April 07, 2007

Saving Doel

There exists this tiny village in the polder, called Doel, renowned in Belgium for the nearby massive nuclear power station of the same name. The village is being emptied continuously of inhabitants because the Port of Antwerpen wants to extend its container dockyard area to include the land on which the village sits.
Now a campaign has started to save the town and turn it into an "art village", inspired by the campaign Love Difference.

Some background information from the press release [PDF] (it has versions in English and Italian):
Doel is a small, 700-year old village in the Belgian polder on the left bank of the river Scheldt. It is located at a half-hour ferryboat trip from the city/port of Antwerp. Due to planned expansions of the port of Antwerp, the Belgian Government decided in the late nineties that the village would be demolished to make room for a new container terminal and started an expropriations campaign. A majority of the 900 original villagers have since moved to other places. At present, the population of Doel consists of 216 people, including some 77 elderly villagers and 139 newcomers who moved into or squatted vacant houses.
Last year, the port authorities realized that the new container terminal would not be economically viable in the short term and the project has been indefinitely shelved. Everybody hoped that this development would breathe new life into the village, but the authorities are still sticking to their demolition plan. Of course, this situation has caused much bitterness among the local community.
The campaign has a website under construction with a link to a petition to support the campaign. Highly recommended.

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