It is difficult to find out what is really important in a neighbourhood through questionnaires and surveys, said researchers from Fontys Hogescholen. So they went out and had many conversations with local residents in seven Eindhoven chip shops. “The snack bar is a social hub.”
“We wanted to retrieve hidden information and the chip shop seemed very suitable for that,” said researcher Niels van Maaren. “We ended up at the chip shop because it is a social hub.”
The Fontys researchers and students personally went to seven different cafeterias in Eindhoven to ask their questions to the customers who were waiting for their fries. The question asked to every customer was: what do you treasure most in your neighbourhood?
“We asked the questions in a creative way, for example with a dice game,” said student Maartje. The extra questions were, for example: if you were invisible, what would you do for the neighbourhood, or if you could travel back in time, what would you bring to your neighbourhood?
The answers were, as expected, very diverse. A 12-year-old boy talked about a rather striking man in the neighbourhood whom he found very valuable. The older man always walks through the neighbourhood with his bulldog and cigar. “He’s like Popeye,” commented the boy. For him, this man really makes his neighbourhood.
In the conversations, researcher Anne-Marie also felt the pain and sorrow of those residents with their stories of “lost treasures” in their neighbourhood. “There is a neighbourhood where a father and mother used to live who always kept an eye on everyone when they played football. For example, if someone fell, they would get a plaster. Or, you got something to drink from them if there was a fight. Yes, those people are no longer there and everyone misses that kind of community interaction.”
A total of 80 ‘treasures’ were retrieved. The stories are intended to give the municipality of Eindhoven more insight into what is really going on in a neighbourhood. Van Maaren: “I’ve been to two chip shops myself and I could already see the difference between the two neighbourhoods by what the chip shop looked like. In cafeteria De Tempel it was very neat, in ‘t Hofke there was a completely different vibe. People also speak to each other very differently.”
In a vodcast (video podcast), presenter Mike Weerts talked to the researchers and the chip shop owners. On Tuesday, owner of De Frituurhal in Stratum Remy Waterkamp received the first photo book made as a memento of the neighbourhood from where the collected stories came.
Translated by: Shanthi Ramani