Nieuw Crooswijk, the roses are beautiful, the history not so.
Nieuw Crooswijk, once a vibrant community , now a soulless suburban neighborhood located in the north eastern area of Rotterdam between the districts Noord and Kralingen. We live here happily, with an amazing view of the Rotterdam skyline, just a few minutes from the Kralingse Plas, within walking distance from downtown Rotterdam, and just ten minutes with the bike to Rotterdam Centraal (train station). I have no complaints about our living situation, but I have thoughts about the neighborhood we live in and how it came to be. We love Rotterdam, but it’s politics are ugly.
We love Rotterdam, but it’s politics are ugly.
Moving here we had no idea what Crooswijk, old or new was because we knew next to nothing about Rotterdam. We needed a place to rent, and we needed it quickly. I made it a full time job to search for a new place, and it was a lot of work and it cost a small fortune just to make the arrangements for viewings. We had to travel across the country for each viewing, print a ton of documents, a lot of back and forth with emails so we could get time-slots to look at homes with ten other interested renters. Serendipity, and help from family got us into this apartment. We’re privileged because we had access to money that helped us with our home search. Without money the system spits you out, and opportunities fade away.
Without money the system spits you out, and opportunities fade away.
Wanting to know about the neighborhood we were moving to it didn’t take long to discover that our building was standing where a community once was. The people of this community were forced out of their homes, and most were unable to return. Gentrification –it’s not about fixing up old run down buildings and cleaning things up for the benefit of the entire city. It’s about pushing low income people out of their homes, and destroying communities so investors can make even more money then they already do. Do old buildings need to be fixed-up, and sometimes demolished? Yes, but why in all of that do the residents have to be pushed out of their homes? Yes, it cost money to rebuild, refurbish but don’t all people deserve good homes? Why is it unheard of that we fix the living situations for people with a lower income? Side note; the Dutch Constitution states that all citizens have the right to sufficient living accommodations, that are of quality, safe, and affordable. So even if one has an opinion about the subject, we only have to point to the Dutch Constitution. Adequate housing is a human right.
Nieuw Crooswijk is known for Bakfietsen (Cargo bikes), and hip cafes but I’ve lived here for three years, and there is literally only one café to get a cheeky coffee, and it’s the only place (Croos) around here that tries to bring people together. The cargo bikes are few and far between. So if that was a goal they’ve failed From my point of view they’ve only succeeded at two things: ripping the soul out of a community and making a shit load of money. Nobody greets you, the playgrounds are for the most part empty and you only see people in commute.
These were taken next to café Croos.
I wish I was better at writing, there are so many important things to write about. We can say ‘we don’t do politics’ but that is one of the most politically charged statements I’ve ever heard. It says to me you are not directly affected by politics, and don’t care about those who are. Or that you are simply unaware that politics are everywhere. It was politics that planted these roses, that creates a system in which teachers don’t earn enough money to live and teach in your neighborhood, that creates such high home prices that doctors aren’t opening practices in your district. You may not be directly affected by politics, but politics are indirectly affecting your life.
… politics are everywhere.
Come for the photos, run from the politics? I hope not. This is my personal website, and for me the personal is always political. It is politics that keeps my brother from receiving the help he needs, that keeps him on the street, that had my now deceased uncle rationing his insulin, that kept my mother from telling us she was dying of cancer out of fear for the costs.
As always these photos are available for free under the Unsplash & Pexels licenses.