Co-creating the city in which we want to live
The first months of 2014 have stimulated wide-ranging debates on how to create an engaged society of active Capetonians across social and economic barriers. The Cape Town Partnership started the year with a dialogue on this very issue – asking if we, as Capetonians, can co-create the type of city in which we want to live. During the dialogue it became clear that active citizenship is one of the most important steps towards a healthy society – especially in a growing democracy like South Africa.
As the CEO of an organisation committed to putting people at the centre of our work, I repeatedly ask myself the question: how do we inspire consistently engaged citizens, people who take an interest in the world around them on an ongoing basis? Cities are sources of potential conflict, between government and citizens, between different citizen groups, and between citizens and special interests such as property developers. I truly believe that greater citizen participation in civic affairs can reduce these sources of conflict. But how do we give citizens across social and economic barriers the necessary, practical tools of being active and engaged in Cape Town? Read my thoughts on the topic.
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- Explore the topic of co-creating Cape Town in our latest newsletter.
A highlight of my daily drive into the Cape Town CBD is the sight of school children walking to their morning classes. (Tens of thousands of scholars and students come to the city centre each day, many of them travelling from township to town via public transport.) I see them, on the way to my office on Bree, at the corner of Waterkant Street, as they make a beeline from the Cape Town Station to the pedestrian bridge on the Fan Walk, en route to schools in Green Point and Sea Point.
Icons or eyesores? These are just two ways of seeing the unfinished flyovers of Cape Town’s Foreshore, and for decades people have debated their limits and possibilities – and those of the foreshore more generally. What is Cape Town’s sense of the space? The Cape Town Partnership explores the history and potential of this desolate, windswept part of the city.
While you are reading this I am in London – sharing lessons from Cape Town at The London Summit of Leaders, where city representatives from around the world – Angola, Bangladesh, Barbados, China, Denmark, Qatar, Germany, Indonesia, Turkey and others – are debating some of the most complex issues related to the management of cities in an age of accelerating urbanisation.
The Cape Town Partnership has asked Rory Williams Cape Times columnist and writer on urban issues, to look at our work and see what he finds. His ‘outside view’ will be presented in a series of articles that will explore the human side of our projects. We hope they will stimulate some necessary conversations. This is the second in the series.