Mission and Objectives

Mission Statement

This project intended to build community among the guests of Service Dining Rooms and to foster a comfortable space that promotes self-dignity and relationship building by providing a way for individual stories to be shared, encouraging expression through art and music and addressing the challenges street community members face through social mapping.


The following objectives were utilized to guide the documentation of stories of SDR’s guests, implementation of new arts and music programmes, and creation of social maps.

Objective 1: Establish open, comfortable relationships with members of the SDR community, including guests of SDR and co-researchers, by observing and interacting with them during their daily activities.

Objective 2: Formulate and discuss ideas to help foster a welcoming environment and build community with co-researchers, SDR guests, and sponsors, and decide which improvements would be most beneficial and feasible.

Objective 3: Design a step-by-step plan and implement beneficial changes with involvement from the SDR community.

Objective 4: Assess changes by gathering feedback from SDR community members either informally or formally.

Objective 5: Reflect upon the new additions and explore new opportunities to make SDR a more welcoming, home-like environment.

Objectives and Mission

A graphic that visually encompasses both the project mission and objectives.


Using these objectives as a guideline, we implemented the main aspects of the project. Throughout the process, we incorporated a Shared Action Learning (SAL) approach that emphasized collaborative work with members of the SDR community to implement sustainable outcomes.

Building Relationships

Our team was taught how to play dominoes by co-researchers at Service Dining Rooms.

Dominos used to facilitate early interactions

The first step in the project involved various activities that would assist the formation of open, comfortable relationships among community members participating in the project. Many activities included interaction with co-researchers and participants of the Streetscapes programme. This interaction occurred through gardening, playing dominos in the mornings, visiting the District Six Museum, and frequent conversation. Although initial relationships were built, activities, such as dominos, allowed us to have fun, sustain relationships with community members, and form new relationships throughout the project. Frequent discussion allowed us to learn about the backgrounds, stories, and challenges of one another, establishing a comfortable atmosphere.

Documenting Stories

Lee, a Streetscapes participant, has a biography and a professional photograph hanging on the wall in Service Dining Rooms, along with many others.

Lee, a Streetscapes participant, has a biography and a professional photograph hanging on the wall in Service Dining Rooms, along with many others.

Documenting stories allowed SDR community members to share their life stories and to form a deeper understanding of one another. Different methods in capturing the stories were considered, including formal or informal interviews, and video or voice recording. We made a schedule for when we would speak with different people, but it had to remain flexible due to the fluid schedules of street community members. Co-researchers, Tessa in particular, led discussion that helped determine which questions to ask participants to appropriately learn about their stories and experiences. Throughout the project, Streetscapes participants, SDR staff, and other guests of SDR were invited to partake in interviews, led by Tessa, or to fill out a template through hand-written responses, and given the opportunity to be photographed by a student from the Cape Town School of Photography. Feedback from co-researchers and community members contributed to the template and questions as it changed over time. With consent, captured stories and photographs were shared with other SDR community members through a photobook and the walls of the interior space.

Starting New Arts and Music Programmes

Edgar, a co-researcher, taught a Streetscapes participant how to play chords on the guitar.

Edgar, a co-researcher, taught a Streetscapes participant how to play chords on the guitar.

Implementing new art and music programmes at SDR encouraged expression and positive interaction among guests. For the art programme, frequent discussions considered ideas such as a competition, street person-led sessions, and a simple creative, open space. After receiving input from local businesses and community members, and significant advertising, a weeklong creative programme with daily facilitators present occurred, ending with a final viewing celebration event. We determined that displaying the artwork on the walls would enliven the interior and create dignity among participants. Similarly, weekly music programmes took place following community input and discussion of improvisational music sessions, instrument lessons, and scheduled performances. The programmes initially incorporated both a facilitated aspect and community-led improvisation, but progressed towards self-initiated and led music and dance sessions before we departed. Throughout, co-researchers provided valuable feedback on all ideas and assisted in the analysis of each decision to make changes to the programmes as appropriate.

Incorporating Social Mapping

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

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

Learning about the challenges street community members face, those involved in the project determined that two social maps could assist in addressing these issues. The law enforcement map, consisting of a large, laminated, satellite image of the city, allowed guests to pinpoint geographically where they faced personal difficulty with law enforcement. Different ideas for making the map most effective and user-friendly were explored, and physical changes to the map occurred throughout the project before determining the best method of involving color-coded stickers to categorize various difficulties. A second map, the resource map was developed through a process of gathering insights from SDR community members to determine resources that help alleviate challenges on the street, including access to food, water, clothing, and shelter. After considering input on utilized resources and ways to visually convey the information, a hand-drawn, interactive social asset map was constructed to geographically locate resources, and a hand-written guide detailing the services each resource offers was developed as a key.