Approximately thirty passionate residents from different areas of Cape Town, but particularly Woodstock and Observatory joined our first official Friends of Open Streets gathering on Wednesday night at the Woodstock Town Hall to discuss how we can all make a network of Open Streets a reality in Cape Town.
The evening started with the screening of a short inspiring video capturing some of the great moments and spaces created on the streets by people themselves on 25th of May (our first Open Streets Day). After learning about the process behind this memorable day, most friends were surprised to hear the journey had started over a year ago and that the engine behind Open Streets is a small group of unpaid volunteers. Clearly, beyond the excitement, putting on an Open Streets day does require great effort, resources and more importantly the enthusiasm of key partners and local communities/residents.
From filling in a highly complicated events application to identifying the right location for portable toilets and rubbish bins, Opening Streets is a labour intensive affair (yet a rewarding experience for citizens wanting to be part of positives changes). On the day, it all seemed easy and fun, but without the amazing work and commitment of the Observatory Improvement District, energetic volunteers coming from Cape Flats communities and the financial resources the Cape Town Partnership helped bridge, none of it would have happened.
Open Streets Day on Lower Main was only the first test, which Cape Town passed with flying colours; and so on Wednesday night we started to discuss how to implement the dream of longer Open Street Days in early October as part of Transport Month! Since part of the vision is to utilize the energy from the 25 May, to start growing into a longer network that will connect and involve more communities, we will have a Talking Streets session along Malta Road on Sunday 23 June, at 11 am. The first step in that process is always consultations and getting people on board, so come and share your ideas!
All we need now is to maximize the energy generated amongst our new friends and recruit more so resources can be pooled together. Though money will be needed, resources contributed in kind are essential too, and we already have Paul who agreed to consolidate our database, Amiena who volunteered her graphic design skills to help us with some flyers, and her partner to help us get a printer willing to give a discount. Most importantly the Woodstock Community Outreach Forum announced to the room that they take up the challenge to have an Open Streets Day in Woodstock! We welcomed this and will be there to support them in their efforts.
Despite the limited financial resources, With the City of Cape Town on board and citizens activated, Open Streets counts on unlimited social capital. This wealth can take us a long way as far as dreams go.