Focus on Friends of the Earth Belgium (Wallonia and Brussels) – Voluntary simplicity in the public space
02 September, 2013
Friends of the Earth-Belgium (Wallonia-Brussels) has been an active "popular education" movement since 1976. Our goal is to help people change their way of life to transform society and bring about a sustainable and equal world.
For that reason, we've been actively promoting the idea of "voluntary simplicity" for the last ten years. Voluntary simplicity means taking the decision to live more simply, consume less and better, and to work less and live more. Everyone is free to chose his or her own way of life.
Besides, our local groups organize actions linked to water use, gardens and orchards, dry toilets, energy saving, anti-nuclear mobilizations, and many more.
Learn more about Friends of the Earth Wallonia and Brussels
In 2013, we organized several awareness raising actions about "voluntary simplicity" in public spaces. The main goal was to create a new approach with the greater public. Instead of always working with people who are already convinced by our vision, we wanted to get closer to people we don't often meet in the course of our normal activities. To create a nice relationship, we wanted to be positive, open-minded, original and propose something concrete (not just talk). We also wanted to pay attention, to listen to people's realities and not be prescriptive by saying "you have to do such and such."
Three local groups organized and filmed actions in their regions. It took some planning beforehand, but we ultimately saw all of these actions become a reality and even managed to see some sun (which is not easy in Belgium!)
Liège, Saturday June 8. Volunteers organized a workshop at a car park in the commercial area of the city. People were invited to make a natural, handmade deodorant that they could keep and bring back home. We also asked them for their personal definition of "a simple life" and captured some of these on video (in French).
The local group from Namur held an event at the famous Maredsous Abbey on Sunday the 7th of July. The public were encouraged to make their own ‘land art’ using natural materials that they found in the vicinity. The group then also made and distributed a natural and homemade drink using dandelion flowers, which was greatly appreciated on that sunny summer day.
Dolhain (Verviers), Sunday July 14. The local group organized a public "donnerie" on the parking space of the local fire station. "Donnerie", comes from the verb "to give." It's like a second hand sale, but with everything for free! Some people come to give and others come to take. You might think that people would abuse this system, but that certainly wasn't the case that day. All the participants were pleased to give or to receive, in a nice convivial way.
Robin Guns of Amis de la Terre said “We are delighted with the success of the local group events and we believe they represent some of the different aspects of the voluntary simplicity attitude. The positive reactions of the public, great media coverage and, most of all, the unique experiences created ensured this vital message will be taken into plenty of homes. We are already looking forward to the next one!”
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