Building something in Saint-Josse

I’m lucky enough to be well paid for most of my work. But our skills as photographers are also in demand from people and groups who cannot afford to pay for them at all. Volunteering gives me opportunities that I would never otherwise have – to practise my craft, to learn and to make new friends.

Saint-Josse is a crowded, culturally diverse inner-city area of Brussels. Over ten days at the beginning of July I was invited to document a community project run for local people in the tiny Park Saint François by Ten Noey, Saint-Josse’s Dutch-language cultural centre. 2019 is the third year they have organised Bouwen aan de Zomer (Building the Summer), and it attracted a lot of people.

The project brought a library (housed in a couple of old refridgerators), a bar and lunchtime catering to the park. Ongoing activities included construction in wood, mosaic and print-making. A tea-dance, a hip-hop performance and a concert by a young Tunisian group were special highlights.

Things will start up again for another ten days at the end of the summer on 24 August. I won’t be able to cover the whole ten days, but I’m looking forward to being there for the first few of them. Ten Noey has selected ten of my photos from which they will make very large weather-proof prints to display in the park during this second period. I’m looking forward to seeing how the project’s users respond to the images of themselves.