There’s nothing too eccentric about that among Flemish cycling enthusiasts, but Gussé has ridden the majority of those kilometres on a racing bicycle from 1926. On this bike, and in matching authentic outfit, he takes part in, among others, the cyclotourist races of the Paris-Roubaix and the Ronde van Vlaanderen, or Tour of Flanders, coming up this Sunday.
Flanders’ Vormingplus centres were created in 2004 to get people more involved in the social and cultural lives of their cities and regions. In Brussels, a fitting name posed the first challenge. “Vormingplus would not attract the multilingual population of this cosmopolitan city,” explains Cathelyne Van Overstraeten, Citizenne’s communication manager. “Citizenne emphasises the city life and mentions the Zenne River but also clarifies that we put citizens – people – first.”
“Though Turnhout is on the outskirts of Flanders, it has one big advantage on other provincial towns,” says actor, scriptwriter, director and our local guide Stany Crets, who was born and raised in the self-proclaimed “capital of the Kempen”.
“Because we were close to the border with the Netherlands, we could get in touch with culture that didn’t seep through elsewhere,” he explains. “Basically, it got my career started. And because we were far away from the centres of Flemish culture, we could stay a bit more edgy.”
Paris, Amsterdam, New York, Miami, Berlin, Barcelona, Copenhagen and Saint Petersburg are already home to similar enterprises. And, putting aside the issue of international competition, the Belgians themselves have long awaited such a museum.
“It was about time,” says MEM chief Guy Martens from across his desk, commanding the ground floor of the museum. “I don’t know why there wasn’t one already.”
MyMachine is a project that harnesses the creativity of both primary and secondary school pupils, as well as engineering students in college. Together they develop the most fantastic devices, which actually work. The purpose is to give students in Flanders the chance to think outside the box and help them realise that seemingly impossible undertakings can in fact be completed successfully through collaboration.
An in-depth article in the Flemish daily newspaper De Standaard on 3 December put the cat among the pigeons. It covered the lawsuit that has been filed by a few psychoanalysts in France trying to stop the release of a new documentary called Le Mur (The Wall). The film documents psychoanalytic therapy of autistic children in France, which focuses on the mother as being either too distant or not distant enough.
David Van Reybrouck In the beginning of 2011, when Belgium was in the midst of its deepest political crisis ever, many felt a sparkle of hope in the birth of the G1000. The initiative, in which 1,000 ordinary citizens gathered to discuss the future of the country, was the idea of Flemish writer and historian David Van Reybrouck. Over the past few years, Van Reybrouck has become a well-known voice in the media as a opinion maker on topics like the gap between politics and ordinary people and the inefficiency of the democratic system.
So what’s in a name? You call for a bus (bellen is “to call” in Dutch), preferably a day ahead and no less than two hours in advance. The call centre agent helps you make your reservation, and the bus will pick you up at the planned time, at the planned belbus stop. Based on reservations, a computer decides the most efficient itinerary for the bus assigned to this area, instead of it following a scheduled route as a normal bus would. Flanders has 131 belbus areas divided over the five provinces.
But above all, Dansercoer (photo, left) is known for his daring undertakings on both poles, and with the Antarctic ICE expedition, he proves that his ambition is increasing with his age.
Dansercoer, 49, has just set off on an attempt to set a world record for the longest-ever polar expedition without outside support or motorised aid. He and his sidekick, student Sam Deltour, are travelling with a sled over 6,000 kilometres across Antarctica in 100 days.
The gigantic engineering achievement that is the north-south line consists of six tracks of saturated railway traffic under a 2.8 kilometre-long tunnel and has always divided public opinion, just as it divides the city through its very heart. For two full years, several events and debates will take place alongside the famous rail line.
Few people are aware that the first-ever railway line on the European continent was on Flemish soil. It opened in 1835 and linked Brussels to Mechelen. At that time, King Leopold I had big plans for the young capital of this new nation.