Just a few years ago, I had a meeting with the then new Mayor Jozias van Aartsen. We talked about our love for the city and how The Hague was transformed into a real city of Peace and Justice. There is no city in the world that received so many important international institutes between its borders in such a short period of time.
The Mayor insisted that it was a must to get the citizens involved. ‘We have to inform people about the important work that is done here to the benefit of more peace and justice in the world. I know my fellow-citizens and I am convinced that they will highly appreciate these outreach efforts on behalf of the municipaility and with the involvement of as many as possible dedicated volunteers.’ The Mayor convinced me and he also strongly suggested that we should build strong ties with the expat community. We came up with the idea of a special ‘The Hague Bridge Programme.’ Basically our message was: ‘In our international city, no one is left behind. We all have to march over this bridge of mutual understanding!’.
And so in three years, we toured with volunteers of expat organisations like ACCESS and proud The Hague citizens, like the Mayor, through the city-districts. There are so many examples of doing things together. We did walks in the Haagse Hout district, the Mayor gave a lecture in the new city-district offfice at the Leyweg in The Hague South-West, he visited an international market in elderly people’s homes like the Wijndealercentrum in Loosduinen, the Mayor was involved in debates and so on and so. Till this very day, we can count on his support. But also deputy-Mayors joined the Haagse Brug caravan like Marjolein de Jong (international affairs) and Ingrid van Engelshoven (education).
In the first phase till last year, The Hague Bridge was a top-down programme. We took the initiative but now it is the other way round. We still organise international events like The Hague International Day in September but many events are now organised by the citizens themselves.
This year our world famous Peace Palace commemorates its 100 years of existence. The Hague Bridge team is now involved in a musical project with the participation of youngsters from 22 schools.
And we have other great news about a new event “Le-Yp INVITES”. In Leidschenveen-Ypenburg, a new hospitality program has been initiated. Local citizens take responsibillity by offering their hospitality to the many expat neighbours in this beautiful spacious part of The Hague by offering them coffee meetings, shopping together, discovering special places together and more. The simple things of life are available to enjoy but it is important “to connect”.
The Hague Bridge strongly supports these kinds of activities. If you also want to organise such a bridge building event, it is good to know that we have a little financial budget to support you.
Please visit for information our Facebook page www.facebook.com/dehaagsebrug
We are proud citizens of The Hague and it is a privilege to make this an even better city. We count on your support!
Willem Post, co-founder of The Hague Bridge