Annemarie Heite is team leader at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences and the figurehead of the fight against the extraction of natural gas in Groningen and for the just treatment of victims of the earthquakes caused by the gas drilling industry. Just as many other Groningen locals, Heite has taken a stance against the gas production company NAM. Heite’s farm in Bedum has suffered extensive damage caused by the earthquakes that have taken place in her area. Following a long struggle to maintain the farm (dating 1837), Heite and her family are now temporarily living in a container, until they can move into their new, self-financed wooden home built in the same spot.
Media attention for Heite and her family began in 2014, when director Piet Hein van der Hoek began filming a documentary about their situation – with permission to hang 24 cameras in their home. The documentary ‘The Silent Quake’ (De Stille Beving) was screened last year (2017) and received many positive reactions. Heite received the ‘Woman in the Media Award 2017’ (Vrouw in de Media Award 2017) for the way in which she, as a victim, got nation-wide attention for the Groningen earthquake. Starring on TV shows such as RTL-LateNight, De Wereld Draait Door, Nieuwsuur and Jinek, Heite used her show time to introduce the story of the Groningen earthquake in layman’s terms, making it a subject discussed in living rooms throughout the Netherlands. She also won the ‘Reuringprijs’ from the Noorder Pers Sociëteit. The jury deemed Heite ‘the Joan of Arc of Bedum, the voice of reason in the unjust battle with multinationals and our own government’.
Photo: Egbert Euser