Scene Six: A Presentation to our Sponsors

After our meeting on Monday with our sponsors from the City of Cape Town’s Environmental and Heritage Management Department, Juan Nomdo asked our group if we would be willing to present the research we had done prior to our arrival in Cape Town. We prepared a short presentation covering the research our team prepared, including looking into agricultural and tourism opportunities, how we plan to collaborate with relevant stakeholders and community members, and our knowledge of last years projects as they pertain to our project. We then discussed further the direction of our project and their expectations for our project.

Cast of Characters:
Our meeting consisted of our project team, Megan from the Two Rivers Urban Park (TRUP) Committee and our sponsors Juan and Crispin from the City of Cape Town’s Department of Environmental and Heritage Management.

We walked to the City of Cape Town’s municipality building to meet with our sponsor liaisons in the Department of Environmental and Heritage Management’s office on Wale Street. Our walk was a grey and rainy one, and due to the Muslim holiday of Eid ul-Fitr, Shahbaz went to the Mosque early and did not walk with us to Wale Street from our backpackers’ lodge. When the girls arrived in the lobby of the government building, we were asked to sign in as visitors and return our signed pass after we met with our sponsor liaisons. We were then allowed to up to the fifth floor of the building to the Environmental and Heritage Management office. We then went across the hall to the room we would present to Juan, Crispin, and Megan in. We sat around a circular table and projected our slides on the blank white wall behind us. While we waited for everyone to arrive, we sat and chatted about the Muslim holiday, what we had planned for the weekend and how we might have to postpone our trip to Company’s Garden, which we had planned to do after that meeting. Our presentation was quite informal and was done seated. We reviewed our team’s research and then received more insight regarding what our sponsors had in mind for our project. After our meeting concluded, Crispin walked us back to the lobby, signed our permission slip, and saw us off. We were heading back to the lodge when the bad weather began to pass. We then decided to take the trip to Company’s Garden after all.

After our presentation about the research we conducted prior to arriving in Cape Town, our sponsor liaisons seemed pleased with the research we had done and continued to give us some more insight into what posed problems for last year’s WPI Black River Pathway team and what direction our project should take. Last year had some difficulty with keeping good lines of communication between the multiple stakeholders involved in the larger scope of their project. We were advised to try and make one large meeting with all of our stakeholders once we have a good basis on all of the facets our project should encompass and plan this meeting in advance. We learned that there are multiple stakeholders to the land within TRUP. The Provincial Government will also be a major stakeholder in the development in a pathway connecting MGV to other areas of land, such as Oude Molen. Oude Molen Eco Village is on land that the Provincial Government leases to the micro-entrepreneurs. The Provincial Government also owns areas of land on the other side of the M5 highway. It is, therefore essential that we get permission from the Provincial Government to use this land before incorporating it into our plans for potential pathway connections or find out the process by which land is leased.

  • How do you see Oude Molen and Alexandra Institute fitting into the project?
  • What is the next step you would like us to take? Specifically for MGV?
  • How often do you think we should go out to MGV?
  • Do you see heritage being a large part of this project? What types? What cope?
  • What are some final deliverables you would like to see from us?
  • What is the process, some restrictions and potential benefits to creating a heritage area? Who is involved? What departments?
  • What is a physical step we can take?
  • How can we move forward from last year’s project without repeating it?

Action and Observation:
We arrived at 44 Wale Street and checked in at the front counter, giving our name, signature, purpose for being there and phone number. We then travelled to the 5th floor and waited in the Environmental and Heritage Management Department. Soon, Crispin ushered us into a small room which a table surrounded by three chairs. There, Juan was waiting at his desk. After a few moments of setting the projector and presentation up, Megan from TRUP arrived and the meeting commenced.

Our team started with a presentation describing our previous research, vision for the pathway, and what had been done in the past couple of days with Maitland Garden Village. During the presentation, we discussed attending a TRUP meeting to which Megan said she would be delighted and the nearest one was 9 November at 14h00 in the Environcenter. After the presentation, Crispin started with a few major problems that they deal with for projects like the pathway. The biggest one is communication between stakeholders. There is not enough communication about where boundary lines of the stakeholders’ properties end and there is not usually a time and place for all the stakeholders to meet. This is something we can work on by attending the Steering Committee meeting on 16 November at 14h00 pertaining to the lack of method of transportation for MGV community members to use. This committee has various government branches and private companies that own property around potential commuter routes, such as the bridge from OMEV to near Valkenberg Hospital over the Black River and the M5 highway. Megan is going to try to get us a spot to present at this meeting and Juan was very supportive of this.

Other issues that commonly arise pertain to lack of startup funding, especially since most of the land is on city property. The city can only allot funding on a yearly basis and there needs to be a precedent for usefulness. The most likely direction is that private businesses, such as those in Nashua Business Park near Oude Molen, will be used to fund initial efforts. There was also a lot of confusion over the status of a footbridge for the surrounding communities’ use to cross the M5. Our sponsors were under the impression that there is one along a motorized bridge but they are unsure about the accessibility. They see the bridge planning as an integral part of the pathway planning.

We also expressed our concerns on being a continuation from last year but not wanting to repeat the project. Juan explained that he would like to see a detailed plan for making Maitland Garden Village and the pathway a destination for people to visit. He expects that we will use Oude Molen entrepreneurs as a source for river investment and community integration into the pathway, particularly thinking of the horses and renewable energy. Finally, he would like a detailed reason for why these communities should be involved in the pathway and why it is such an important project.

Reflection and Learning
This was an important learning experience for our team. We are now starting to see some vision in this project. For example, we now our sponsors expect a proposal for a potential pathway incorporating a footbridge as a final production addition to a business plan for agricultural development; there is a large heritage aspect to it that we had not considered too heavily thus far. The ultimate goal is to make MGV a destination for tourists to come and learn in an interactive way that transcends simply taking pictures. We gained a lot of future plans through Juan and Crispin’s suggestions.

We have also begun to sense a difference between what features our sponsors and advisors think are most important. Our sponsors place a larger emphasis on heritage and how the pathway can showcase MGV’s heritage. Our research prior to coming to Cape Town was focused more on the potential of job creation in MGV because of their high rates of unemployment. We are going to try and blend these two scopes of the project and create a proposal which we feel is maximally beneficial to MGV community members and fulfills our sponsors requirements for learning about the areas heritage to aid the future effort for making MGV a heritage location.

From the meeting, we were still missing some critical information. The Steering Committee meeting that Megan introduced is still a source of uncertainty for our group. We are not entirely sure its purpose, who runs it, and the specific parties that attend it. We were also missing some key contact information. We were given many ideas on the types of people to talk to for this project but no information on who specifically to contact.

Plans for future scenes:

  • Learn the history of MGV to gain a better understanding for how it can be made a heritage area.
  • Visit Nashua Business Park to assess interest in funding a project along the Black River or other heritage attractions.
  • Talk to people in Oude Molen to gauge interest in working on the Black River project.
  • Talk to Alexandra Institute to see their interest in labour and funding.
  • Assess the desire lines and find possible placements of a footpath across the M5.
  • Attend the TRUP meeting on 9 November to support Ronell and Sheila in representing MGV in the TRUP committee.
  • Attend the Steering Committee meeting and present on 16 November.
  • Start collecting data on how different businesses and organizations can benefit from pathway development and how the pathway development can influence making MGV a heritage area.
  • Find out if there are different proposals being developed for Maitland Garden Village.

To view the presentation from this meeting, click here [PDF, 408 KB]