Shared Action Learning

The goal of this project is to assist the Maitland Garden Village community in redeveloping Perseverance Park by proposing a plan for the design, implementation, and sustainability of the park.  This goal is impossible to achieve without working hand-in-hand with the members of Maitland Garden Village and the City of Cape Town Parks Department through Shared Action Learning. In order to begin park redevelopment, it is necessary to learn and understand the “social, cultural, and ecological context” in which the project is taking place. To do this, we have spent ample time with members of the community, attending Village Day in celebration of the 92nd birthday of the village and speaking to many members of the community in regards to the initial state of the park in order to understand the role it plays in the community. The most rewarding aspect of understanding the cultural context is spending time with our co-researchers. Throughout the project we have walked through the village with them, hearing about their stories growing up in Garden Village and meeting their friends and family. They shared with us their interests as we shared about what we are studying as engineering students. Understanding context of the project also extends to meeting with members of the City Parks Department. Meeting with them every week has allowed us to gain an understanding of how the park redevelopment process in Cape Town works, applying it to the redevelopment of Perseverance Park alongside community involvement.


Throughout the process of gaining an understanding of the “social, cultural, and ecological context” we have entered the next phase of Shared Action Learning, “connect”. Connecting with our teammates, the MGV community, and City Parks officials has made the project more successful. It has allowed everyone to feel comfortable with one another in confidently sharing our own ideas. It has opened the door for an influx input from multiple points of view, stemming from community concerns, the Parks Department development process, and our research on Early Childhood Development and natural park design.

The next step in Shared Action Learning is “planning”. Planning is where understanding context and connection come together in forming plans that the redevelopment team think will be successful and welcomed by the community. Planning involves thinking about community concerns and park redevelopment in various ways with our co-researchers and park team. It is certain that the plans developed during the preparation term have evolved once implemented during fieldwork. Thinking and forming plans with the community and stakeholders is the best way to look at problems in different lights in the case that something does not go as previously planned.

Together, we then implement our plans to make a meaningful impact on the Maitland Garden Village community through the “act” portion of Shared Action Learning. This involves actively engaging the community in preparing a park design and implementation plan that is widely accepted by both the community and Parks Department. Taking action will continue once we leave Cape Town and placed fully in the hands of community members to carry out implementation and work with the Parks Department to address any concerns as they arise. One of the more difficult aspects of Shared Action Learning is “observing” how others respond to our proposed plan as the term comes to an end. The manner in which the community and Parks Department receives our ideas will give us a good idea on whether or not we need to reevaluate our ideas and approach. A safety analysis conducted in the future will be another way to observe whether or not our plans are in check with government standards. With “observing” comes “reporting”, which we have done by utilizing our project website. This website allows us to keep the MGV community and stakeholders informed on progress as new plans are developed. Photos and electronic visuals are shared with the public and are a great way to report our process of the redevelopment of Perseverance Park.

The final part of Shared Action Learning is to “reflect, share, and learn”, something that can take place between team members, the community, and within each individual. Throughout the redevelopment process, we can reflect upon both the positive and discouraging experiences that have led us to begin the cycle of Shared Action Learning yet again. The continuous process of Shared Action Learning steers project implementation in the right direction, as our team, the community, and stakeholders learn together each step of the way.