Leuven is a city citizens make for themselves

Leuven celebrates citizens standing up for their neighbourhoods

Leuven celebrates citizens standing up for their neighbourhoods

The city has been supporting citizens' initiatives, which beautify neighbourhoods with community gardens or street libraries

On Monday, Leuven celebrated 20 years of the successful Kom op voor je district (Stand up for your district) programme. Since the year 2000, the Belgian city has offered a way for citizens to take an active role in the beautification of their districts through low-cost local projects, such as community gardens, benches and greenery.

The city wants to celebrate the anniversary with a lecture, outlining the social benefits of the project in bringing communities together and offering a cosy local spot during the protracted months of lockdown. Another point of the event will be highlighting some of the most successful projects through Kom op voor je district.

A mural made through Kom op voor je district, Source: City of Leuven 

Taking ownership of the city

‘Stand up for your district’ is an ideal way for local authorities to help citizens reclaim their living spaces and build a tight community with their neighbours. At least, that was the idea, back in the year 2000, according to a press release.

When the project was initially launched, the city offered small financial aid and a space in the pilot districts, where citizens could implement their projects. At first, results were rather limited, as only 10 projects were submitted.

Community library made through Kom op voor je district, Source: City of Leuven 

But the number steadily grew, year after year while authorities expanded the available areas, as well as the financial aid offered to applicants. Now, the budget for Kom op voor je district is around two million euros.

These 20 years have resulted in 215 unique projects, such as murals, meeting places and even a neighbourhood cookbook. There are 23 neighbourhood vegetable gardens, 41 community bookcases, extra greenery and one community orchard.

Leuven Alderman for Neighbourhood Activities Bieke Verlinden was quoted in a press release, saying: “All these neighbourhood projects enhance the pleasant living together in our city in their own way. In the past corona year, Leuven has reaped the benefits of the neighbourhood connections that have grown out of this over the past two decades. Our city was and is extra strong thanks to the solidarity that we have nurtured together for twenty years.”



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