Published on 16 April 2018

Champagne and water

Cobouw column by Hannie Dierx

Madurodam is a model village just outside The Hague, where the Netherlands’ buildings, trains, aircraft, roads and other infrastructure are exquisitely recreated in miniature. It is said that the average Dutch citizen visits Madurodam three times in their life: once as a child, once as a parent and once as a grandparent. I recently enjoyed the second visit. Not only had I changed since my first trip as a child, so has Madurodam itself. The site has been updated and expanded to include five new indoor attractions, which present typically Dutch stories intended to engender pride in our nation. It works. Ever since, I have found myself looking at the Netherlands and the Dutch in an entirely different light. Of course there are still a few ‘rough edges’ and challenging issues, but there are also many inspiring stories to be told.

I am certain that these powerful stories can be used to increase social cohesion and a common sense of belonging. They can help to increase the number of proud Dutch citizens, who will go on to create new stories for the future – and for my third visit to Madurodam. The rough edges and challenging issues are useful too: they can act as warnings and teach us not to repeat our mistakes. They can encourage us to think, innovate, come up with good ideas and work hard to achieve our ambitions.

One of the stories I find particularly inspiring concerns our ongoing struggle to tame the water. This is something that affects everyone in our country, regardless of background, education, gender, appearance or whatever. Water management in all its aspects is part of the Dutch DNA. It involves us all, consciously or otherwise. The rest of the world looks on with great interest and learns from our many successes.

Everyone takes pride in our achievements. Imagine coming home from work and finding your children waiting with a lovely drawing of a floodgate. Or your parents on the doorstep with a bottle of champagne to congratulate you on the completion of your latest project, as reported in the national press. The things in which we take pride never go unnoticed.

Hannie Dierx
 Manager Witteveen+Bos office The Hague

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