Platform Cooperativism Resource Library


Citizen initiatives across Brussels are finding new ways to collaborate. Could this be a new model for influencing social change in cities?

Brussels is a city that’s intimate with inertia. In its center stands the Palais de Justice, a grand 19th-century courthouse that was once described as the eighth wonder of the world. Scaffolding was erected in 1982 as part of a bold plan to renovate the building for the first time since the Second World War, but 37 years later it remains untouched. Political point-scoring and division over budgetary allocations have stalled the project for nearly four decades. Today, the monument serves as an icon for the dysfunction at the heart of Europe’s capital.

For locals, the Palais de Justice is a lesson that it’s often easier to start something from scratch than repurpose an old idea. The city is a hotbed for radical social enterprises, citizens’ initiatives and grassroots activism, each seeking to build alternative business models for a more sustainable and participatory future. Now, a new movement has been born to make them more effective.

Added October 11, 2019