Photo courtesy Quentin Houben and Pierre Guilluy of Slide Up at Europe Refresh
Attracted by a newspaper writeup on a great vegetarian foodtruck that is becoming a Brussels institution (Sinstreetfood, their Facebook page), we spent Saturday afternoon at the cultural center of Les Halles de Schaerbeek. We came for the food (a delight, even though we're not vegetarians), but we stayed for Europe Refresh, the second edition of a unique crowdfunding event.
In which some 44 young Europeans (a good number, naturally, from Belgium and France, but from as far afield as Serbia and Canada) pitched their projects for a chance at some in-person financing. It was put on by the European crowdfunding people, KissKissBankBank.com.
The idea of bringing such an impressive collection of talent under one roof is very appealing, and from the outset we were amazed at the creative genius arrayed around the space of the former indoor market.
From authors to inventors to entrepreneurs, the range of projects was astounding. Some are personal: Serbian Gorana Jovanovic and her whimsical short film about Laika, the Soviet space dog; photographer Johanne Verbrockhaven's discovery of the lost Icelandic world of Hornstrandir.
Others are for the greater good: www.mainsdoeuvres.org, which creates participative cultural centers using recycled materials from building sites. Antiheroes.org and their "Failure School" (they also have something called "F**kup Nights") want us to learn from mistakes, "because a failure shared is not as likely to be repeated."
Ever thought of what happens to the tons of coffee grounds from all the cafés that churn out those cups of expresso? Well, "Champignon de Bruxelles" has, and they'd like to recycle those coffee grounds as a substrate to grow shitake mushrooms, currently imported largely from China. Two young Belgian graduates (who also studied at Clemson University in South Carolina) have come up with an impressive business plan.
I could go on. Best thing is to go to the project list, poke around those that strike your interest, and poney up a few Euros. It's an investment in a better future.