week, and that definitively led to justified complaints from the neighbourhood. In consultation with the residents, we have moved the supply location to the other side of the street. That turned out to be a good solution, because there is no longer illegal dumping at this location.”
What can residents approach you for?
“As area brokers, we are there to support neighborhood initiatives that make the neighborhood more beautiful, liveable or greener. So if people have a great idea for the neighbourhood, a good plan to solve a problem, or want to actively contribute ideas, they can approach me. You can do this by e-mail or by telephone, and in odd weeks I hold a consultation hour in Op Number Nine on Thursday afternoons from 15:30 to 16:30.”
Contact Willemijn Oosterhof
Area broker Burgwallen Oude Zijde North
Phone number: 06 2274 3207
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