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COMMONS JOSAPHAT

130831_WE-CommonsJos_P1070456Commons Josaphat est une plate-forme indépendante d’habitants de quartier, de militants et d’associations. Ce qui nous lie, c’est l’idée que notre ville peut être gérée comme un bien commun. Nous avons besoin d’une ville plus durable, plus participative et plus équitable. Partout dans Bruxelles des expériences sont déjà menées selon ces principes. Il est à présent temps de passer à l’étape suivante et, partant des initiatives existantes, développer un quartier qui fonctionne selon ces mêmes principes. Notre but est que le site Josaphat, une friche à cheval sur Schaerbeek et Evere, soit développé en bien commun. Nous avons élaboré une proposition réaliste que nous voulons défendre à la Région Bruxelloise, propriétaire du terrain, et auprès des deux communes impliquées. Cette proposition comporte des propositions concrets sur l’organisation de l’habitat, le travail, la vie dans ce quartier.

Notre travail est le fruit de groupes de travail et d’une assemblée générale où tous les progrès sont rassemblés et où se prennent les décisions stratégiques.

Actuellement, deux groupes de travail sont actifs. L’atelier de « modélisation » élabore un projet concret pour une partie du site. Des initiateurs d’école participative, d’un projet d’habitat solidaire, d’une maison de naissance, d’une société coopérative et d’un producteur d’énergie coopérative se retrouvent autour de la table afin d’élaborer un plan concret pour une partie du site ?

L’atelier « usage temporaire » essaye, à travers l’utilisation temporaire du site selon les principes des Communs, de mettre les bases pour que le futur quartier se développe et soit géré selon ces mêmes principes.

Souhaitez-vous contribuer à faire du site Josaphat un quartier modèle innovant, qui réponde aux défis écologiques, économiques et sociaux ? Un quartier qui dit oui à la coopération, à la collaboration et à l’économie locale, un quartier qui crée une dynamique solidaire, interculturelle et intergénérationnelle, un quartier qui met l’accent sur la qualité de vie ? Alors rejoignez-nous ! Contactez-nous et nous vous dirons où et quand nous mettre au travail ensemble.


COMMONS JOSAPHAT

130723_P1070173Commons Josaphat is een onafhankelijk platform van buurtbewoners, militanten en verenigingen. Wat ons bindt is het idee dat onze stad bestuurd kan worden als een commons, een gemeengoed. We hebben nood aan een meer duurzame, participatieve en meer rechtvaardige stad. Overal in Brussel wordt al volop geëxperimenteerd met deze principes. Het is nu tijd om de volgende stap te zetten en, vanuit de bestaande initiatieven, een buurt te ontwikkelen die volgens deze principes werkt.  Ons doel is dat de Josaphatsite, een braakliggend terrein op de grens tussen Schaarbeek en Evere, wordt ontwikkeld als een commons. Wij werkten een realistisch voorstel uit dat wij nu willen verdedigen bij het Brussels Gewest, de eigenaar van het terrein, en bij de twee betrokken gemeentes.Het voorstel omvat concrete voorstellen voor de manier waarop er gewoond, geleefd en gewerkt zal kunnen worden in deze buurt.

Onze werking wordt gedragen door werkgroepen en door een algemene vergadering waar alle vorderingen worden samen gelegd en waar de strategische beslissingen worden genomen.

Momenteel zijn er twee werkgroepen actief. De werkgroep “modelbouwblok” werkt een concreet project uit voor een deel de site. De initiatiefnemers van een participatieve school, een solidair woonproject, een geboortehuis, een coöperatief bedrijf, een coöperatieve energieproducent, ze zitten samen rond de tafel om van daaruit een concreet plan uit te werken voor een van de bouwblokken van de site.

De werkgroep tijdelijk gebruikt probeert om, via het tijdelijk gebruik van de site volgens de ideeën van de commons, een aanzet te geven om de toekomstige buurt ook zo veel mogelijk volgens die principes te ontwikkelen en te besturen.

Wil je meewerken aan de Josaphat-site als een innoverende voorbeeldwijk die beantwoordt aan ecologische, economische en sociale uitdagingen? Een wijk die ja zegt tegen coöperatie, samenwerking en lokale economie; een wijk die solidaire, interculturele en intergenerationele dynamieken creëert, een wijk die de nadruk legt op leefkwaliteit? Doe dan mee met ons! Contacteer ons, en we vertellen je waar en wanneer je met ons aan de slag kan.

 

 

 

 


COMMONS JOSAPHAT

130831_WE-CommonsJos_P1070470Everywhere in the city people come together to experiment with new ways of community living. Food Teams, cohousing projects, self managed nurseries, community land trusts, community gardens, sustainable neighbourhoods, LETS-communities, energy cooperatives, groups of people that consider alternatives and work on various themes such as water management, food production, money, labour, or software. At first sight these themes seem rather disconnected from each other, but we feel there is a connection. And gradually we understand these connections better. The concept of the commons reaches us a good tool for this analysis. These initiatives are developing alongside the market. They emphasize use rather than ownership, common ownership and sharing rather than individual property. They try to handle the limited resources of our planet with care, rather than assuming unlimited growth. They favour more solidarity to further polarization. They sometimes depend on the state, but develop in parallel, because they attach great importance to self-governance. Doing this they do not go against policy, but work together with it and deepen it.

We see the connections, we feel the potential. We see how the contours of a new society are being drawn. For about every area of daily life people today are working on concrete alternatives. What if we succeeded in bringing all these alternatives together? Wouldn’t that strengthen our community potential to a big extent? What if we would think together about how the city can be developed based on these principles?

