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Stamtafel De Wolden

Rural municipality De Wolden consists of sixty-four small villages and hamlets and as a communal municipality it celebrates its 25-year anniversary in 2024. To mark this occasion the manifestation Wiede Wold was created with communal projects, theatre on location, and a designers programme. For the latter seven designers were invited to work on the theme The future of the countryside.
When studio Foodcurators first was invited, the idea was to work on local and regional food products. But at it turned out, the regional product that people from De Wolden really found typical of their identity was naoberschap. This form of community spirit seems typical to the rural east of The Netherlands, but is it really that unique? Is it true that feelings of togetherness, solidarity, and community are singular to rural areas?
Stamtafel De Wolden is a place for get-togethers in De Wolden, situated around the theme of community spirit. The setting consists of a “regulars’ table” hand-carved with anecdotes and statements of the local community in De Wolden, about naoberschap. By carving over and over, meanings and interpretations of the term lead to a layered and lived-through surface of the oak table.  On this table another layer is added in the form of a tablecloth embroidered with headlines and news items about naoberschap and how this concept has been politically exploited. During the most recent national selections, naoberschaphas been applauded but also used as a way to accommodate for disappearing facilities in rural areas. In other words: because people were looking out for one another, they would need less facilities instituted by the government.
In the past, people would ask each other formally to become their “naober,” and if accepted they would solidify this mutual obligation with a toast. For Stamtafel De Wolden special toasting glasses were created with etchings of the rural environment, but also a hyperlink to an online meeting. For as Wiede Wold brings together many people both from all the villages and hamlets of The Wolden as well as visitors from abroad, it would be a perfect occasion to test if naoberschap could be expanded to people who do not live next-door to you. Each glass comes with a date and time, which is only used for two glasses, and is divided randomly. Anyone who purchases a glass has the opportunity to go on an online “blind naober date” and meet someone, whether they live just a few hundred metres away, or come from an entirely different place altogether.

A special drink with flavourtones of peat (a reference to peat excavations in the area – a true symbol of rural vs. urban inequality in The Netherlands), heather and honey bring the rural surroundings to live in an unspoken, sensorial way.