Antoine Struelens

Antoine Struelens

http://jyb.be/entrepreneur/antoine-struelens-2

Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesResponsible ConsumptionClimate Action

Role

I’m a bike entrepreneur, Molenbike initiative

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m a bike entrepreneur creating my own job through the development of bike services. The bike is not an aim in itself, but a tool to change the city. The Molenbike initiative combines different services such as: bike delivery (Brussels Bike Messenger & Booze Bike), guided tours and bike taxi (Brussels Tours), and mobility and public space projects (R&D). Molenbike works with different partners for every service it proposes, these services are combined to one another which gives Molenbike an advantage to tackle the broad mobility and life quality problems in and around Brussels. Molenbike also believes in Brussels’ and Molenbeek’s many potentials and wants to shift the negative image of this municipality. The project embeds the circular economy and fosters local consumption and production chains, as well as the sharing economy. 

One of my urban research projects is my plan to maintain the Herrman-Debroux in order to put a green promenade on top: http://bx1.be/auderghem/un-high-line-a-la-place-du-viaduc-hermann-debroux , http://www.tijd.be/opinie/column/Beste_Rudy.9805379-2337.art & http://www.bruzz.be/nl/actua/maak-van-herrmann-debroux-viaduct-een-groene-promenade

What competences would make you a good Generation T?

I consider myself more as a city philosopher and (urban) activist (urban instigator), than an entrepreneur. Biking and entrepreneurship are tools to achieve other goals like social justice and a better environment, we could call this wellbeing for all. I have many un-started projects and ideas, but I now start to realize some of them. I like to dream, but hands-on projects also fascinate me. Working together is the key to change, I’m taking part in different initiatives like Cyclehack: http://www.bruzz.be/nl/video/cyclehack-waarom-geen-fietsparkings-op-garagedaken, I’m joining different groups and often initiate FB groups in order to stay in touch. I recently joined Hackistan: http://hackistan.be, an open-source collective willing to change the world. If I could I would nominate them, a collective rather than an individual, as Generation T candidate. As a volunteer for Récup’ Kitchen and Commons Josaphat I’m also very interested in commons. I recently visited Mongolia as Belgian participant to the ASEFSU#20: http://asef.org/projects/themes/education/3728-20th-asef-summer-university-asefsu-, and I’m looking at their system of common rural-land ownership. Best practices are very interesting and South, West, East and North can learn from each other. Both the urban and rural commons, together with peer-to-peer and sharing economy (which isn’t platform capitalism) could really change our lives. My main motivation is to do my best to bring about positive change.

Give specific example(s) on how your projects or activities make a difference and initiate change.

I joined different projects: Generation Under Construction which brought together Congolese, Chinese and Belgian students around the SDGs; Commons Josaphat, a collective which is trying to build its own inclusive neighborhood or community on public land, Récup’ Kitchen: the first social food truck, and many more. Until recently, and still a bit today, I’m often frustrated by my inability to realize change. Right now, I have more confidence than before and I am prepared to fail and to confront my views. So even if I’m not 100% ready I go to the press with my viaduct plans or Molenbike initiative, because the timing is right and the opportunity is there. My aim is to be an actor in the Brussels mobility and public space debate in order to make the city more livable and social. Bike entrepreneurship and urban projects are adequate tools to reach those goals. On the viaduct (having written my master thesis on the production of urban highways: http://www.ffue.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Thesis-Antoine-Struelens.pdf) I’m very happy to influence this regional debate by proposing a 3rd way (preserving the infrastructure by changing it into a promenade) in the polarized debate between keeping everything as at is and destroying it for making an urban boulevard. For me the 21st century should be about recycling, reprogramming and reclaiming, rather than destroying. The social and environmental context can’t sustain the last option. Molenbike is a "Circular Academy" project.

Who inspired you? What made you first passionate about sustainability?

It’s already a long time I’m about sustainability, a studied urban studies (4Cities Euro-master: http://www.4cities.eu) in order to learn from other cities and different debates, problems and solutions there. Before that, I already volunteered and try to change things locally  by joining debates, protests or groups like the VUB student’s council. I also joined extra-muros projects before and during university, like the due to budget cuts scrapped project in abandoned Spanish villages, Models United Nations or projects by the University Center for Development Cooperation or VVN Youth on development cooperation, democracy or climate change (like the climate express train to Warsaw).  During the 4Cities master I did my best to be a local and all 4Cities I studied in and I still follow ongoing urban debates in different places. Sustainability goes through dialogue, but dialogue (or best practices) are not enough for sustainability. It sounds cliché, but it’s important to think global and act local by creating new identities, new ways to organize, a glocal realm. I would say that I’m both a sustainability theorist and practitioner. As an urban planner one of my influencers would be Jan Gehl.