We sat down with Tom Van Bogaert, one of the curators of BrusselBlogt, a Dutch-speaking Brussels blog platform. He told us more about this initiative and how it contributes to the sparkling Brussels blogosphere. 

1. Can you tell us a bit more about BrusselBlogt, when did it start and how many people are involved in it?

BrusselBlogt started in 2006 as a platform for Dutch-speaking bloggers in Brussels. The founder was photographer Peter Forret, who was inspired by an online initiative in Ghent: Gent Blogt. He gathered other enthusiastic writers and after several meetings at the bar and a lot of drinks, the blog began. Amazing that it still exists after so many years! Our colleagues of Gent Blogt stopped in 2015.

Of course, as time goes some people left and others joined us. I got in touch with the blog when I moved from Berlin to Brussels in 2007. Now I am one of the authors and I take care of the coordination and the final editing of the articles. We are a team of five to ten regular bloggers and we also publish a lot of guest contributions. Bloggers are free to choose their subjects as long as there is a link with Brussels. Residents and visitors can share their experiences and discoveries with each other. We are not a real news site. We prefer a more personal approach: opinions, reflections, reviews. Every week we choose the best pictures from Brussels. We’re active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Our main language remains Dutch, but especially on social media we have also followers who speak other languages. BrusselBlogt can be a good help to learn some Dutch, actually.

2. Your blog shares stories about city life, culture, interesting shops & restaurants but also critical notes about things that should be improved. Do you feel that bloggers are in a way also activists and contribute to the struggle for the better city?

Our point of view is that we relate with Brussels. We love the city and want to show that. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t criticize the city, on the contrary. Brussels can do better and we support improvements. We had blog posts about the difficulties of cyclists in Brussels, rubbish on the streets and the complexity of the political institutions.  Recently we shared the campaign of concerned parents fighting for a better air quality in schools.

It’s our small contribution to a better quality of life in our beloved city.

3. You are dominantly a Dutch-speaking blog site but you often interview other (English an French speaking) bloggers. Do you feel that, just like in real life, there are also ‘bubbles’ in the Brussels blogosphere and is there any way we could improve that situation?

Brussels is a super-diverse society with a lot of nationalities, cultures and languages. It is a real richness of the city. It’s true that we live in different bubbles and  we don’t interact enough with each other. Now, you can’t blame anyone for hanging around with other people who share the same language, interests, values. The blogosphere reflects real life. But it is very important to have an open spirit and to discover other communities and areas in Brussels. Collaborations between different blogs can help to to gather Brussels citizens with another background.

4. What are some of your favorite blogs in Brussels and if there should be one new blog/blogger (that currently does not exist) in our city – what should it be about? 🙂

I would suggest Bruzz. Okay, it is more like a news medium, supported by Flemish Community, and I am not fully objective, because I work as a freelance journalist for the magazine. But I think that they do a lot of efforts to bring great content in English and French. For example written interview and reviews, videos and radio shows. You can even receive the print magazine for free in your mailbox.

I like the variety of the Brussels blogosphere. Bloggers share their best addresses for art, music, food and fashion, tell you about their experiences , or just show ‘window cats’. I made a selection on http://www.brusselblogt.be/rubriek/special/blog-bxl.

What do I miss? Perhaps a humoristic view on Brussels, with satire, caricatures and funny videos. But I do like Belgian Solutions! 🙂