Sunday, October 28, 2012

Car Pods in Obs

I once interviewed a woman who is part of cycle coop in Western Mass, and one thing she said that stuck with me was this, paraphrased:

"in a car, you're shut off from your world- whole communities only exist from the car window"

I've thought about this a lot. I shared our experiences of isolation when we first arrived in Cape Town, and our decision to buy a car when it was clear we wouldn't be able to get very many places on the train, and are waiting on biking with Eli until he turns 1. Ironically, it felt like not having a car was shutting us off from whole communities. And we've loved having a car these past few months. As we share here, we get to have many amazing adventures every week, and few of them would have been possible by train or even bike.

But many of our adventures have this uncomfortable undertone: at many of these amazing places in Cape Town you would have NO idea that white South Africans are a small minority of our population. What's more, you may have breezed by townships to get there. And perhaps this is part of why we liked having a car. It's so much easier, practically, mentally and emotionally.

Obs/Salt River, is a really diverse, interesting, fun neighborhood. The way this manifests is complicated, though. For the most part, people seem to be driving away from the neighborhood for their leisure time (even as people flock here on weekends to party).

Cape Town seems to be doing a lot to figure out how to make the city less dependent on cars. It's not there yet, but I think in a couple of years it just might be.

In the meantime, this is what I'm trying, and I'd love to hear what you're doing, too.

  • I'm trying to be less anti-social, and get to know my neighbors and my neighborhood so that the adventures outside of our neighborhood stay special, and the neighborhood is a place to stay. 
  • I'm going to try the train with the two kids, and see if it's feasible.
  • I buy what I can in our neighborhood: Coffee beans from Expressolabs at the Old Biscuit Mill, Oats, nuts, raisins, honey and peanut butter from Komati, Cheese from The Cheese Shop (Lwr Main), Eggs on the corner of Lwr Main and Albert, for Noah's experiments with using money we go to the corner store across from Woolworths financial. 
  • We're looking forward to Eli turning 1 so we can start biking. 

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