It is the second time I come there gathering signatures for Julian Assange, and my first appreciation of the place is confirmed: it is a very open-minded “breeding ground” for political (in the broad sense of the word) discussions. Okay it might sound a bit arty farty or “gentry” at times, and it might still be more “educated middle class” than real “working class” – although at the surrounding social neighbouring blocks I had some interesting discussions as well with young residents.
But still. If there are some places or neighbourhoods where Leuven really is up to its “international” (in stead of “parochial”) imagebuilding, this is surely one of them. International students who are interested in politics, local people asking intelligent questions about the Wikileaks case, even those who didn’t want to sign did it with a wink or a joke. Someone was very friendly “I’m sorry man, I must admit that I don’t follow the policitics at all, I don’t know anything of it. But I give you my signature if you say that it is to help liberate someone who is unjustly in prison.” Okay it all takes time to gather signatures with the discussions in between, I more than often wish it would go faster. But there are probably no shortcuts… For those who want to know more about my motivations, I can refer to my walk of last month in an adjacent neighbourhood. (In fact I discovered that more than one citizen of the Astridlaan signed the petition in the meantime)
I probably romanticise a little bit, but since the place gives me a little and international and still not elitist feeling, I write this post in English (with a little bit hair growing on it). This is the link for tourists, as an alternative in case coastal trains towards Blankenberge or Ostend might be full.