10 Small Ways To Improve The City Centre

10 Small Ways To Improve The City Centre

Cities are our biggest and most collective effort. The result of all our great choices, debatable decisions, and mistakes, it reflects us as a community. They’re also the key to saving us from climate change. They drive our national economies, they impact our personal health, and much more. Sometimes the smallest things we can do for our cities can have the biggest impact. Here we want to share 10 small ideas that show how even the tiniest changes can make our city a better place.

1. Home improvements and renovations

In many cases home improvements help better the aesthetic of a city, though this may not be an option for some. It is important to be aware of if our properties are heritage resources. Many Capetonians live in, or own, buildings that are protected by the National Heritage Act, or reside in areas that are protected because of unique heritage backgrounds. If so, there may be a need for heritage permission to make changes to a property. To manage our heritage resources, the City of Cape Town implements national heritage legislation, working closely with Heritage Western Cape.

2. Supporting local

Each city exudes a unique presence, a different scene, and one great way to get to the heart of a community is to take in its art. Artists have a way of telling the story of a city’s many facets in a way that is both critical and beautiful. Making art is, in itself, a great way to reduce stress for adults and children alike. Sadly there aren’t many spaces that display this form of expression. Creating vendor spaces to promote local art would be a way to make many artists feel heard and seen. This would also be a major tourist attraction as they will have access to the heart and soul of Cape Town, its people.

3. Support the community garden

Community gardens provide all sorts of excellent benefits, from better eating habits to improved health and lower food costs. Community gardens offer up plots of land for participants to rent out and grow delicious food. In larger cities especially, residents do not often have access to soil for growing their own food. The community garden becomes their opportunity to cultivate what will later go on their plate. This also stimulates a sense of community among fellow gardeners. Here’s more information about our Community Food Garden Project.

4. Bike or carpool to work

The more commuters on the city’s roadways, the more congestion, and the more time spent sitting in traffic. Taking alternative modes of transportation means lightening the traffic load and the citywide carbon footprint. Less traffic means more time out of the car, bus, or train doing what you like. Get moving and reduce stress by making your morning drive, and the drives of others, shorter and more enjoyable. Designating bike lanes would also encourage this mode of transportation, which means less cars on the road. Building bike racks to accommodate cyclists would also help in making residents feel safe enough to use their bicycles to work.

5. Making use of public transport

Successful public transport is essential for any transport sector emissions reduction strategy. It delivers benefits for transport efficiency, pollution reduction, the local and national economy, and social inclusiveness. Most cities’ streets are designed for private vehicles first. This spatial bias must be rebalanced for public transport to deliver the reliable, high frequency service necessary to become a viable alternative. The high visibility of road space reallocation also helps to encourage people to use these services. Reclaiming road space for public transport can be quick, low-cost and incrementally implemented, but must be part of a long-term, holistic process.

6. Fix up parks and public spaces

Does barely functional equipment take the fun out of the local playground? Would new basketball courts or equipment make the park next door more enticing? We all need green space, especially in times like this. To help guide those seeking to get their public parks in tip-top shape, the Center for Urban Pedagogy created a guide for building coalitions, activating the community, and petitioning the local government for change.

7. Preserve community murals

It’s no secret that murals make our neighbourhoods beautiful. They add colour to building walls and streets that would otherwise go unnoticed, which is a treat for locals and tourists alike. Murals attract new local businesses, help bring customers to pre-existing locations, and boost the economy of an area. Some cities even offer walking/biking public art tours as a great way to interact with a city and its art. Public art can illuminate a street, but protecting the work over time can truly define a neighbourhood, as well as foster creativity and talent.

8. Plant a tree

Shade, serenity, sustainability, are some of the reasons trees add so much to the urban landscape and ask so little. Many cities give away free trees, have planting services, or require tree planting permits, so check your local rules before you start digging. Trees make a city more liveable by removing air pollutants, reduces stormwater run-off, keeps the city cooler during summer, provides food and shelter for birds and wildlife, and so much more.

9. Support shelters for the homeless

Homeless people are possibly recent arrivals in the city or need assistance with healthcare, gaining skills and finding work. Supporting shelters for the homeless stresses the importance of giving those in need a hand up rather than a handout.

10. Vote in municipal elections

Many of us don’t vote at the government level that affects our lives on a daily basis. This is the chance for us as citizens to vote for the people who we believe will best look after our service delivery interests such as water and electricity; the maintenance of parks, roads and other public spaces, and the implementation of housing projects drawn up by national and provincial governments.

Change does not come overnight but it is our responsibility to make the small necessary efforts in the direction of a better tomorrow. Our city is the home we raise our families in and they need to be maintained and treated as priority to get the best out of it. Book a consultation with Ken for practical guidance on how to contribute to our city in a positive way.