The first few weeks in our new house were a discovery period. We tried to meet the different social organizations active in Mariaberg, to get ourselves known to our neighbors and we took part in various social activities in the “buurtcentrum” (the neighbourhood community centre).
Children in Mariaberg
We then quickly realized that there were many children in the neighborhood that didn’t have the chance to take part in extracurricular activities. Because the three of us had experience as scouts leaders in Belgium, we decided to start the “Kinderen Natuur Club Mariaberg” (Children and Nature Club). Every other Sunday, we would meet a group of around 6 kids and play games. The games would always be centered around climate change.
Later, we moved to what would become our main project: a community chicken-coop. The idea was sparked by my friend Arthur’s deep passion for chickens. More seriously, we realized that bringing animals to the neighborhood was a great way to bring people closer to nature as well as to use the empty field in front of our house.. Although the project sounded crazy at first, people slowly began to see the benefits of having something living on this empty field. We took part in the “We build this city” contest by CODE043 and, we won! This was the start of ‘The Kippen of Mariaberg’ initiative. With the 4000 euros we gathered at CODE043, we started building a chicken coop.
Building a community
Through our “building days”, we managed to get the support of different families living in Mariaberg, and I have been able to observe that the feeling of belonging to a community is strengthened by really building something, all together. The plan is to have these families “adopt a chicken” and to organize a chicken-festival with the whole neighborhood.
If there is one thing to take from this experience, it is that even if your project sounds crazy, as long as you truly believe in it, so will others.