No one said Brussels makes sense. On the contrary, this ad-hoc approach makes Brussels fun (and sometimes challenging). Let me explain.
When I first moved to Brussels I had to choose a ‘commune’. Brussels is namely a city made up of 19 communes. Are they something like ‘neighbourhoods’? Are they something like ‘arrondissements’? Are they something like ‘zones’? Yes, yes and yes. And more. Communes are almost mini-cities in themselves all making up what we call Brussels. To confuse everyone there is of course Brussels the city we all live in, but there is also Brussels commune.
So far I lived in 5 different communes, all having their own individual style. I studied in Auderghem. I jogged in Schaerbeek. I worked in Ixelles. I gardened in Uccle. I owned in Saint Gilles. And with the local (commune!) elections happening this weekend I thought I’d share with you 19 ‘commune’ quirks I think every commune has:
- a council, a communal executive, and a mayor. Times 19.
- an individual governance plan
- its own communal schools, crèches, sports centres and cultural centres
- a ‘maison communale’ or ‘stadthuis’ – basically the city hall. Some communes drew the winning ticket there like Brussels-City, Schaerbeek, Saint-Gilles. Others less impressive.
- its own election in October 2012
- … and way too many politicians per commune.
- a commune tax – and trust me there is a big difference between communes …
- a double name in French and Flemish which are not always the same (are you looking for Ixelles or Elsene?)
- a bi-lingual commune website
- its own postcode
- a distinct flag
- and hence its own historical past and a coat of arms
- 13. (bad luck!)
- and you can learn about all this in the commune newsletter which all publish
- a parking system for commune residents
- a separate ‘renovation’ scheme
- a weekly local market
- and an annual fair
- something unique to offer to its residents J
.Talk about overdoing it.
.Seriously. I’m an expat and I know a total of 5 politicians personally (!)
What are the quirks of your Brussels commune?
this blog post also appeared on Fans of Flanders