Axiom-inspired Belgian News Network Draws Accomplished Freelancer

Axiom-inspired Belgian News Network Draws Accomplished Freelancer

News makers combining their strengths to empower through the news process will help create the world we all want to live in, says Lien Van Laere

Throughout her 10 years of working as a freelance journalist, Lien Van Laere sought to make her work “life-giving” by  sculpting out the “possibility, beauty and power” that already existed in whatever she was storying.

It's this appreciative approach that can shape a better world, says Lien, who is also a passionate believer in the power of words and individuals to create change.

  Lien Van Laere

She had no idea a whole community existed with notions similar to hers until a friend mentioned a news network being formed in the country.

Last year Belgian entrepreneur and Appreciative Inquiry (AI) practitioner Griet Bouwen launched Axiomnieuws Belgium, an initiative inspired by Axiom News Canada.

Axiomnieuws has provided services on behalf of Cordium, Belgian social housing organization; Tourism Flanders; the Flemish Platform for Social Economy (VOSEC) and an agency for government staff. It is also involved in a project envisioning a new future for Flanders' education.

This past year, Griet extended an invitation for others to join the initiative. Participants commit to a co-created manifesto that outlines the intent of their effort and how every exchange and activity members undertake aligns with that mission. 

“We share so much common hope and energy, also struggling with similar issues such as how to take care of ourselves,” says Griet. “By co-operating together, we want to merge our energy to create a strong flow for Axiomnieuws.”

Lien was attracted to Axiomnieuws first and foremost by the resonance she found with her own journalism approach.

  Griet Bouwen

Attending a workshop on generative journalism delivered by Axiom News CEO and founder Peter Pula in Amsterdam in the spring of this year, Lien was further inspired. She went on to research the change approach Appreciative Inquiry that shapes part of Axiom's approach and then “things evolved quickly from there.”

Lien has joined the three Axiomnieuws meetings that have convened the now seven network members, including several journalists, “change agents” and a “learner,” from across the country. She is also writing for several Axiomnieuws Belgium projects.

Currently, she's most energized to see the possibilities that unfold as those involved in the network share ideas, feedback and support one another.

She's convinced their work is stronger as the rich diversity of strengths and viewpoints represented through the network is brought to bear on their common cause. Even in crafting interview questions, she's been drawn by the robust output and energy that is generated when they work together, Lien says.

“If we can continue with our group to reveal strengths  and possibilities within networks and within people, and if we can keep sowing seeds and watering the seeds that are already existing by asking people the right questions, I think we can really add something of value to the world that we would all love to see come into reality,” says Lien, reflecting on her highest hopes for the network.

The social and economic transition afoot in her country and beyond is fertile with exciting possibility, she adds. It would only bloom and accelerate through this interview and news process that seeks to both inform and inspire.

“One word that is really essential for me is empowerment and sparking the feeling in people that they can make a difference, even in small ways and that we're not dependent on big structures per se to generate change” says Lien.

“There is so much we can do ourselves if we put our hopes and our dreams together and if we look at what works and how we can make that grow together.”

-- More to Come

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Michelle Strutzenberger

Generative Journalist


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