Session: Complexities of Water - Investigating Clean Water for Community

Visiting an expert in Brussels

@albertorey and @Rachel I went to a fly fishing store in Brussels to ask for advice and assistance for the session. The guy was friendly and generous with advice, though he cannot help with equipment (he can’t resell used equipment and it’s fragile).

He said there are no suitable rivers in Brussels for fly fishing. October is also a harder period, as the season ends in september. The suitable places are 60-100km away (one in Flanders and a few in the Ardennes), and then still it would mostly be a club or an artificial pond because of the time of the year.

He gave me contacts at Mouche’T (fly fishing club in Brussels), Casting Club of Flanders VZW (fly fishing club in Ghent) and Fario Fly Fishing Club (fly fishing club in Diksmuide, West-Flanders). They would probably be a better shot at finding experts who are willing to help and also lend out their equipment.

In conclusion, actual fly fishing will be hard: it’s uncertain if it goes at all and will involve bus travels etc. That would break the rhythm of the festival as well. What we can do is do a demo in another body of water which includes everything but the actual catching, but do tell me if that does not make any sense as I’m no expert. An artificial pond seems silly considering we also want to do some citizen science experiments.

Curious to see what you think!

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@WinniePoncelet @albertorey

It is too bad there are no good Belgian rivers running through Brussels with good banks for fly-fishing.  However, doing casting and citizen science on an artificial pond would still be fun…  Practicing casting especially for dry flies is very important, if you want a big trout to jump up for them! ;)  We almost always did ‘catch and release’ fishing - which can be stressful, esp if the fish swallows the hook too far - back in the day, anyway.  Also, I would say seeing the microbial state of an artificial pond might be of great interest in terms of citizen science, esp if kids are wading in it.  :)  We have Levine Media which can distinguish E. coli by their metallic green sheen, and prevents many gram+ bugs from growing, if I should bring some - poured plates already??

bye for now!



one more thought: real gear would be nice, of course, but also string and sticks can be used to teach some basics for casting, imho…


Thanks for your hard work!

I think it would be a good idea to contact the groups that were suggested and see if we can borrow some rods and reels and if the groups would be willing to help us with the casting demo and fishing in the ponds.

If there are ponds that are available for fishing, that would be great for the adults and kids! If there is a cost associated with using the pond, we could provide free advertising for them at the festival as well as mention that we are providing opportunities for individuals who might become members of the club that runs the ponds. They could also see it as a donation to a charity.

There seems to be an opportunity here to investigate why fish can not survive in rivers in Brussel and does this create health issues to the residents if the city. What is the history of the pollution and why does it persist? This is common around the world. We can also do some testing to compare the water quality between the pond and the rivers. I believe the festival is near the la Senne river. It might be appropriate to investigate and compare it to the pond.

I scouted the neighbourhood of the Festival venue for suitable bodies of water this weekend.

There’s two lakes nearby Plage Flagey (Etang d’Ixelles), which are not so suitable since you cannot reach the water. You can do it easily in theory, and the place is actually quite nice, but you’re not allowed it seems like. They are supposedly really close to the venue though. Photos below

Another option is the lake in Bois de la Cambre, which is a 30+ min walk from Place Flagey. Could be shorter depending on the exact address of the venue (@noemi ?). You can reach the water easily. Not sure if it’s allowed, but we should ask if a demo is allowed (not the actual fishing). The distance is a problem: a one hour round trip doesn’t fit the schedule. Public transport takes as long. Perhaps a few rental cars? Photo below (click on map to see full).

The last option I didnt’t have the chance to visit, but on Google Maps it also looks suitable: Parc Leopold. Closer to Place Flagey (20 min walking) and the water is accessible. Same remarks as Bois de la Cambre. Photo below

In any case we’ll need to figure out if fishing is allowed or if a fishing demo is allowed. Thoughts? @albertorey @rachel @matteo_uguzzoni

Winnie, thanks! I think that the Leopold park could work, I will probably put it in the middle of the game, so there is plenty of time to go and come back to the location.
Now I will come up with a suggestion about how to integrate that in the game, then we can decide if it works or not @albertorey, hi, we are thinking about integrating a small demo in the game that will kick off the conference. You can read the first thoughts we had here


This sounds awesome guys, happy the flyfishing is part of the urban game!

Let me or @natalia_skoczylas if more inquiries need to be made… But our availability onsite in Brussels will be full time only starting end of September.

I still need to check if we are actually allowed to do it :wink:

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So I’ve checked the legal aspect. There’s of course a rulebook for the use of public parks: (Both in French and Dutch).


