Gentrification in Woodstock & Salt River: Answers from the City

Below are questions, which were sent to the City of Cape Town as part of research for the A Community in Crisis: Gentrification in Woodstock and Salt River  tour. The responses were too long to include in the audio tour in full, so we are posting them here for those who would like further details. There’s also a gentrification reading list here.  

In the City of Cape Town’s 2008 social housing progress report, it states that at least three sites in Woodstock and Salt River – Pickwick Road, Dillon Lane, and the Salt River Market – will be developed into social housing by 2011. Why haven’t they been completed yet?

Councillor Benedicta van Minnen, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements:

This has been an extremely complicated situation, primarily, as it involves the well-being of existing residents. As you will appreciate, a significant challenge in the precinct is how to deal with the low income, and indigent, households that are presently living in the area, usually in an informal manner. In some instances these households have lived in the area for many years. However, the existence of the informal housing is delaying the possible development of formal, affordable rental opportunities on some sites. This situation is, however, not only happening in this precinct but in other parts of the City’s Transport-Oriented Development corridors, such as in the metro south-east corridor, where the intent is to encourage medium and high density affordable rental developments.

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Welcome Guests with VoiceMap: A Pilot Program for Airbnb Hosts

VoiceMap is working on a set of new features for hotels, guest house owners, Airbnb hosts, and anybody else who has paying guests. We want to make it quick and easy to create a short, immersive audio tour that allows you to show your guests around the neighbourhood without actually being there.

Spier Wine Farm and Once in Cape Town have already created similar tours, but we’re working out how to simplify and speed up this process, to make it more accessible for small businesses. Our team in Cape Town is piloting the project, and because VoiceMap is perfect for Airbnb’s plugged-in, international guests, we’re looking for two Airbnb hosts in the City Bowl or the Atlantic Seaboard. If you have a listing in either place, please get in touch. You’ll find our contact details below.

You’ll need to come into our Woodstock office for a chat, where we’ll help you map out a route that takes in some interesting sights, shops, bars, and other things your neighbourhood has to offer. Then you’ll need to work with us to create and record a script. You’ll be left with an immersive GPS tour which your guests can download. None of this will cost you anything.

If you’re interested, please send an email to hello@voicemap.me, and we’ll send along more details.

Controversy: VoiceMap’s Podcast, Episode 1

Controversies — or potential controversies — exist all around us, all the time. But a single place can sometimes become a lightning rod for all of this pent up energy. Think of prostitution, for example. I think it’s safe to assume that the oldest profession has, well, professionals, just about everywhere. But by bringing prostitution out into the light, Bangkok’s red light districts have given us a focal point for all of the sex trade’s many complexities.

A red light district in Bangkok is one place we’re visiting today. We’re also stopping to look up at a statue of a long dead colonialist in Cape Town and considering what an inner city prison in Philadelphia says about the American dream. Continue reading “Controversy: VoiceMap’s Podcast, Episode 1” »

The Voice of Bo-Kaap

Shereen Habib was born in 1952 in a house at the top of Bo-Kaap, Cape Town’s “Malay Quarter”. The predominantly Muslim neighbourhood’s population is mostly descended from convicts, political exiles and slaves from the former Dutch East Indies.

Shereen’s family has lived in Bo-Kaap for almost a century. During apartheid’s darkest days when most non-white people were banished to designated neighbourhoods and townships on the outskirts of the city, including Shereen and her husband, her parents remained in the house on the hill.

She returned to Bo-Kaap after a decade with her husband in a formerly “coloured” area. It was home, she says. “After so much anger and so much death and so much shooting down, with my children witnessing it all, we were traumatised. I wanted to get back to where I knew best – where there was love and laughter – and so I came back here. And that’s when I knew that this is where I wanted to start telling my story.”

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Our favourite stories about Cape Town, so far

Conventional audio tours tell a city’s story with only one or two voices, which doesn’t allow for diversity or individual perspectives. You can’t capture the essence of a place like Cape Town’s Bo-Kaap in the same way as the colonial Company’s Gardens or the Grand Parade, where Mandela addressed 200,000 ecstatic people after his release from prison. What brings these spaces to life, and connects you to them, is the personal opinions, anecdotes and sense of ownership reflected in the words, ‘I love’, ‘I remember’, and ‘I hope’.

The best travel experiences normally begin with a local showing you their city. It cuts through all the abstraction of being an outsider, making you a participant, with a point of reference that helps you identify with a place. You get to share somebody else’s feelings for their home – and that’s exactly what VoiceMap aims to do, with the help of our storytellers.

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Cape Town, tell us your stories

We’re launching VoiceMap in Cape Town throughout the month of September, and we’re looking for stories that make our map of Cape Town more complete. We’ve lined up significant media coverage from some of the city’s biggest broadcasters and publications, and Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Partnership are lending a hand.

We’re always on the lookout for your stories, and anything is welcome, but we’re prioritising the following places and themes in particular:

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