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Antwerp, Belgium



A friend’s post on social media in which he called for volunteers, made me join a CoderDojo which was specifically aimed at kids that had limited access to internet or the use of computers. Meaning basically that any ‘kid from the block’ could join in any session and participate in the activities. You must imagine that for some of them it was the first time ever to touch a computer mouse…
Scratch, Microbit, Arduino, robots, drones… we let them discover many of the wonders of digital technologies.
My daughter also joined – obviously – but as she moved to another hobby with an overlapping schedule and as I’m also the Taxi Daddy, I stopped the coaching activity… for now.

Stichting Zondag!

OK, so here’s the story: we were a little bit crazy, probably. We, that’s a crew of a few people in Antwerp that joined up in a non-profit organization with the purpose of organizing open stages on a very regular basis. You can take that literally: every Sunday one of us hosted such an evening in the back of their favourite (or a collaborating) pub. For years, we have been welcoming artists of all kinds, from the obvious musicians and poets over comedians and dancers to even DJ’s and VJ’s, anything that fitted on a small stage was able to earn 15 minutes of fame.
But it didn’t stop with the pub sessions: every year, we went outside, and in full force planted a festival-like event somewhere in the city of Antwerp and gave a showcase of that year’s best performances. And we did that on some pretty exotic locations: right in front of the cathedral (see picture), on the well-known Flandria boats, next to the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, in one of the Sint-Annatunnel’s elevators, decorated as a grandma’s living room, and so on.
Personally, I pretty often took stage as MC, not only on our own stages but also on many others, and aside that performed with my mix of poetry and comedy (yup, that’s poedy for you). Pretty sure that helped a lot in polishing my public speaking skills 🙂

Trash The Garbage

This project has been my own (brain)child for quite a few years. After attending a very nice music festival in the middle of the Ardennes’ woods but also noticing how much litter and rubble was left afterwards by all those so-called nature loving festivalgoers, I decided I wanted to do something about that. I already had a long-standing interest in ecology and responsible product design so, one and one came together and tadaa, Trash The Garbage was born: an initiative with a primary focus on the creation of awareness that we don’t just throw stuff on the ground, but throw it in a trash bin. To make cleaning up your own mess more attractive, I experimented with posters and message boards, creative trash bins (e.g. a decorative fake tree with a net in it, worked like a charm, or little MiniWashes for an edition of Laundry Day), games where your cups acted as playing money, and workshops with kids in which they could earn a certificate as official Trashbuster, to name a few things.
But even with all those efforts you can imagine quite some cleaning still had to be done after the music died and the party was over. I managed the teams of volunteers that were involved in that activity and participated very actively myself. The combination of sensibilisation, infrastructure, and workforce became pretty efficient: the picture that you see here is the day after a 3-day festival took place welcoming more than 5000 people, not before.
It was a very promising project to pursue, certainly because I was slowly but surely getting in touch with the bigger festivals. And I also started bringing the kids’ workshops at family events. I continued doing this even after I started as an engineer at Exel Technical Services. But at a certain moment, I simply had to let go…

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