For its 6th Laudato Si Reflection Day, European Laudato Si Alliance (ELSIA) decided to focus on “skills for ecological conversion”.
Therefore, 30 people representing 12 European catholic organizations gathered in Anderlecht (near Brussels) in order to study a new project focusing on integral ecology called “Rafael”. This former Catholic hospital is being transformed into a social village – with social housing, a shelter for the homeless, a social day center, a facility for the disabled, a social distribution of organic food, a social laundry and the purpose, to host many lay and christian organizations, to be open to the neighborhood with a party room !
52 apartments will be ready by October 2023 and rely on the system of “social housing agencies”, which helps apartment owners to renovate and to rent apartments to vulnerable people without financial risks and without being in charge of house maintenance.
The whole project will be very energy efficient (sometimes almost 80 centimeters of insulation), powered by solar panels on its roof and with a 20 000 liters.
After the visit, the participants discovered «Bel Mundo», a social restaurant where young adults find the opportunity to receive on the job training for a career in the hospitality sector. Training is also open to individuals who want to learn a new skill. The restaurant also leads an urban gardening project and uses the produce it grows in their restaurants.
Finally, at the Vicariate of Brussels a World Café discussion co-animated by CIDSE and LSM gave participants the opportunity to reflect on important skills needed in our own organizations to bring Laudato Si to life in housing and food systems. Inputs were given by Mijarc (european organization of young rural catholics), Eglise verte (French label to green churches), Ecokerk (flemish catholic organization in ecology), Laudato Si institute in Oxford,
This made us dig deeper on how faith based organizations can contribute to the development of the “soft skills” necessary for the ecological conversion and the green transition.
The conclusion of the day was given by professor Johan Verstraeten, professor of theological Ethics at the Faculty of Leuven.