Contrary to what populists and extremists are often saying or suggesting, Brussels is not place which wants to dictate others what to do. It’s a vibrant city with rich history, multicultural atmosphere, Belgian spirit, and seats of institutions symbolising European diversity and unity. There is no better place that could help connect local Hi!ke concept with the EU level. It happened on June 28, 2023, and brought together 25 media makers, active citizens, politicians, and representatives of minorities.
The participants gathered in front of the Royal Palace of Brussels, which is the place where the King of Belgians – Philippe – works. Seat of the King Baudouin Foundation, which supports many projects around Belgium, but also abroad, is located behind the palace. It focuses on and helps other organisations with fundraising as well. Hence it was useful for participants to learn about opportunities that they can use as well to promote quality media and help minority voices to be more represented in public.
At this first stop of the Hi!ke, the participants got familiar with Belgian monarchy and political structure of the county. They also learnt about country’s colonial history and how it is reflected on today in the public discourse. Discussion was also about minorities living in Belgium nowadays and how they interact and integrate with the majority population.
Tour then continued around house where Audrey Hepburn, famous American actress, was born. It was surprise for participants to hear she was actually not from the United States. Next main stop was, however, in the quarter called Matongé, where many African restaurants are located. Participants learnt that basically every part of Brussels is home to a certain group of people coming from other countries and regions, that it really is a melting pot of cultures.
Then the group walked around main building of the European Parliament and learnt about funding opportunities this institution offers in relation to media. After lunch at Place Flagey, another famous location, the tour ended near Berlaymont, which is the main seat of the European Commission.
There, the participants talked about various funding opportunities and afterwards they visited squat where many refugees are staying. They and people managing this place shared experiences with public administration and media. The discussion also highlighted what media can do better in terms of coverage of topics of migration and minorities.
European Dialogue was happy to be involved in the preparation of the tour and to participate on the spot as well. Its team would like to thank the coordinator of the Media for Citizens Story Lab project, Media4Change from Lithuania, and the project partners, StampMedia from Belgium, ICNM from Austria and Mladiinfo Montenegro for the great Hi!ke experience.
Media for Citizens Story Lab is a project aiming to empower media makers to connect with their audience, highlight important topics, and move media forward together. This project has been funded by the EU programme Europe for Citizens.
Title picture: pixabay.com, dimitrisvetsikas1969