Surrounding Communities

Three communities that will be a direct factor in the planning process are Oude Molen Eco Village (OMEV), Maitland Garden Village (MGV) and Alexandra Hospital.

Oude Molen Eco Village

In 1997, social entrepreneurs began to transform Oude Molen Eco Village, an abandoned mental institution, into a socially, ecologically, culturally, and economically sustainable village. The inability to receive a long-term lease from the Provincial Government for this land caused a decline in tenants’ willingness to invest in the land. The 2011 project year was the first time in which WPI students engaged in OMEV.  The team worked with OMEV to create a three-dimensional virtual model to show where the village could expand housing, business, sustainability, and community opportunities. Capitalising on existing resources is important to all communities because it allows advances in job creation, self-sustainability, and the amount of community and residential space. The 2011 team was able to recognise these themes in the community and incorporate it into their design for further transformation of the village (Heindl et al., 2011).  This is important to the 2012 pathway project because the themes the previous project identified are quite relevant in terms of job creation and sustainability.

Maitland Garden Village

Maitland Garden Village was founded in 1922 and maintains a strong sense of community, despite extremely high unemployment rates and low income. This sense of community keeps crime rates in the village low, a trait that is uncharacteristic in places of high unemployment in South Africa. MGV once possessed an abundance of beautiful home gardens that have diminished over time. The first year WPI students collaborated with MGV was in 2011. The 2011 WPI team used a concept called Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) to collaborate with MGV on recognising and building upon the community’s strengths. Together, they created the Green Light Project, a youth and community group that strives to repair and restore the community to its former beauty (Baker et al., 2011). The Gardening Club, a subset of the Green Light Project, provides co-researchers for our project.

Alexandra Hospital

The Alexandra Hospital is a third community that is a large factor in the pathway development.  It is a “Secondary Hospital for the treatment and rehabilitation of the Intellectually Disabled Mental Health Care User (patient)” (Western Cape Government, 2011).  This will be the first time that WPI students will interact with the hospital and much is to be learned about its incorporation into the pathway planning.