Act One: Getting Started

During our first week in Cape Town we spent time visiting parks to inspire ideas, getting to know the area in which we will be working and the people with whom we will be working with during the 7 weeks. As we started our week, we took a self-guided tour of Green Point Urban Park. Though it is not the area we will be working in, the park has a lot of ideas to offer and contains relevant features to our pathway development project such as a biodiversity garden and the incorporation of social and ecological history. We also visited Company’s Garden later in the week, which provided us with a look into a historical Capetonian garden.

The majority of our first week though was a lot of relationship building and meetings. We met Sheila and Ronell, two Maitland Garden Village leaders who are essential to the project, and had the chance to get to know them as they gave us tours of the village and the desire lines along the Black River. A key part of the week was meeting with our sponsor liaisons, Megan Lukas, Crispin Barrett, Juan Nomdo, and Clive James. We were able to give our liaisons, Sheila, and Ronell a sense of the research we gathered during our preparation phase and begin discussing the goals for the project, as well as the immediate challenges to address. Through meetings, tours, and Village Day we had the opportunity to better understand Maitland Garden Villagers, as well as their concerns and aspirations for the pathway.

Scene One Summary

We spent time walking through Green Point Urban Park for inspiration for our pathway project. When we arrived we were pleasantly surprised by a biodiversity garden and a beautifully laid walkway. There were signs and sculptures that told the history of the indigenous cultures. It was a useful excursion as many of these pathway elements, especially the garden aspect, will be important to the Black River pathway. On our way out we had the opportunity to speak with the guard for the park and he provided insight on the creation of the park and offered access to the park’s blueprints if we needed them to assist with our pathway planning and design.

  • Presented relevant ideas and inspirations for our project
  • Presented ideas on how a multi-faceted pathway can look
  • Facilitated a potential resourceful contact

Read more of Scene One here.

Scene Two Summary

Our meeting in Maitland Garden Village allowed us to meet with and get to know Ronell and Sheila, who we will be working with closely during our project. Sheila gave us a brief tour and history of the village as we walked to Ronell’s house, where we briefly discussed our plans for the project and they were able to tell us some of their hopes for the project. Through this interaction though, we learned more about the community, than our project, which is important as we must understand the villagers’ desires and needs so that we can best help them. At the same time, it seemed that Sheila and Ronell had very general plans for the project and still did not know exactly our role.

  • Learned about Maitland Garden Village
  • Built report with Sheila, Ronell, and community members
  • Began to see that an initial challenge could be defining our explicit role in the project

Read more of Scene Two here.

Scene Three Summary

Lorenzo, Sheila’s nephew, gave us a tour of the desire lines along the Black River and discussed with us some of the issues with the pathway, such as the removal of a pedestrian bridge that allowed villagers and kids to get across the M5 highway to get to the hospital, the city, and other important locales. We began to get a better sense of how we might fit into the pathway’s development when discussing such issues with Lorenzo. We got the sense that working on a petition or a proposal for re-introducing a pedestrian bridge or an alternative could be a starting point for our project.

  • Began to understand the geographical boundaries of where we will work
  • Learned about the challenges the villagers face in regards to the pathway
  • The pedestrian bridge became apparent as the potential initial focus of the project

Read more of Scene Three here.

Scene Four Summary

We held our first team meeting with our sponsors from the City of Cape Town’s Department of Environmental and Heritage Resource Management in the centre of Maitland Garden Village (MGV.) It was beneficial to have multiple stakeholders in the pathway’s development, including our sponsors, a member of the Two Rivers Urban Park (TRUP) Committee, two community leaders, and our team with our advisors, attend this meeting. The purpose of this meeting was to present research our team accomplished prior to arriving in Cape Town and discuss the scope, expectations, and deliverables of our project. We decided a pathway proposal that established its need and incorporated potential features while showcasing MGV’s heritage would be the best fit for our project.

  • Met with sponsors, community leaders, and advisors
  • Presented prior research
  • Discussed scope of pathway proposal

Read more of Scene Four here.

Scene Five Summary

Maitland Garden Village (MGV) community leaders, Ronell and Sheila, took our team for a tour through Oude Molen Eco Village (OMEV.) We were able to get a feel for the layout of the buildings in OMEV as they compared to MGV and hear a little about the history there.  Ronell and Sheila introduced us to four interesting OMEV community members, Dixie, Joseph, Nathan, and Jonno, each playing a different, important role in OMEV and/or MGV. Dixie lives in OMEV and works with MGV’s Green Light Project’s youth, teaching them singing and dancing. Joseph worked with last year’s WPI Oude Molen redesigning team who had some helpful insight into working in these communities. Nathan grew up in MGV and has since moved to OMEV where he works at the horse stables. Lastly, we met Jonno, who lives in OMEV and runs a sustainable farm. Jonno will be a useful contact as we develop the agricultural aspect of our project.

  • Toured Oude Molen Eco Village with Ronell and Sheila
  • Met community members whom are involved in OMEV and MGV
  • Developed roots for relationship with Jonno

Read more of Scene Five here.

Scene Six Summary

After our first sponsor meeting (described in Scene 4,) Juan asked our team if we would elaborate on our research and meet in the city’s building at 44 Wale Street. We informally presented our research to Juan, Megan, and Crispin and then further discussed the scope of our project. We were informed of some of the difficulties last year’s WPI Pathway team encountered and of some more stakeholders that would be beneficial to contact.

  • Presented research done prior to arrival in Cape Town
  • Discussed last year’s WPI Pathway project and difficulties with stakeholders
  • Gained helpful contacts for potential pathway stakeholders

Read more of Scene Six here.

Scene Seven Summary

As suggested by Clive, our team visited Company’s Garden to explore the relevance of the park’s features to those that could be incorporated into our pathway vision. Company’s Garden was created in the mid-seventeenth century as a location where fruits and vegetables were grown to provide fresh produce for ships passing through Cape Town. We visited the rose garden, where the food gardens once were, the succulent plant garden, and the herb garden. We took note of the signage and the incorporation of the garden’s rich heritage into the park and how visitors interacted with the exhibits.

  • Visited Company’s Garden as Clive suggested
  • Noted features of park which can be incorporated into pathway vision
  • Located site where the old fruit and vegetable gardens once were

Read more of Scene Seven here.

Scene Eight Summary

Matiland Garden Village invited us to celebrate their 90th annual Village Day celebration. There were many fun events at Village Day including a parade, a talent show, and the opportunity to eat and shop at the kiosks community members lined up along the fence. We were welcome by community members and enjoyed feeling like part of the celebration. We were able to see the Green Light Project’s presence in the community and it was great to see one of last year’s WPI initiatives manifested into a community group.

  • Celebrated Maitland Garden Village’s 90th annual Village Day
  • Connected with community members
  • Saw the Green Light Project as a defined community group

Read more of Scene Eight here.


Our first week in Cape Town involved relationship building with our sponsors and key Maitland Garden Village contacts, as well as orienting ourselves within the village and visiting gardens and pathways. Through meetings, community tours, and visits to different pathways and gardens we were able to develop our perspective for a pathway vision and begin to define objectives.

Visits to Green Point Park and Company’s Gardens granted us opportunities to study a developed pathway and garden to help us with potential ideas for Black River pathway planning. Through a series of tours of the village from community members we were able to understand the layout of the village and its culture and gain a sense of the boundaries and features the pathway can encompass. These experiences in conjunction with discussions with our sponsors and Maitland Garden Village members helped give us a general sense of different stakeholders’ aspirations, both long and short term, for the pathway.