What do I think about Oldenzaal after writing 25 columns. It was strange to suddenly change from a ‘nobody’ into a ‘known body’; not always pleasant in a town where strong social control and gossip are part of daily life. I tried to stay objective, talked with over 200 different people, got 241 emails with reactions and 46 invitations.
(workers look at the notables) In my opinion Oldenzaal is a bourgeois country society. The place is too big to be a village and too small to be a town. Although it is a city by law since the Middle Ages, nothing is left from that period except an old church (and it’s tower). It’s a closed community where a small band of big entrepreneurs rule the roost.
Social life is organised through a network of clubs (for sports and hobbies). If you’re no member of such a club you won’t be a member of the society. 14% of the population is immigrant (mainly from Turkey), but they are hardly integrated. Companies and local shopkeepers have their own closed circuit. In this way Oldenzaal is a very ordinary little society.
I left this town behind in a temporarily disunity; the pro-Threesanna’s and the contra-Treesanna’s. The contra’s refuse to use the H in my name. The pro’s loved my columns, for they say it hit the mark; the contra’s didn’t because they don’t like any comment of an outsider.
I’m looking back on a very special project. I learned a lot about how a small society like this functions, about the fears and dreams of the population, how they try to keep what they have and don’t like any interference in their small paradise.