Winning communities

by DOUGLAS SCHORR

PHOTO/Mashable

The author argues that arable land that is used for entertainment and other recreational activities in South Africa could be used for agriculture to feed millions of South Africans who cannot afford a decent meal. Trying to “safeguard” the interests of the middle class by keeping that land for leisure instead of using it for the general good will not protect the interests of the middle class either.

Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) housing has been on the cards for as long as the new government has been in. And nothing near targets have been met. More than that, the continued unequal geography of South Africa’s cities is indicative of the greater crisis facing the country, which needs a far greater solution. Cape Town International Airport is now surrounded by the ever-growing ocean of Khayelitsha’s shacks; proof of how the country has split between those who make and bake the economy and those who, forcibly excluded, take. It is into that split that the nation as a whole will slide, unless something is done.

Consider this

What if we started in the Cape’s middle class suburb of Durbanville? On the 465-metre-6th hole of the golf course we build a 44-storey, 22 units per floor, apartment block. Not the standard concrete tower, instead we craft a “Boeri vertical forest”[[i]], an indigenous garden that sucks CO2 and blows out oxygen – a food producing, bird and useful insect haven.[[ii]]

The lakeside common on the Welgemoed border could house Block II, and below Table Mountain more, and more! Cape units would draw families (mostly) from Khayelitsha. Suddenly those that work together daily, oftentimes inside each other’s homes, would live together too.

Poor facts

“The train of life is there, explained my gardener of years ago. “You know just enough to know you must catch that train! You fight so hard, throwing off ankle chains, gathering money, hug and run but it’s chugging away. Well-wishers exclaim, ‘there will be another to Johannesburg.’ Of course you make it, the resolve is there, but the onward links north, south, east and west at the-great-interchange-station have left … you are always one-more missed train behind.”

Radicals, left and right, argue that there are too many people, and something needs to be done. True, so let’s provide opportunities, educate and train because those “too many” are here already.

Instead the government has chosen to grow more isolated squatter camps; far away cheap RDP housing schemes and poorly supported “townships” (an economist’s smokescreen word) where the poorest compete with the poorest for the only prize on offer – best poorest.

It is time to act on the notion that the Intelligent Quotient of children born in the normal range in the Bell Curve changes for better or for worse, influenced by the environmental-living conditions in which they grow.

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