Global Day of Action at Princess Vlei – Tree planting in Cape Town

My field work here in Cape Town consists very much in following and learning from how active citizens and their organizations can come together to influence decision-making processes around particular urban green spaces. This I use as an entrypoint for discussions on local democracy, urban ecology, empowerment and to understand how alternative values and desires are expressed and articulated in urban politics.

Princess Vlei and Little Princess Vlei, southern Cape Town.
Source: http://westcapenews.com/?p=1400
For the last three years since I began coming to Cape Town, it has been immensely rewarding to have had the chance to get to know persons that with great passion, skills, and devotion have been engaging in rehabilitating once derelict open spaces and green areas to better functioning urban public spaces that hums of wildlife and boasts with plants. Of special attention for me has been the citizens involved in what is today known as the Bottom Road Sanctuary, the Ecopark (at Bottom Road) and the Princess Vlei, which are spaces and urban ecologies influenced - and even 'put together' - by the organization sometimes called the Cape Flats Wetland Forum. I will return to these spaces, and their persons, organizations, plants, and animals as I finally have almost two years in this city!

On this day, the 10th day of the 10th month of the year 2010, I just want to report that today I participated in planting trees at Princess Vlei, organized by the Cape Flats Wetland Forum, in collaboration with WESSA and Climate Action Partnership: South Africa (CAP). 50 trees were planted of which all were referred to as indigenous, although two were non-local species (that were more "bush like" and thus could serve as protective wind break to other (indigenous) trees...). A group of acclaimed Khoisan descendants participated, children from Ocean View were there from a project called "Little Green Fingers", a church organization had representatives there as well, alongside one principal and one teacher from two nearby schools that each have "adopted a plot" that their schools and learners take responsibility to rehabilitate. Apart from these you also had residents from Grassy Park and Retreat.  (Images will be uploaded later.)

(In the last couple of weeks I have participated in a row of exciting meetings, from meetings with the Mayor of Cape Town, to petition and protest day at Princess Vlei, and more informal meetings with activists. Since more than a year ago the mobilization has intensified as the City decided to go ahead with re-zoning a part of this wetland from public open space to commercial use. The plan is to allow for the building of a new shopping mall (like Blue Route or Capricorn). Two public participation processes are now ongoing, but which are soon closing.) 

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