The Region of Brussels is the owner of an area of 24 ha, the Josaphat terrain in Schaarbeek. This site is public property, which means it is ours. For a while this terrain was in the running to become the new home of the seat of the European Community. This plan was called off, and for years the terrain has been waiting for a new use. It is very likely that it will work like we’re used to in Brussels: the plans are being made behind closed doors (this is already going on), then the terrain will be sold to the highest bidder, in the best case with here and there a concession to the neighbours, some leftover green and some public housing to appease the conscience.
What’s stopping us to elaborate an alternative for this? Why not turn this terrain into a place for the “commons”? A terrain that permits us to bring the concrete initiatives from the last years to a higher level, to step into the lights and take part in making the city.DSC06063

We have juridical models like a Community Land Trust that enable us to possess 24ha as collective ownership. We have financial models that allow us to do urban agriculture. Hundreds of people are already working together within the social economy. The States General of the Water is ready with ideas to give the water back its position as common good in the city. Everything we need now is that this public terrain, which has the size of 32 soccer fields in Schaarbeek, is transferred to the community through a collective decree, instead of being made available for the market.

Some concrete ideas can help us to take this road. These are fundamental principles. To make them operational we need to deepen them together and adapt them to the local situation.

Shared Added Value
The added value created by the terrain can be shared. It can be invested in community projects. The profits of the value don’t end up in the pockets of an agent, but are rightfully shared amongst the individual that invests and builds, and the community that makes this possible. All the activities that create added value on the terrain, like the renting of stores or working spaces, the selling of houses, the renting of public space for markets and terraces, will repay a part of their created added value for the financing of the area.

Shared decision
The decisions are taken together by
– directly involved parties (inhabitants, people working in the area)
– other involved parties (neighbours, users of the services, …)
– representatives of the public interest like the municipality, regional and federal governments
The profits that come forth from what is communal are shared through a participatory budget. All the inhabitants, neighbours and users of the space are invited yearly to jointly determine which investments should be prioritized, to put forward projects and to manage the commons.

Redistribution
This part of the city should always be accessible to the entire population, by prioritizing the support of the poorest. No-one of the inhabitants can become owner of the ground on which his or her house is built. The houses will always be affordable for the majority of the inhabitants of Brussels.
Respect for the environment, which is managed as a commons
The roofs and a part of the public space will be made available for urban agriculture. This way locally high quality food is being produced. At the same time green space is created in the city.
The water will obtain a position in the public space; water which is cared for and which shapes our everyday environment.
An energy neutral building will be built and energy production will happen on location, via a cooperation owned by residents and neighbours.

A local, open source economy
The economical activities represent the open source principles. The information technology and new forms of material and immaterial value production can be developed together with the local community. The savings of the residents do not end up in the meanders of the financial markets but are invested in projects in the area. A cooperative store, managed by her users, delivers high quality products at a reasonable prize.

What keeps us from thinking about this and from strengthening and deepening our ideas thanks to the intelligence of the public debate? We have nothing to lose, and everything to win! On a one hour drive from London you can find the garden city Letchworth, which is managed this way, with more than 750ha of communal property, 100 million pounds fixed capital and more than 8 million which is invested yearly through a participatory budget.
Working on this together will help us to get to know each other better, to find ways to coordinate our initiatives and to gain significance in Brussels together. That nobody will be able to take away from us anymore.

But if we succeed to elaborate a convincing alternative, designing the city together, then we will definitely also succeed to gain support for our alternative from many. And if we have a good proposal, and if we are with many to defend it, wouldn’t we also be able to realize it? We can take the step to a more sustainable, just and communal city.
Josaphat is an area of regional importance. Our region today has an interest, in the first place, in finding a way out from the deadlock in which we have ended up, and in finding an answer to the economical, social and ecological crises with which we are confronted. That is what we think is the regional importance of Josaphat. Right now it still is 24ha of blank slate. Let’s use that slate to draw a blueprint for the city of tomorrow, without fear and without taboos. Let us, full of joy, work on a city of which the wealth it produces benefits the quality of life of all Brussels’ residents.

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6 thoughts on “Commons Josaphat ?

  1. Instead of selling the land to commercially oriented investors, the landowner could make a long-term building lease agreement with the commons initiative (if not better transferring the land to the Community Land Trust). Many cities in Switzerland, e.g. Zurich, Basel, Bern, tend to make such arrangements. Currently in Basel, a referendum is underway for a strict cantonal self-commitment not to sell public land any longer. See http://www.bodeninitiative-basel.ch (in German only)

    • Indeed. Great idea / I am astonish that in Switzerland such initiatives take place ! To me, I took for granted that CH was a narrow minded and business oriented Confederation. My prejudices, , sorry for my own narrow mindedness. ” It’s a wonderful world “( on Amstrong ‘s melody and rythm ) …I would like ta add that .. It will be a wonderful world provided we want and will it , with heart and intelligence.

      • In Zurich, the problem is now the Gentrification of the area/ create by the “Community Land Trust’ project ; On the contrary, In Brussels ,the cityzens are afraid of “pauperism”, ghetto .of poor people pouring down in Schaerbeek/Evere ( jardins Latinis) … At both end there are problems but that’s not a réason to stop this”mild utopia”. Commons Josaphat wants to be end realist; at least that’s their scope and target.

  2. The AG was interresting, very detailed. To me the best part waq the budget one because it seems to me that money is both the bone of contention and the point where a Community and a collaborative work/horizon might emerge or not. Budget is the concrete vision of an utopia. Une Z;U;T ou zone d’utopie temporaire doit tenter de se perenniser. Est ce possible ?
    The podcast of the “Commons Josaphat ” Radiopanik ‘s Report is coming soon . Wait and see !

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