Glossy brochure to present The Reef

Hello @alberto @Caro and @Hilde,

As discussed earlier, at some point we’ll need have a glossy brochure to present The Reef. The first use case would be the meeting(s) with the commune(s), but normally we will also need in it later on, e.g. for the neighbourhood, investors, partners etc.

It’s up to you of course to see how you want to get organised, but I’ll just mention that Alberto drafts faster than his shadow and that he said he could spend some time on Tuesday.

Just in case you’d need inspiration, here are a couple of things you could draw from:

One thing I would recommend to give some prominence is the language thingy, where I think it’s important that we can rid ourselves of the image of being a group of alien expats. Doing a quick count I get to the following:

  • Native French speakers: 5; proficient in French: 11
  • Native Dutch speakers: 3; proficient-ish in Dutch: 5

Framed differently: everybody speaks French, and half of us get by in Dutch.

I also looked up our age differentials, and we are now at a range of 32-58.

Once you have an outline I can also easily provide 2-3 paragraphs on Sipan’s story, and my father’s experience with renting out the study to young asylum seekers.


Ok, let’s give it a go. Also, maybe the times are ripe for a first meeting of Team External!

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Glossy brochure, first try

Project and values

We are a group of people who dream of building a cohousing in Brussels. We call it The Reef, because we are inspired by the diversity of the animals and plants that make their homes in coral reefs. We are a self-managed group: we do not work with a professional real estate promoter, but rather contract directly specialized services for designing and building our future home: an architects studio, a notary, a coach, a construction company.

We imagine our cohousing life as:

  • Convivial. Though each household will have its own private spaces, we are also planning some common spaces, and we would like to share them with our neighbors. We dream of a multi-functional room where we can host meetings, lectures, repair cafés and so on.
  • Light on the land. We wish for our lives in the city to be as respectful as possible of people and planet. We will try to be energy-efficient, and to avoid buying materials whose production involved the exploitation of workers and the destruction of the environment. We will leave green spaces in our plot, and grow plants to release oxygen and shelter and feed insects and birds.
  • Diversity-embracing. We would like to live with people from all walks of life. We are aware that there is a limit: home ownership in Brussels is inaccessible to lower-income households. So, we are in dialogue with social investors who would build some units and rent them out to lower-income tenants for a rent below the market price.

The group

The Reef is currently constituted by 11 households, with 16 adults and two small children, plus two social investors. We are quite diverse in age and background:

  • Adults are aged 32 to 58.
  • We are native to seven different languages. The most common ones are French (five native speakers, everyone speaks it, including the children), Dutch (three native speakers, about half of us speak it), English (two native speakers, all adults speak it).

We wish to grow to around 20 households and three or four social investors. We hold periodic public meetings in the city to recruit new members.

How we contribute to city life

We wish to be full participants in the life of Brussels, consistently with our values. For example, we see ourselves buying in bulk from local producers, and using our common spaces to support social and cultural initiatives in the neighborhood. We have the ambition to be good, friendly neighbours, the kind of people you would go to borrow some sugar from when you run out. We plan to build 2-3 inclusive units, to be rented below market price at people in need.

We also wish to contribute to contrasting the dynamic of financialization and gentrification that is affecting Brussels and so many European cities. We do this by building a cohousing and supporting others who also might want to build one. Cohousings tend to be for-life projects, so they slow down gentrification processes based on “buy cheap, sell dear”. We are in contact with most cohousings in Belgium, and will continue to be part of the cohousing movement. For the same reason, we are open to building The Reef based on a long-term lease of the land, rather than its property, in the logic of community land trusts (emphytéose).

More info:

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Great work @alberto!

I would personally make a couple of things a little more concrete, like e.g. renting out a unit to a youngster that is under the care of Minor Ndako, how we picture the use of the common space (meditation classes, NVC classes), that we could have a “left-over fridge” like they have in Brutopia …

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I think this is too idiosyncratic (what if people do not like NVC, but would prefer boardgame nights?) and too verbose (it’s easy to make these things lenghtier, and hard to shorten them again).

Definitely not the most urgent topic at this time, but a proposal for a glossy brochure is available here : glossy brochure 05-2024

Feedback welcome !


Waw! That looks absolutely brilliant! Thanks so much @Caro!

Would you possibly have a Word document with the text only?

Also: @alberto would you see a way how we could use this text for a trilingual version of our website? If we would now be moving into a neighbourhood, it would be really good if we would have a website also in Dutch and French.

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