Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Raymond Landegent and together with Berend van Zanten I founded OASE, a social and sustainable mini mall in the heart of Rotterdam.
Why did you start OASE and when?
After we founded our creative agency ‘Normaalridders’, we have been starting multiple projects with the goal to normalize sustainable consumerism. In the last three years, we organized events, such as the ‘CHANGEZ clothing swap’ and the ‘Dus Wat Gaan Wij Doen festival’ at Blue City, ‘PechaKucha Rotterdam’, the ‘Future Flight Movie Night’ or the ‘MALS vegan festival’. These were all great events, but at some point we realized that if we want to have real, continuous impact we need to build a community rather than just spending one or two nice days with people. So, we decided to finally set up our own place.
The name is inspired by the term ‘Moraalridders’, who are people that tell you what you should and shouldn’t be doing. We don’t like this kind of behavior. We think that many people will refuse to act more sustainably if other people tell them to. The twist ‘Normaalridders’ shall express that we explicitly don’t tell people what to do, but rather role-model sustainable behavior which we consider as ‘normal’. We want to inspire people and show that sustainable living is equally, if not more, enjoyable. That, however, also sometimes requires to challenge people on their consumption: ‘Why are you buying so many new clothes each month, why are you traveling so much?’ We really question if that makes people happier or if that’s simply what we have learned as being normal and desirable.
Tell us more about OASE
We see Oase like a clubhouse in which we combine different concepts and events. On the second floor is the Swapshop010 of the Awareness Kollektiv where people can exchange clothes. Our kitchen is led by two girls that cook plant based food and set themselves to tackle food waste. On the first floor, we have the green area ‘de Kas’ which we use for events, workshops or open for people’s brainstorming sessions. We also collaborate with other collectives and businesses, sell their products or advertise what they do.
Our mission is to reconnect people with each other, but also reconnect people with nature. Capitalism has brought us a lot of luxury, but it also disconnected us to the world around us. That’s also why we chose the name ‘Oase’. We like to act as a counterbalance in this area that we experience as more of a capitalistic desert.
You just opened recently. How would you say it’s going for now?
It’s true, we are open for two months now, but we also only have two months left. The building will be demolished, so it’s unfortunately temporary. Even if it’s a very short time, the building and the location were too good, so we just went for it. And so far, it’s going pretty well! People like the combination of the different concepts and appreciate that we do things somehow ‘differently’. We get very good feedback on the design, the events and just the positive vibe here. It was also our wish to make it laid back and radiate a living room feeling.
If it’s timely bound, do you have future plans for OASE?
We have conversations with the city council about a new location, but we don’t know if we will find something yet. However, we don’t have any pain at the moment. There is a lot on our agenda in the next two months and that’s what we are currently focusing on. The program is quite dense. But it’s certainly always in the back of our minds: What are we gonna do in January? Are we going to close it down or can we relocate?
My vision would be to grow even bigger, have more collectives join and build something like a ‘sustainable warehouse’. The building next door would be free (Hudson’s Bay), but that’s maybe too big of a step at that point (laughs).
What can the community support you with?
Right now, what we need most is awareness. I mean, we get a lot of attention and great feedback, but I want this place to be full from 9 in the morning till 17 in the evening. The more people join the ecological movement, the more ‘cross-pollination’, the more connections and the more impact we can make. If we can grow and find a new home for Oase in the new year, I would also really be interested to connect with more collectives or projects that want to join our vision. So, please spread the word and connect with us if you want to join our movement!