I recently went along to the Capetonian chapter of Creative Mornings, a fresh and straightforward international network described as “a monthly breakfast lecture series for creative types.”
As well as a coffee and the largest muffin I’ve ever seen, your free ticket gets you the opportunity to natter with other creative folk and listen to a short talk from the day’s speaker about starting up and running a great creative project.
In this case, we were talking about a stylish community project driven by a private company.
Name Your Hood
Bruce Good is the man behind Name Your Hood, an initiative that seeks to encourage the community to name and so celebrate areas of their city. Much in the way that New York has the well-known Soho and Tribeca, the process of naming gives a sense of identity: many of the areas of Cape Town simply don’t have names, and you end up giving detailed explanations of the area of ‘town’ you’re in. (“Just past the petrol station, about 10 minutes walk from the end of Long Street…”)
Each area is named and gets it’s own community website, with useful lists of places to shop, eat out and drink, and features on the people who live and run those businesses there.
This project has stuck in my mind because the idea behind it had been so well executed. It’s not a simple PR exercise about voting for a new name no-one will care about. The shortlist is created by looking at the area’s roots, history and contemporary activity; the local businesses are consulted; the design is appealing; the judging panel for the shortlist is made up of respected and high-profile citizens. Substantial research has been done and there is a tangible energy about the campaign.
Connecting with the City
The team has spent time a huge amount of time and energy getting the city and tourism authorities to pay attention: the new names will be added to the next edition of tourist maps. Name Your Hood is a private enterprise, not a city project, and started life as a small idea that has evolved to take advantage of the interest and potential in defining a city’s identity. A question from the audience asked about signage for the newly names neighbourhoods: while investigating this option, the organisers illuminated the issue of cluttered city signage.
Explore Cape Town’s Neighbourhoods
The Loop District was named for the loop (U-turns) delivery wagons performed in the area’s Bree Street.
At the turn of the 20th century Woodstock and the adjoining Salt River were suburbs of vineyards and vegetables, with the sails of a windmill turning in Albert Road and a straggling line of houses with large gardens on the high road.
Creative Mornings happen in more than 20 cities around the world, from New York and London to Auckland, Aarhus and Singapore. They reminded me a little of the social media coffee mornings held in Edinburgh and Melbourne: a good place to informally chat about projects. Unfortunately, the talk was after the mingling: Capetonians seem a little reserved when it comes to networking, and I think having the talk to kick things off would have broken the ice. I’ll be going along to the next one though.