Brussels claims for its own T Days…..but in a Pic Nic version!
It all started at the end of May 2012, when a great man, the charismatic Belgian philosopher and professor Philippe Van Parijs, published a fiery call to action, titled “Brussels: Pic Nic the streets”.
In this powerful appeal (I really recommend you to have a look at it…it’s simply irresistible!), all Brussels citizens are called to take to the streets and regain possession of the city center public spaces.
If we think about it, it is paradoxical! Brussels, the capital of Europe, the city that should give the good example, the nexus from which all smart cities and sustainability policies are spreading over, is indeed characterized by a congested mobility, right through its central urban heart.
So, on June 10th the first Giant Pic Nic event took place in Boulevard Anspach, right in front of the Stock Exchange building. More than 2000 residents, mostly families, invaded one of the most central and busy avenues, blocking the car traffic for a couple of hours.
Going back in time…the idea of a collective pic nic to demand room for pedestrians and cyclists has got an illustrious precedent in the Brussles history.
In 1971a sit in protest was organized in the form of a pic nic in the Grand Place, “the world ‘s most beautiful car park” at that time. Motor vehicles access was hence blocked by city residents, Jacques Brel being among them.
A few months later the Mayor gave in and the Grand Place turned back into the splendor we all can visit and admire today.
Thanks to the success of the first Pic Nic event and to the power of social media, now every Sunday noon, Brussels people meet at “Place de la Bourse” to reclaim the central street to its public function. Starting from a total bottom up perspective, citizens are determined to go on and actively propose the pedestrianization of this area as a permanent solution. A short video to get a glimpse of the whole story.
Does this remind you of anything? Bologna’s T Days are the exact Italian corresponding case: a central street (three in our case), a “Bourse”, a precedent in the 70/80’s, a citizenship eager to make the public administration hear its voice. But, strangely enough, the Italian case represents a best practice this time, from which Brussels could learn so that to transform a city hacking phenomenon into a wide and structured concentration process.
Or…looking at it the other way around, Bologna people could flavor their T Days weekends, organising nutritious mortadella pic nics on the Mayor Square.