  • Fishing is strictly forbidden, so we’ll need to argue that we are doing a demo and not actual fishing. Which might not ‘fly’
  • We need to file an application and probably pay a fee. We can avoid the fee if we do it as a nonprofit, which I’m not sure we can do with our Flemish nonprofit. Then it needs to get approved still.
  • We need to pay a deposit, which is minimum €150 (cash 5 days up front at their treasury).
  • We cannot put structures or whatever ‘heavier’ equipment there, as this makes the application more expensive.

… if we want to go that way. @matteo_uguzzoni @albertorey what do you think?

Communication (how to reach an audience as eg. an artist) and storytelling are becoming an intriguing topic of conversation. See also this post on Risks of a too beautiful story-telling that sparked a lot of reactions. @iamkat also mentioned it: how do you disseminate the outputs of your project?

On the one hand, it takes a lot of effort to get your stuff out there. We can testify to that with our lab: it takes a lot of work, especially when what you do is relatively obscure. Then getting people to actually care is harder still. On the other hand, painting a rosy picture, using buzzwords and rubbing shoulders with those who have the means to take your project to the next level can also be toxic. Which factors make it harder or easier? Which kinds of obstacles do we encounter? How should we make these highly consequential, but often cloudy judgment calls? How is it all connected to business models and funding?

I am personally extremely interested in a session around this topic. Since you mention it in this session proposal, I think it would be a great topic for the discussion part of the session @albertorey @noemi @gehan @woodbinehealth. We can open it up for others with similar or completely different experiences on communication and going out there to ‘sell’ your ideas to your relevant audience.

Pinging those involved in the discussion so far for their thoughts @nadia @baderdean @alberto @unknown_author @johncoate @HadeerGhareeb @Yosser @MurielAboulrouss

It helps I think when the person responsible for the message, outreach and fundraising also either manages the on-the-ground work of the mission itself, or knows enough to do it, but works closely with someone to whom it is delegated. Funders usually want to see a main person who hands-on manages the work and is also the main champion of the idea. But if it is more than one person they have to be very tight in their day-to-day understanding of what is going on. When the message gets separated from the work, credibility drops.
Maybe that project had this disconnect. But I bet it made good copy in the annual reports of the big orgs that funded it.

It helps to lay out a vision of where you want to go and where you think you can go, then describe what you need to accomplish it. It might be interesting to have seen the grant proposals for that tree project to see what was promised.

And posing with Macron…hard to say if that helped or hurt fundraising and overall awareness. I know he made some boneheaded comment awhile back about how good to them France was as a colonial power, which didn’t make him look too sharp. But usually those photo-ops gain you more than they lose.

This isn’t exactly parallel, since it comes from business, but I was given some very sage advice by the man who ran the Chronicle Publishing Company, owner of SF Gate, to whom I had to pitch my budget, secure funding, and who helped me along the way.

First in budgeting e told me that when I made my revenue projections, it was better to predict a lower number even if it showed less or even no profit - if that was my real number. because whatever I declared was what he was going to hold me to. He would not tolerate over-promising and then under-delivering.

The second thing was when you have good news and bad news, always lead with your bad news because then your good news will be believed. It won’t necessarily if you lead with good news. And as you might expect, many do lead with their good news…


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Mmm I have a hunch. We’ve experiemented with some things in edgeryders. If they are turned into shared routines I think we can get around some of the issues

are we still thinking about doing some water sampling?
for microbes/protists/biotic index calcs??
if we want to do microbes, we need plates and incubators etc organised in advance. A DIYbunsen burner is very easy with alcohol, a jam jar and a paper wick! :slight_smile:

for the biotic index, some easy access shoreline is useful… (my students did it on a shallow river)

We can and got all of the stuff ready to use from our lab here! For biotic index and sampling we don’t need permission and the water is accessible in parc Leopold. Sampling can be part of the urban game, right @matteo_uguzzoni ? And then we can do more in depth analysis in your session @rachel

For the fishing itself I haven’t had the time to contact the autorities.

any chance of Levine or other selective media, in addition to ordinary LB, if microbial counts are done?

during the urban game, ’sterile’ conical tubes would be useful, to be labelled wherever we take a few samples, for use in analyses (plating, nitrates, etc - plankton, amoeba, algae)?
if you know anyone with biosensor bacteria for volatile pollutants, you have to make sure to leave no air bubble, btw ! :wink:

please don’t also forget the big micronuclei hunt(s)! on our cheek cells (tooth brushes to be provided, with AGiR! mini logo would be cool, huh??)!!

ciao for now, RA

I’m not fully up-to-date with what we have in the lab. @niekd is helping out with the experiments at the festival and better with this stuff. Can you pitch in?

Let’s make a list with stuff we need and then work towards gathering everything. I’ve made a spreadsheet here, please add everything you can think of:

We should get a good overview by the end of next week, so we can order what’s missing or reach out to people to bring/support us with stuff.

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put in a few things on the list…