Scene 3: Steering Committee Comes Together

10 December 2013


As a result of the community meeting, people expressed interest in forming a Steering Committee to carry out the implementation plans once we leave Cape Town. They had given us their names and ensured that we would be seeing them at our next weekly Monday meeting. The following Monday, the community members did not arrive at the Community Centre at 1 pm. We were looking forward to speaking with them about future plans for the park. Ronell and Naiela seemed a little discouraged and were ready to take the role of the Steering Committee into their own hands. However, we did not want to add the responsibility of seeing the design implementation to completion to their busy schedules with work and as executive members of the Green Light Project. In addition, Naiela cooks for the MGV soup kitchen every Tuesday afternoon. She suggested that we go with her the following day to spark some more interest. She mentioned that the people who benefit from the soup kitchen are very passionate about what they can do to help the community. We decided to meet at 1pm the next day, with the posters of park element options in hand. Naiela said that she would contact the individuals who showed interest during the community meeting and tell them to meet us at the Methodist Church.

soup kitchen

Cast of Characters:

MGV Park Team: Lucine, Tyler, Katherine

Community Members: Naiela, Uncle Marty

MGV Community


Setting: Maitland Garden Village Methodist Church



When we arrived at the church, Naiela was not there yet. However, familiar faces from the community meeting were waiting outside for us. With the help of Uncle Marty, we set up chairs in the church in preparation for the meeting that we were about to conduct. As community members began to arrive, they filed into the church with their empty tuba ware and took a seat. Naiela arrived with the biggest pot of soup that we had ever seen. She set it down on the table outside and entered the room to introduce us and get the meeting underway.

Many of the community members at the soup kitchen did not speak English. Naiela introduced us in Afrikans and began the meeting. We cannot tell you exactly what she told the community members sitting in the room and when she passed it over to us, we did not know if we were repeating what she had already said. We explained a little about our progress in the park redevelopment process and stressed the importance of their input and dedication to seeing the plans through. When we finished, Naiela took the floor once again. She reiterated what we said in Afrikans. We could only hope that what we said inspired enough people to step up and volunteer to be members of the Steering Committee.

When Naiela finished speaking, she opened up the opportunity for community members to come see the posters of park elements that were on display. As expected, many people expressed their desire for enclosing the park. One woman was debating which type of fencing would be appropriate for Perseverance Park. She quickly disregarded the barbed wire fencing and concluded that steel palisade would be perfect for the park. We jumped on this opportunity to convince her that steel palisade fencing does not promote open and free play for the children. Lucine brought the steel palisade fence in Maitland to her attention, recalling that the fence had been broken and stolen for scrap metal. The woman quickly recalled this and decided that perhaps steel palisade fencing was not the best idea. Katherine began pointing to other options on the poster board, specifically the cement and brick wall that served as a barrier, planter, and a seating space. We could see the excitement in her eyes as she concluded that this is what should be in their community park. We were excited as well!

We told everyone who was ready to make a three year commitment to the redevelopment of Perseverance Park to plan to meet once again the following Tuesday. The second time we arrived at the church, we set the chairs in a circle to facilitate discussion. Everyone sat down with their tuba ware full of soup. We established that this group of people would be the ones who would make up the Steering Committee due to their dedication and commitment shown by attending the meetings with us. Amongst the community members of the committee there is a gardener (Uncle Marty), and bricklayer, and many young women with children. After setting the expectations of them as members of this committee, we began brainstorming for an event in the park to be held on Friday. We decided on a planting day. The planting would be in coordination with the first phase of the landscape design according to the implementation plan. Everyone thought that this was a great idea. However, they wanted to make the park their own. One woman suggested bringing plants from their backyard gardens to be incorporated into the park. Another woman asked what the name of the park was and we responded with what we have been calling it all along, Perseverance Park. Realizing that this was not the official name of the park, we brought up the idea that naming the park was something the Steering Committee could do together. They loved that idea, as they truly want to make the park their own. With the recent passing of Nelson Mandela, one woman saw that the goal of this committee is to carry on his work in South Africa, making the park a place for everyone in the community.



After a slow start to the formation of the Steering Committee, we were excited to see the passion of the people who benefit from the soup kitchen. This is a great opportunity for them to use their talents and to give back to their community. We are excited about the dedication and commitment that the members of the committee are showing. We are confident in their ability to carry out the implementation process while addressing the concerns of the community. We are excited to work with them on Friday to continue making a visible difference in their community park.