Last week, I went to the restaurant with my kids and there were photos of the Beatles on the wall. My curious son was asking lots of questions about them and why they are famous. I explained that that they were one of the greatest bands of all time and the following day, we looked at a few of their videos on YouTube, including this one:
Roll forward to Wednesday evening of this week and I am invited to a dinner with a difference. In Brussels, a group of young people have organised themselves into a “legal” squat. Not in some run down abandoned building in a poor part of the city but in a magnificent old house with vast gardens close to “l’observatoire” in Uccle, one of the most expensive areas in Belgium. Take a look at their website or facebook page to get an idea of what it’s like (communal ASBL)
On the menu … well, again, that’s also different. They have agreements with merchants who sell food on the markets to recuperate what isn’t sold and reuse to cook communal meals where you pay what you like with a minimum of 1.50 euro.
All the furniture is also recuperated and these squatters have essentially created their own micro-collaborative economy where sharing, reuse, relationships, respect and many of the other values I refer to in other posts are central to how they organise themselves.
To the untrained eye, the dreadlocks, beer bottles and sheep in the garden could lead us to think that this is a marginal, hippy colony but I can tell you, it’s much more that that. The ones I spoke with are bright university students who want to apply what they are learning towards the development of an economy which isn’t that far from my own ambition, even if the form it is taking looks very different. I hope to spend more time with them and really understand the values and the mission behind what we simply see so that I understand how it links to the communities I hope to help build through crowdfunding, crowdsourcing and open innovation.
In the words of the great John Lennon “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one” ….. and I would go even further which is to say that at least in the case of “communa asbl”, it is no longer a dream, but a reality. Come along with me some Wednesday and see for yourself.