At least for me, the Sustainable workspace for collectives event uncovered a lot of strange information, quite hard to navigate.
Brussels appears to be nearing the end of a period. We might call it the temporary spaces era. In that period, it has been fairly easy for several people and groups, many of them artists, to get physical spaces for free. There was, however, a catch; freedom came with precarity. Arrangement around these spaces gives landlords the freedom to re-allocate them to newer, more profitable uses at a moment’s notice. A layer of intermediaries emerged, severing any direct contact between landlords and the communities using the space. Communities are now tired, and have realized it does not make sense to invest on a space if you are not sure you can use it long enough to recoup your investment.
There seems to be no clear way forward. And the terrain is populated by enigmatic actors, whose role is, to an outsider like me, unclear. What does the Bouwmeester, or City Master Architect, do, for example? And how exactly did the venerable holding company Sofina partner up with a local politician to launch DigitYser? Who are the intermediaries, and what can you trust them to do?
As I listened to the discussion in the room, I could not help thinking that a strategic map of Brussels would be very valuable for anyone who wants to build their own space, like, er, our own space, The Reef (more on that in future posts). The room had a lot of knowledge, but it is not structured, it is mostly based on having been around for a long time, and talking to people. @yannick, Pauline, Adrian, Koen and others can act on that knowledge. Me? No, I miss the context. Even though I have lived in Brussels for seven years, I felt very much the outsider.
It would be great if these conversations resulted in some kind of instructable that an outsider could, potentially, follow to successfully starting a space. An Edgeryders Space Program of sorts, where the #culture-squad could contribute by deploying its considerable skill at documentation and organization of knowledge.
Am I making sense?