Jeanette Verdonk

Jeanette Verdonk is the marketing manager at BlueCity, a ‘city’ in the city implementing a circular economy, with a focus on sustainability and zero-waste initiatives. Jeanette moved to Rotterdam when she was 17, from a nearby village, and lived in many different areas ever since. From Boijmans van Beuningen to Blijdorp Zoo, she was part of very diverse organisations and initiatives of Rotterdam, so she really knows the ins and outs of it! We spoke to her among the entrepreneurs of BlueCity, admiring a marvellous view of de Maas and the city.

Growing up…
“I was born in a village about 30 minutes away from Rotterdam. I moved to Rotterdam when I was 17. I lived in Blijdorp, in Kralingen and other different areas of the city. 25 years ago, the city was totally different than it is now. After university, I started working for the Rotterdamse Dagblad. There, I really found out and discovered the city because I had to go everywhere, I was writing about everything that was happening. It was a really good start for me to get integrated in the city. When I was 21, I started moving around the city and discovered all kinds of areas.

I started at Breitnerstraat, near de Westerpaviljoen and Radio Rijnmond, also near the Depot. It was so different from my hometown, so I thought: “where am I??” It was really another kind of city than it is today, it was more raw and violent. I was frequenting Rotown, Club Vibes, and I was really discovering the city..

Most frequented
I like the Kralingse Bos, and nature in general. I go there to relax, run, or walk with my family. I like the Trompenburg garden as well. For relaxing, I go to museums as well, like the Depot. I also love to have good food, so I go to all kinds of restaurants.

Heilige Boontjes, nearby Boijmans. I really like them and what they are standing for, the people they are working with. There was a police station there before, and from a marketing perspective, their concept is so good. They were on my walk from the metro to Boijmans, so almost every morning, I started my day at the Heilige Boontjes.

I have been a vegetarian since I was 15. What I see now is that there are more and more restaurants with a good menu for vegetarians. I really like the Rotonde on the Goudsesingel. They are low-waste! Of course, Aloha here at BlueCity, with a marvelous view. They are also low-waste, they reuse everything. Restaurant Renilde on top of Depot Boijmans, it’s a really nice spot. I also like Putaine at de Wilhelminapier, Rijnhaven, it has the same owner as Heroine and Matroos en Het Meisje. There is so much to choose from, and good food makes me happy. I don’t like meat, but there are good, new concepts that they experiment with, a new kind of kitchen.

Going out
I don’t go partying that often anymore, I am a mother of two kids! So when I go out, I go to a performance, or if my favorite bands are playing. I go to the Maassilo, Bibelot in Dordrecht, Rotown of course. I like dancing at Rotown as well. I also go to the movies. I often go to Motel Mozaique and Parfum de Boem Boem’s activities.

Yet to be discovered
I think the South, areas like Tarwewijk for example. I don’t go there very often, but I do work for Paviljoen aan het Water, in Charlois. From the end of April until the first weekend of October it turns into a pop-up restaurant, with music, film nights. We are working together with Roffa Mon Amour, and also with people from the neighbourhood that cook food.

There are a lot of nice things going on in the South. It’s nice to know that institutes and entrepreneurs are moving closer to the South.

Ultimate tips
I would advise to see the city from the water, so maybe take the Water Taxi – just go around and see lots of Rotterdam, with the bridges as well. If you really want to discover the Rotterdam people, just go to the Nieuwe Binnenweg, with all kinds of boutiques and restaurants. Go to the Oogstmarkt and to the Zwaanshals area on Saturdays. At the Scheepvaartkwartier you really see the nice, old Rotterdam houses, as well as the Veerhaven and Het Park. There are a lot of different kinds of spots suited to your needs and what you are looking for.

Best of Rotterdam and its people
Now, I don’t live in Rotterdam anymore but I am working in the city, so I am here every day, in different spots. I like the people that work in the city and the vibe, with all its cool things. Especially people doing the most beautiful events, they really love their city and I like that, they are very proud.

Ties to MOMO
Jeanette attended different MOMO festival editions. This year at MOMO, I recommend the Swap Shop and the Solar Biennale on MOMO Playground. I will also be there on Friday!

Interview: Bianca Raicu
Photos: Alisa Mahaletska

Door Rotterdamse Ogen