Cape Town might be breaking the Open Streets book rules by linking up its agenda with street parties. According to was formally created in order to help shape and share an Open Streets agenda for the city. The discussion confirmed Cape Town could greatly benefit from a ciclovia-type event and the group agreed to plan for the roll out of another Open Streets in Cape Town using a major artery that connects different parts of the city. Nevertheless, it also became clear the raison d'etre of this campaign is not to develop an event or a series of events. Cape Town needs to open spaces more generally and the working group has embarked on the mission to identify the fundamental elements of a city with open streets.
The street parties taking place on Friday 2 November in Rondeboschwere a fortunate coincidence and the concept of Open Streets resonated strongly with the organisers. As Gill explained, the initiative aimed at neighbours getting to know each other and people coming out onto the street to enjoy the freedom of the shared space. Although not an open street or even an open party per se as only local neighbors took part in the festivities; the principle of creating hitherto inexistent links aligns in perfect unison with the ethos of Open Streets. Hearing of neighbours who had lived next to each other for more than a decade meeting for the first time was both inspiring and shocking at the same time. No wonder Cape Town struggles with community building and social cohesion; and yet what was most striking from this experience was to witness the genuine desire and yearning people have for such interaction. In Rondebosch, it only took Gill and Jean connecting with Shirley, the Manager for the Rondebosch City Improvement District (RCID)(who in turn communicated with the broader community) for 40 different individuals to come forward and start organizing their own street party. After a few phone calls to make sure security and police were alerted and some emails sharing ideas to the "party coordinators", street-party galore was put in motion. This is certainly the type of energy that can't be manufactured or stopped; only maximized. Indeed, as Gill and I walked from party to party on Friday evening, we started dreaming out loud what if, these street parties were just the preamble to an Open Streets day along the M5 one day!
And so the conquest continues. Does an Open Streets campaign call for more neighbourhood parties Does it align with park jams where graffiti and hip-hop colour public space Is it about improving the road infrastructure of those areas where open streets already happen Is it about linking up with the agenda of Complete Streets which in North America make up formal policy and cities like Johannesburg have started to incorporate. Is it about helping to create conducive space for the expression of political demonstrations and activist campaigns? Is it about the magic infecting the city creates for the expression of arts every year in Cape Town? Or is it about collecting information of what is already happening on the streets of Cape Town? I would like to think they all fit within Cape Town's definition but the jury is still out. A high order for the working group meeting in Langa next week no doubt!
 Working group members in alphabetical order: Diana Sanchez (HSRC); Howard Simms (Hammer Live Brands); Jennings Gail (Transport consultant, Cape Town Bicycle Map); Jill Greenberg (Communications consultant); Jodi Allemeier (Cape Town Partnership); Khalid Galant (South African Institute for Drug Free Sport); Lisa Kane (UCT, independent Transport consultant); Marcela Guerrero Casas (Open Streets activist); Marco Geretto (Urban planner, City of Cape Town); Marco Morgan (National Skate Collective); Philip van Ryneveld (Transport consultant); Rory William (independent urban planner, writer) Tony Elvin (Langa Quarter)