Match houses

Mariaberg neighbourhood party a success

Although communal activities are organised on a regular basis in the Mariaberg district, residents often do not hear about them. This is a missed opportunity, in Alexander Dicker’s view. He organised a creative afternoon for children and drinks for the residents on 4 January, together with Stichting Ateliers Maastricht (SAM), the emerging neighbourhood network and the Match Maastricht project, a UM project seeking to increase social engagement among students. “Hopefully this first gathering will lead to more initiatives.”

One year ago, alumnus Dicker, his studying girlfriend Masha and their mutual friend Leonid moved into a house in the Seringenstraat. It is one of three community centres – the others are in Wittevrouwenveld and Nazareth – that are rented to the participants of Match, a Maastricht University project seeking to increase social engagement among students. In exchange for subsidised rent, the residents spend eight hours per week on social activities in the neighbourhood. This was right up Dicker’s alley. “I enjoy helping other people. When I moved in here, I started by greeting everyone I saw on the street. That’s how the locals got to know me. Now they know where to find me and they call me with questions, especially the kids.”


This part of the Match project is intended to bring together refugees and other residents. “But we didn’t actually know where the refugees lived in Mariaberg. So I went around knocking on doors. That’s how I met the man from Eritrea. He’d planted a vegetable garden in his front lawn. I work as a gardener myself, so I started helping him. If you share a passion, it can work, even with the language barrier. Since then we’ve planted a number of vegetable trays on the field across from the Seringenstraat, which we want to expand into a big vegetable garden. We also planted sunflowers there. The plan is to do the same again next year, but across the whole neighbourhood.”

After Dicker and his flatmates organised a crafts afternoon on the field for local kids last autumn, they set their sights on a larger scale neighbourhood party. Dicker had come into contact with Anne van Aalst, who is also involved in the neighbourhood through the Stichting Ateliers Maastricht (SAM). “SAM manages some 60 studios and living/workspaces for artists in and around Mariaberg, but we’re not very well-known in the area”, Van Aalst explains. “The neighbourhood party seemed like a great way to get to know the residents.”

The party kicked off on 4 January with a creative afternoon at SAM for the little ones. Van Aalst: “Many of the kids were joined by their parents and grandparents. Then the party relocated to Trajekt’s community centre, where around 40 people attended the drinks. SAM helped with things like setting up and decorating the hall.”

Film evening

Van Aalst and Dicker look back on the party with satisfaction. “There were kids, students, residents and artists all mingling with one another”, Dicker says. “This was new for us as well, but the joining of forces between Match, SAM, Trajekt and the neighbourhood network is definitely worth repeating. Working together allows us to reach many more residents. One idea is to have an open-air film screening on the field in summer. But I’m also hoping people will come up with initiatives themselves. It would be ideal if the field became the centre of the neighbourhood, where people can get together spontaneously.”

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