It’s been just over a year since we were all allowed an early break from our houses and the park became a buzz of activity from 6 to 9 each morning. Everyone was out jogging, gymming, walking, chatting, but also weeding as we’d lost prime time for ridding the park of weeds and their seeds.
This time round, we’re more or less ahead of the weeds. We’ve also begun implementing various plans that were hatched during early lockdown. The park remains almost as heavily used as right after lockdown, but we’ve conquered some forgotten corners, allowing everyone to spread out more. Take a stroll down the new paths into the North-West corner of the park to discover a hidden garden. Or wander over the ridge behind the gym equipment to enjoy a breath-taking view across the Northern suburbs.
Residents have begun donating bags-full of autumn leaves so we can mulch all the rockeries and beds that we’ve freed of kikuyu and weeds, and in which new plants now have to survive the next few months without water.
We keep learning which plants grow best, and what to make cuttings of and plant more of in spring.
We’ve discovered some champion weed-busting, drought-loving species. Thanks to Mayford’s seed donation, we have indigenous grasses flourishing in several previously weed-infested patches. We’ll resume sowing grass seeds in spring.
A new priority is the area of the park that meets Putney corner Esher. A gatvol resident confronted dumping and began having rubble and waste removed. The plan is to prepare new paths, rockeries and seating areas. Watch this space, but also come out and join the action, adopt a patch and enjoy seeing it flourish.
The Park People
A sad-looking stray has been part of Brixton’s street scene for at least two months. Tail tucked in, ears and eyes alert, she would look back to make sure no one was following her. Several residents had hopes of gaining her trust through food and luring her into safety. She seemed to anticipate these plans, and would move to a different part of Brixton. The SPCA tried at least four times to catch her!
As the weeks went by, her belly swelled. A WhatsApp group formed among those spotting her regularly. We co-ordinated feeding and hoped to secure her safety before she’d give birth to her pups. Like a slippery bar of soap, she never quite allowed anyone close enough to fit a collar, and evaded attempts to make her enter an open gate. But slip into our hearts she did.
She moved between Barnes and Putney, most frequently seen lying in the afternoon sun outside an unused gate in Putney west. We racked our brains. But she had it all planned. All along she was trying to tell us: ‘humans, just bear with me, I have it all sorted’.
On Friday morning 14 May, residents in Putney heard squeaks from a recessed clump of bamboo. The commune owner allowed us to cordon the area off with a neat barrier crafted by a resident carpenter. The Sector Crime Forum agreed to keep a lookout and neighbours brought her food. Students in the commune stayed awake all night watching over her. On Saturday morning, they reported her sudden escape. But the perfect mom came right back after relieving herself. The barrier was raised.
On Sunday, a dog whisperer from Place a Pup in Bryanston arrived and lifted nine pups to the safety of a canopied pick-up. She managed to gain the stray’s trust sufficiently to slip a collar over her head and lead her to a happy reunion with her offspring. By evening, photos poured in of a box with cosy blanket in a warm room, home to a relaxed mom feeding her tumbling pups.
Why didn’t one of us keep her and the pups? We did debate this. But as Place a Pup explained, 95 percent of puppies don’t survive their third week if the mom isn’t vaccinated against pavovirus. Place a Pup has experience with pulling such pups through, while also getting the moms dewormed and eventually spayed. They provide behavioural training, before putting the mom up for adoption. They do home visits before placing pups.
Anyone wishing to support Place a Pup while they care for Brixton’s stray and her large litter up to weaning at six weeks, and/or beyond, can contact them using the details below.
Post by Marie Huchzermeyer
Vegetation in Kingston Frost Park is rapidly transforming. The indigenous Dombeya rotundifolia (wild
pear or inhlizya enkulu) burst out in white flowers, followed by the pink blossoms of Bauhinia
variegata, which stems from northern India. The barks of both have medicinal uses, as do the
flowers of the Bauhinia.
Over 90mm of rain came just in time for as many aloe cuttings on the eastern side of the valley in
areas freed of Kikuyu roots. A first few batches of succulents made their way out of Brixton gardens
into the park.
The west slope of the valley is showing a light film of green, but as the various indigenous grasses
flourish, so do weeds and kikuyu. Maintenance of the park vegetation (other than lawn mowing and
tree pruning) is in the hands of residents. It’s a rewarding task as community gardeners Daniel and
As summer unfolds, we hope to bring the Brixton and Auckland Park community together for regular
days of action and interaction in the park.
Alton Rankin from City Parks took part in a 2-hour walkabout in the park and assured us of
the City’s continued pride in what the community is achieving. A few hardware maintenance issues
will receive attention in coming weeks while longer term path- and place-making ideas are being
Can you help with the park?
able to contribute donations towards the livelihoods of the gardeners
keen to serve on the Park Committee
wanting to join us on planting and maintenance days
with indigenous succulents ready for planting
please contact email@example.com
For the past few weeks we have been gathering data. We have completed the research with reclaimers and key informants and are now focusing on gathering data from residents. The fieldwork with reclaimers included a survey of approximately 50 participants and a number of in-depth interviews with some participants to gain deeper insights into their experiences, reflections and ideas. We have also conducted interviews with six key informants.
