On a hot Sunday morning, at the height of a January heatwave, my friend Julie dragged me off to Bree street to experience ‘community building and healthy recreational activity’ in the form of Open Streets Cape Town.
Reluctantly, I went, with no real grasp of the intent behind the event – I returned enlightened, sunburned and spent! Open Streets is a platform for change, where people can gather en masse and integrate organically, just by interacting in a space that’s usually off limits.
The Open Streets concept started way back in the seventies in Colombia where streets were closed off each Sunday to accommodate skaters, runners and cyclists. It’s since evolved to embrace all aspects of urban habitation. Enrique Peñalosa, erstwhile mayor of Bogota said it best: “Public space is for living, doing business, kissing, and playing. Its value can’t be measured with economics or mathematics; it must be felt with the soul.”
If that doesn’t speak directly to the Capetonian in you, then nothing will! Many countries have subsequently followed suit, with Open Streets events taking place in cities all over the world, including our beloved Cape Town.
To use the streets for expression…
For safe social interaction…
For job creation and local economic activity…
And to involve the community in choosing how they wish to utilize the public spaces within their city.
OSCT truly embodies this belief – follow them on Facebook to keep track of their dedication towards personalizing the urban setting. Or head to Mitchell’s Plain Open Streets this Sunday, April 02, and embrace the space at your own pace.
Tips to make your Open Streets experience a happy one:
- Cycle, walk or use public transport to get there
- Stay hydrated
- Protect yourself from the sun
- Unless you’re part of a street art project, dress for comfort
- Get there early to secure a decent vantage point at your favourite pavement hangout
- Support local enterprise
- Bring a camera or make sure your phone battery is fully charged
- Drag your friends along
- Feel it with your soul