Meet Trude Maas of the Utrecht Development Board

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Trude Maas was trained as a linguist at University of Utrecht. Her career began in educational testing, and later in ICT.

Since 1998 she has had a varied portfolio of activities. Trude served on several corporate and not for profit boards and was a member of the Dutch Senate for the PvdA until 2007. She now chairs the advisory board of Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens, serves on the board of SIDN Fonds, and is on the board of TivoliVredenburg Fonds.

Could you explain your current role at Utrecht Development Board?

The Utrecht Development Board which I chair, consists of a group of people professionally active in Utrecht.  The Board is non institutional, all members are voluntary. We try to cover the fields we want to act on. Our mission is to connect people and movements that aim to raise the quality of the fast growing city. By closer cooperation they can often book quicker results. By doing so we strengthen the network of the city.

Which of your other roles do you like best?

I am fascinated by the role technology plays in giving a voice to people. By bottom up movements. And the conditions that we need to develop to use this for the best in communities like ours.

What is it you want for Utrecht?

Utrecht has a high quality of living, but for some it is less and even worsening. We should prevent the city from becoming a heaven for the well to do, excluding the others. Gentrification and segregation are getting stronger, and I wonder if the right people are aware and willing to act.

How do you try to influence opinion in favour of Utrecht?

We regularly publish columns, and a newsletter. Often we also act behind the scenes. Sometimes we write a manifesto, or write an open letter. It depends on what we want to achieve, and whom we want to influence. We have an open and active relationship with relevant civil servants, and several institutions in the city, like Utrecht University, and Ondernemersfonds.

Are there any “grand works” for Utrecht in the pipeline?

We want to Improve the mobility. Bikes are not suitable for the kids coming to the Maxima centrum, nor for 80 years old people. Traffic is chaotic and becoming dangerous because of all the ebikes etc, especially in the city centre. Walking becomes virtually impossible at times.

We also need to rethink public transport, we need to be connecting the Randstad. Cars are not the solution. Broader roads neither. This problem is too big for just one city, but why don’t we take the initiative, if others don’t? We need to behave like an adult!

We have to make sure that the creative class has room to experiment, now that all empty spaces are being used for building houses. We must prevent further segregation in sports, schools etc.

We also need to make sure that higher education in Utrecht becomes more diverse.

Trude was born in Amsterdam and moved to Utrecht when she was 11.

What would be a perfect day for you in Utrecht?

A visit to the Saturday flower market.

What is your favourite place in Utrecht?

Vlindertuin in Maxima park for its silence, and TivoliVredenburg for its diverse music.

Does Utrecht inspire you?

Yes, but not at the moments that is acts “calimero like”. Utrecht should be more proud of itself, and realize its potential.

Some interesting views from Trude Maas.

Do you think that Utrecht needs more coordination on the transport front? Should there be fewer cars or more regulation on ebikes? Do they make our roads unsafe?

What about linking up other parts of the city. Is enough being done there?

Can Utrecht start to take a pride in what it has achieved. Should Utrechters blow their own trumpet more?

You have a city to be proud of, but what more can Utrecht achieve?


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Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins

Jon Wilkins is Welsh and lives in England. He is a writer. A Europhile and Remainer, he is a regular visitor to Utrecht and has set his crime novel series in the city.

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