If you feel inspired to use the city as your stage but don’t know how, here are some helpful hints:
Take it outside
In China they do tai chi, in Argentina they tango. There is no reason why the activities we usually do in private spaces or indoors can’t happen in public spaces. Just because nobody has ever hosted yoga classes on the Grand Parade doesn’t mean it can’t be a great open air studio.
Make it temporary
Public space interventions don’t need to be permanent. What if you projected light onto one of of your favourite buildings or chalk as a cheap and temporary way to bring interest to forgotten corners of our city. Remember: If it’s not permanent, then it doesn’t need to be perfect – so put your inhibitions aside.
Turn it upside down
Don’t be restricted by the perceived function of a space. Make people look at a space differently by highlighting a specific aspect of it. Guerrilla actions like yarn-bombing draw attention to everyday objects that we take for granted.
Green it up
Why not plant some seedlings to brighten up the sidewalk or install some flowerboxes on the exterior of your building? Convert your sidewalk into a communal herb garden for your community.
We should all act as the custodians of the spaces we use and not assume that their upkeep is someone else’s responsibility. Do you spot a broken light or an overflowing litter bin? Then report it. Call the Central City Improvement District on 021 419 1881 (where relevant) or the City of Cape Town on 0860 103 089.
Dig deep into yourself (not your pockets)
Public spaces interventions don’t have to break the bank. Sometimes all that is needed a dose of innovative thinking and some elbow grease to transform a space from boring and neglected to pretty and purposeful.
Don’t go it alone
Get your entire group of friends together and have an urban picnic on Thibault Square. Are you part of a book club? Why not have your next meeting on a square and do a public reading. Team-up with neighbours to clean an alley and install better lighting.
Initiatives like Moonlight Mass or Infecting the City are great opportunities to show your support. People attract other people and the more frequently people use a space, the more they feel part of a community.
This article first appeared in the September 2012 issue of City Views: Cape Town as a creative space. Join the conversation on Facebook and keep up to date with the latest news on Twitter: @City_Views
- Jan van Reibeeck yarnbombed with South African socks for Heritage Day 2011 by local artist Isabeau Peep. Photo by Ed Basson
- CCID urban management crew at work in the city. Photo by Lisa Burnell
- Stop, Start, Continue, a post-it note intervention by Isgak Stemmet on St George’s Mall as part of Infecting the City 2011. Photo by Lisa Burnell