Some participants arrived by foot, others on bicycles, a scooter and yes, also by car. The group itself was just as diverse in its make up; from a City councillor to a homeless woman who joined us after recognising a community member in the crowd, we were off to experience this part of Woodstock in a different way.
The discussion started with the opportunity this street offers for rolling out a great Open Streets day. Issues raised ranged from the strategic location as a main artery that communicates the importance of mobility in Cape Town, to the richness in cultures and architecture on the street. Some shared ideas about how side streets can be activated ensuring they don't become just parking lots while others raised the opportunity and need to use this to adress the very difficult issues Woodstock faces at the moment. As a resident aptly put it Open Streets can provide a safe, neutral space for discussions about the future of Woodstock.
The challenge of course becomes not only overcoming the logistical requirements of the road closure, but ensuring different communities are involved in the planning and roll out of activities. As one of the participants pointed out, many residents in Woodstock already practice Open Streets and there are existing initiatives we can build on. From local groups like the Woodstock Community Police Forum to graffiti campaigns, there are residents working on transforming their street. Open Streets as an organisation can serve as a catalyst for those existing agendas; not only on Open Streets days, but also through advocacy campaigns.
The walk ended with a discussion around those opportunities for long term change; from an Open Streets Policy for Cape Town to the engagement with different departments of the City that can help drive the agenda of a healthier, sustainable, cohesive and creative Cape Town.