Breaking Barriers to Establish Comfortable, Meaningful Relationships

Although some awkwardness was present initially, through our conversations and interactions, we were able to build strong connections and create a comfortable atmosphere for communication and collaboration with the SDR community (see Scene II: Dominos for a glimpse into relationship building). Building relationships and playing games not only built community in itself but also helped us to understand one another on a deeper level. We realized that despite the differences in each person’s hometown, upbringing, family, personal experiences, clothing, or the amount of money in his or her pockets, we are all just people who experience the same emotions and have the same basic needs.

Building relationships with co-researchers

Establishing connections with co-researchers

Dominos used to facilitate early interaction.

Dominos used to facilitate early interaction

Learning from Shared Action Learning

Through Shared Action Learning, our understanding of the culture of the SDR community was deepened, and, similarly, we feel the community was able to benefit from our perspective as students and the enthusiasm we brought to the project. Each of our co-researchers brought a unique perspective, and, without their lead and feedback, this project’s initiatives would not have had the impact that they did. Similarly, without support from other community members, these initiatives could not have been possible or sustained. This project allowed all key players to learn, grow, and benefit from its outcomes because of effective collaboration under the Shared Action Learning model.

Forming a Creative Space: Initiation of an Arts Programme

The initiation of an arts programme served as a key part of this project’s efforts to provide a means of expression for the SDR community. In addition, it created a more comfortable space of which people can feel a sense of ownership. In the weeklong art event, approximately 20-40 people participated and most displayed their work on the walls (see Art Gallery to view some of the artwork). At the art viewing (see Scene V: Art Viewing for an in-depth look), about 70 people engaged in a lively atmosphere and new connections were formed; one local businessman even expressed interest in creating a postcard out of one of the generated pieces of art. Further, staff members and guests have expressed a desire to continue the programme. We generated a list of possible grants to apply for supplies funding and have details for contacts interested in continuing hosting and supporting the programme in the future. Much of the artwork remains on the walls of SDR, beautifying the space and allowing those who created the artwork to feel a greater sense of belonging.







A Universal Connection: Building Community through Musical Expression

Starting a music programme in SDR allowed street community members to express themselves and have fun. After the first event (see Scene IV: Music for more detail), positive feedback fueled proceeding sessions. Many bonded over singing, dancing, laughing, learning to play the guitar and djembe, and teaching our team about popular South African music. The continuation of these programs will allow for these connections to continue growing and for fun and laughter to keep illuminating SDR. One local musician and a regular SDR guest have expressed interest in leading future sessions.

Music Programme Dance Cirlce

Improvised dance session

Co-researcher Taking the Lead in a Music Session

Co-researcher-led guitar lesson

Implementing Maps to Address Community Challenges

Social mapping promoted discussion regarding the challenges faced by street community members who frequent SDR. Guests expressed passion toward the struggles street people face on a daily basis, including mistreatment from law enforcement and lack of access to necessities such as food, water, clothing, and shelter. Addressing these difficulties gave guests an opportunity to express their experiences, and, from gathered feedback, let guests know that people cared about trying to address these challenges. In addition, each map encourages continual guest interaction, whether it is placing a new mark on the law enforcement map or adding an additional resource to the social asset map. Not only did social mapping promote discussion on these challenges during the project, but these maps will continue to highlight these issues for as long as they remain on the walls at SDR and are maintained by staff who expressed an interest.

A SDR team member and a co-researcher reflect on how to improve the resource map.

Resource Map

Law Enforcement

Law Enforcement Map

Law Enforcement Map

Law Enforcement Map: Sticker Method

This is Who We Are: Sharing Stories of the SDR Community

As part of an ongoing process, documenting biographies allowed members of the SDR community to share their experiences and biographies with others and a written version was placed in a photobook and/or hung up on the walls of SDR (see Scene III: Stories for a sample of Tessa’s story gathering). It was powerful to see how dignified guests felt when they would be able to read their life story and see their picture on the wall. SDR was becoming their space. One staff member expressed his interest in continuing this initiative after seeing the photobook and stories on the walls, and hopefully this staff member, a student from the Cape Town School of Photography, and a few guests of SDR, will continue the work.

A Streetscape particpant's Picture and Bio

Lee’s Story

Interviewing a Guest

Co-researcher-led Interview

Creating Connections to Encourage Collaboration and Sustainability

Building connections and relationships with outside individuals and organizations was instrumental in helping reach the intended goals of this project and providing a means of continuation of this project’s initiatives. Collaborative efforts with organizations such as Artsauce, which sourced materials for the art event and promoted the event to the public, and the Cape Town School of Photography, which posted a request for a photographer to come take quality photographs of those we interviewed, helped start and pursue this project’s initiatives. Further, the sustainability of this project will rely heavily on the connections made.