What picture do you have of downtown Joburg? Decrepit flats, rundown grocery shops, decaying pavements, underfed street children and vandalized buildings perhaps? For the most part there is a huge chunk of our inner city that does look like this but on the corner of Main and Fox street there is a glimmer of hope that this is going to change. This is the street where we spent most of our weekend. Decrepit flats are being renovated into New York style apartments. Rundown grocery shops have been converted into trendy cafes like Pata Pata where you are served appetizing lunches over a board game of Checkers. Decaying pavements have transformed into busy sidewalks of artists, musicians, skateboarders, photographers, shoppers and positive South Africans. Underfed street children are being taught new skills. Vandalized buildings are being converted into chic restaurants, hotels and Sunday markets that are filled with fresh and innovative ideas.
This weekend I was inspired. Inspired by an idea that has turned into a life-size project. Inspired by people who imagine change and then put it into practice. Inspired by the diversity of people we met this weekend. I hope this inspiration is contagious and continues to filter into the other streets of Joburg.
Main street was alive with optimism this weekend. Optimistic restaurant owners who welcomed in the wet crowd when the heavens opened over the market yesterday afternoon. Optimistic stall owners who packed up early because they sold all their stock before the close of day. Optimistic city dwellers who welcomed visitors to their once barren and desolate neighbourhood. A neighbourhood that is being invested with idea’s, plans and inspiration.
Joburg thanks for a grand weekend. I believe this is only the beginning.