On 25 February, Open Streets Cape Town (OSCT) invites all Cape Town's residents to use Main Road to carry out a giant indaba on the street.
The street as car-free public space can be a powerful platform for troubleshooting, problem solving and building solidarity. At Open Streets Main Road, we can use this environment to exchange ideas and questions that can empower us all to navigate the difficulties of the water crisis.
Cape Town is under great strain. And while apprehension continues to build, it is our responsibility to find ways of responding to the water crisis as a society. Open Streets can contribute to that process.
Building on the first Open Streets Main Road, which took place on 1 October 2017, Capetonians will have the opportunity to experience another car-free Main Road, through Observatory, Salt River, Woodstock and District Six (between Groote Schuur Drive and Russell Street).
As usual, the invitation is to move around the city differently by experiencing non-motorised and public transport by taking up the #AtoBChallenge. This time, however, we are inviting everyone to join a street conversation about water. This can be in the form of an activity, a showcase or simply a discussion.
One example is the "Hack the Water Crisis" event, co-hosted by the Cape Town Science Centre, which will coincide with Open Streets Main Road. The two-day event, on 24 and 25 February 2018, will bring people together to share information, develop new technologies, ask the important questions and, find and share DIY solutions that work for the average citizen.
Julie Cleverdon, director of the Cape Town Science Centre, says: “We are convening the hackathon to harvest designs and identify promising water conservation and harvesting technologies”.
Stop Reset Go is co-hosting the hackathon. Its coordinator, James Gien Varney-Wong, adds: “The aim is to develop the viable solutions into real manufacturable open-source designs that can be locally produced, but also shared around the globe in a cosmo-localised design commons.”
Louise Naudé of WWF South Africa suggests “With the coming shutdown of taps in Cape Town, if you have a car, will you want to be feeding your radiator from your precious water ration? Give yourself a chance to try out various public transport modes once, and see if you might like to use it just once a week. Fifteen people in one minibus is one radiator-full, instead of fifteen radiators of private cars. And you’re not washing your car at all, of course!” Go to www.wwf.org.za/bucketlist and scroll down for WWF’s Wednesday Water Files with accurate guidelines on key issues such as Day Zero preparation, boreholes, and sanitation.”
Jodi Allemeier, programme lead at the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership, says: “There is a great opportunity in convening people together in some basic ways. Open Streets can be a great platform. On one level, that means business, civil society, NGOs, faith-based groups and so on getting together to exchange information, identify needs, monitor progress, support communities and establish some level of predictability and equality in the system. I believe that this is starting to happen and will ramp up significantly.”
One of the big fissures that has become apparent during this period is the distance between our local government leaders and citizens. Thus, engagement between citizens and authorities is also crucial and this will be a unique opportunity to create a conducive environment for that.
Marcela Guerrero Casas, managing director of OSCT, says: "In a city like Cape Town, where divisions run deep, we need to start by creating the type of spaces that encourage and nourish solidarity. Open Streets has successfully created this in the past. Let’s maximise it!"
For interviews and all other media inquiries, contact Marcela Guerrero Casas at 072 2146 736 or at email@example.com.
Photo by Rory Williams