Will we manage to find a better site?

Hello @reeflings,

Here’s a post to kick-start a discussion about whether or not we will manage to find a better site. It’s a bit long, so I’m going to divide it in seperate pieces with a heading

It’s important that we talk about this at the next plenary meeting

Last Sunday, when he was taking confessions, my father mentioned to several of us that we have made so much progress over the last months, and he suggested that there may be a better site somewhere that we haven’t found yet. This seems to be something that resonated with several people, so putting on my Coordinator hat, I believe it’s very important that we look into this, and that all voices are heard.

So for the plenary on Thursday I have included an agenda point in the beginning that I have named “Will we find a better site?”. The mighty @Caro will be preparing an overview on the sites that are still in the pipeline, based on all the work that Team Building has put into the so-called “Fiche Factory”.

What we can learn from the Fiche Factory

As an introduction, taking off my Coordinator hat (i.e. speaking in my voice), I would like to offer some thoughts on this issue. I have a lot of respect for all of my father’s insights, and for everything he does for The Reef, but on this particular point, which I discussed with him on Sunday evening, I believe he did not have all the information to go as far as to suggest that there are many more good sites that we just haven’t found yet.

The reason I think that is because what we can learn from the Fiche Factory. During the last 12 months we have spotted and screened about 170 sites. Of those, so far, we have sent 5 sites for a feasibility study: Drootbeek, Kersbeek, JET-14, MOL-26 and AND-28. Of those, only JET-14 and AND-28 are potential sites, noting that the first two didn’t even lead to a feasibility study. So even if there are still some 25 sites in the “sites still in” folder, the probability that it includes a site that will lead to a positive feasibility study in the foreseeable future - IMHO - is rather slim.

If you would like to check for yourself, don’t hesitate to go to the Fiche Factory (internal link) to have a look. The Excel sheet (don’t mess it up!) is also very visual in showing that the number of sites that make it to the end of the process is incredibly low.

In addition, only a good month ago, when there was much less of a perspective, we were a bit desperate, and we were planning to scout half of Brussels another time, and more than one Reefling wondered whether we were going to succeed or whether we were actually looking for something that didn’t exist.

The story about the cohousing group that didn’t buy that wonderful site

In the early days of The Reef, I believe it was the first time that we met Mark, he told us the story of an aspiring cohousing group that was offered a site near Albert. This site belonged to an old lady, who had stated in her will that she wanted the site to be used for something “solidaire” (FR) or inclusive like a cohousing. That group eventually didn’t buy that site, believing that they would be able to find a better site, which they did not, and that was the end of their story. In my memory Mark told the story while wagging his finger (though that may be my brain filling something in), saying "when you see a good site, you need to buy it!".

Now that we are where we are, I am very grateful for that story and for Mark’s advice, which is the reason why I’m sharing it here. That said I also see now that it only takes us so far, because it is not excluded that in some cases it creates a bit of psychological pressure to buy a site that may not be so good after all. Personally I don’t think that’s the case here, and I believe we also have the Blueprint to help us figure out the qualities of a site, but I wanted to mention this nevertheless, because I also don’t want this story to become an authority argument.


These are stressful times, where we are now close to making a very important decision. So far, the collective intelligence has always brought us the wisdom that we needed, so I want to trust that this is also going to be the case now. So let’s start the plenary meeting with Caro’s presentation, and then do a couple of rounds and see where that takes us.