Joost Nussy shows non-Dutch residents around
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Groningen welcomes more and more international residents, among them students but also people employed by the university and internationally oriented businesses. To introduce them to festival Terug naar het begin, we asked Joost Nussy to guide English-speaking visitors on a tour of the Groningen countryside and different festival performances. He is a regular guide for City Central, Groningen’s tourist office and the Groningen Museum.
Joost is excited to introduce non-Dutch residents to the province. “I want to liven up the region by looking at landscape through the broad lens of cultural context and history – what’s this place about? How did its history affect the landscape? How are geographical features like wierden and maren still of importance to people living in the area?”
The exact locations of the tour are still a surprise, but visitors are definitely in for a treat. “The Moluccan Church in Appingedam is quite unknown even to Dutch people. It tells its own story, intertwined with the history of the region but going beyond the classical Groningen landscape. I like Centrum Kabzeël as well, a building in typical Amsterdamse School-style, and of course the Hanging Kitchens. Leaving Appingedam, there’s the church of Krewerd. Its organ is great – it’s the oldest one in Groningen. Marsum is beautiful as well. It’s lovely to just be still: all that space, with the lonely little church in the midst of it. What stories could it tell?”
Joost hopes to spark some interest with the participants to visit the countryside on their own as well. “It’s easy to get stuck in the city. But the Ommelanden are almost literally in your backyard and it would be a colossal waste not to visit them. I’m convinced that ‘bare’ or ‘empty’ doesn’t have to equal ‘boring’. I want to show beauty in what is supposed to be ugly. When you look at your surroundings that way, you’ll always be surprised. You can feel the harmony of the scenery: green, blue, the red of the bricks…”
He laughs. “You’ll think me quite vague. Let me say it like this: at first glance, a church is nothing more than a church. After a while, you’ll notice how every church has its own character. The longer you look at it, the more details you see. Slowly you’ll enter a time and a place that is now long gone: a medieval world in which churches stood like rocks in the middle of every village. They’re a symbol of civilisation, the bearers of Groningen identity. I hope I can bring this world closer to people so that they’ll feel the urge to explore even more on their own.”