We are using three methods to access residents’ reflections on the pilot and suggestions for the future. We have conducted four key informant interviews with residents who are leading the implementation of the pilot on the ground. If you looked out of your window early last Tuesday, you might have seen some of your neighbours walking through the streets with cell phones or maps in hand, recording each bag of separated recyclables that they found. This will help us to create maps that show how many residents are participating in the pilot and where they live. This part of the evaluation is being led by Brixton resident Mark Schaerer who is generously donating his time to design the method for gathering the data and to creating the maps. We could not have done this without Mark or the residents who were out on the streets when you would normally have been sleeping or enjoying a morning coffee. We are deeply appreciative that you made the time to assist in gathering data, which itself is an indication of resident support for the pilot.
The resident survey is the main way that we are accessing resident’s experiences, insights and recommendations for the future. Many thanks as well to those of you who have completed it. It is very important that we get residents’ perspectives on the pilot. The number of completed surveys is still relatively low and we would be greatly appreciative if you could take time to complete it. You just need to follow this link - forms.gle/RRkwDg7NBMjiR2AU9
We can’t share much information yet, but from the perspective of the reclaimers, the pilot has been an overwhelming success in transforming relationships between reclaimers and the community. Prior to the official start of the pilot, 75% of reclaimers felt welcome in Brixton and 72% felt they were part of the community. In Auckland Park, 66% of reclaimers felt welcome and 57% felt part of community. Preliminary survey data indicates that taking both suburbs together, these numbers are now approximately 95%!
Mid-June and the long-weekend which in lockdown was just like every other day, except we had no power. Our box on the pole outside our house was open and wires were dangling. But it was freezing cold and City Power were "putting out fires" everywhere. So several logged calls and 56 hours later, we were finally reconnected. But the joy was short-lived as we were hardly on when the mini-substation in Chiswick Street blew. So no power again. Eventually someone came to reconnect us. For the next three days it was reconnected, then the box would start smoking, and then we would lose power. Then some poor City Power sod would work through the night to replace the burnt wires and replace all the trip switches.
On Day 3 it was determined that the mini-sub was beyond repair. But the City of Johannesburg Council had not met to pass the budget, there were no new mini-subs in stock, and there were no generators available. But our Councillor, Bridget Steer, and Brixton neighbours Jonathan Thompson and Issie Sattor never stopped working on the problem. And within a few days, a ginormous, loud, noisy generator appeared. This became the centre of our lives and all we heard was a comforting hum that meant we could have a hot bath and watch tv. This noisy boy became a community centre. All those affected would gather around him and talk. We started a WhatsApp group and anytime a new face appeared, they were added to the group. We noted when he was filled. And this happened with comforting regularity. There were group outings to the depot to see if there was any progress and every snippet of information was posted, devoured, shared and disseminated on the group. Those with gas boiled water for those without, phones were charged in neighbours' cars, emergency lights were shared. Then special permission was granted and a new box was sourced and collected.The 15 hours it took to install were monitored, shared, discussed and filmed. And now we are a community. We know each others' names, we greet, we smile, we wave. Jonathan has helped several houses sort out connection issues. And when someone tried to access the electricity box on the pole outside our house in the middle of the night, the four beautiful lads across the road came out and had a "chat" with them. Because we are all in this together!
Paragraph. From Ward Cllr for Ward 87
Like most councilors I am personally practicing social distancing at the moment. I’ve been in contact with hundreds of people in the past 2 weeks, so it’s the responsible thing for me to do.
The best way to flatten the Coronavirus curve is to wash your hands, avoid large crowds and practice social distancing Read more here
I’m not sure if people have more time on their hands, but I am being overwhelmed with WhatsApp messages and emails. I’m having to prioritise responses, but will get back to everyone as soon as I can.
Please can I request that you check my FAQ document for information on how to log issues, when to request escalations etc. There is also extensive detail on how to log billing queries, meter reading issues etc. LINK to FAQ document
I will gladly escalate any issues that have not been attended to beyond the service level agreement for that entity. PLEASE EMAIL ME ALL NON-EMERGENCY ESCALATIONS with the supporting reference numbers and information. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
WHATSAPP 0836040404 should only be used to escalate URGENT water / sewage / power issues. Please post details as follows:
3. Contact number
4. Reference number
5. Brief detail of issue
THE DO’S AND DON’TS IN DEALING WITH CORONAVIRUS
Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects.
Stay home when you are sick. Stay at home if you can work from home.
Contact a health worker if you have symptoms; fever and a dry cough are most common.
Support local and small businesses where you can. This is going to hurt them. If you are a landlord of these small businesses, please consider giving your tenants a discount if you can afford it.
Consider the safety for your staff and do the right thing.
Check up on elderly neighbours, as well as anyone you know to be sick or vulnerable to see if they need help
DON’T touch your face.
DON’T travel if you have a fever and cough.
DON’T wear a face mask if you are well. Give it to someone who needs it.
DON’T be selfish and buy out all the toilet paper, hand sanitizer etc.
Keep safe and healthy. We can beat this!
On Saturday 3 November from 10:00-12:00 there will be a design workshop about the new water tower to go with the new reservoir planned to be placed a next to the Sentech Tower. If you have design expertise and/or an interest in attending, please register for the meeting below.
Brixton Community Forum members share their views on neighbourhood matters, and we interview Brixton residents. #BrixtonBeautiful