Can you describe what you do?
I was born in Eeklo, a small town in East-Flanders. During the 90s, I moved to Mechelen for my first job post-bachelor job as a veejay at the music television station TMF (‘The Music Factory’). I’ve been living here ever since.
Nowadays, I teach creative copywriting at the Thomas More university college. It is very close to my home, so I can ride my bike to work. Apart from that, I work for Studio Brussels in our capital.
After work, I usually go for a run at the Vrijbroekpark, which is right around the corner as well. I don’t have a garden, so I pretend the park is my garden. It’s one of the many green places in Mechelen. I also love to go to the Vismarkt to really take in the amazing atmosphere. When the sun is shining, people eat and drink on the terraces outside, or just chill and have fun right next to the river bank of the Dyle.
How do you perceive Mechelen? In your view, what kind of city is it? Its people, its cultural landscape, its vibe? How does it compare to other, similarly-sized cities?
I find Mechelen to be a very romantic place. It is cosy, not too big, and it is surrounded by water which is always a big plus. The St. Rumbolds Tower, which never got finished, is our very own special cathedral in the middle of town. In fact, we are so spoiled with beautiful buildings that sometimes we can forget how pretty this place actually is! On top of that, there’s a lot of green in and around the city: the Kruidtuin, Mechels Broek, the Nekker sports field, Tivolipark, and the Vrijbroekpark with its lovely and unique rose garden.
What would you say is Mechelen’s main appeal as a city? What gives it its edge?
We now officially have the best mayor of the world, Bart Somers. He put Mechelen on the map internationally, and changed so many things for the better. He’s responsible for the way all citizens live together in harmony, whatever their origin or belief. I can truly say that, as a multicultural city, Mechelen should be an example for the rest of the world!
Mechelen is also a pioneer when it comes to its garbage disposal system. Apart from the traditional PMC waste bags, we have the pink garbage bags for other recyclable plastic like bags, foils, or toys. These are collected along with all the other household bins, so the city takes even better care of our environment.
How has Mechelen contributed to making you who you are today? What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?
During my whole career I’ve been living in Mechelen, because of its excellent location in Belgium. It is situated right in the middle of Flanders, so you can get everywhere fast and easy. Mechelen has always been my perfect home base.
On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city? What could it do better?
Really, nothing comes to mind!
To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Mechelen?
My friends are always welcome to stay at my place, but for those that require a bit of privacy, I can recommend the hotel Patershof. We could climb the St. Rumbolds Tower, visit some museums and the beguinage, take a stroll through a park called the Kruidtuin. We would then end the weekend with a nice dinner at the meat restaurant M-Eatery or the Cosma Foodhouse, a combined restaurant and shop located in an old bakery. Of course, we would have to wash down our meals with a local Gouden Carolus beer.
Can you talk to us about a local legend, a neighbourhood anecdote or urban myth that, to you, encapsulates the spirit of the city?
The nickname for the inhabitants of Mechelen is ‘maneblussers’, which translates to ‘moon extinguishers’. One night a long time ago, the moon shone so bright that it looked like the St. Rumbold’s Tower was on fire. The town’s people panicked and carried lots of buckets of water up the tower’s steps to extinguish it. So now every time there’s a full moon, we have to celebrate our love for the city we live in.