"The challenges of fostering a sense of community" Top 5 Page for this destination Downtown Tip by CatherineReichardt

Downtown, Johannesburg: 53 reviews and 76 photos

  Entrance to Craighall Park
by CatherineReichardt
  • Entrance to Craighall Park - Johannesburg
      Entrance to Craighall Park
    by CatherineReichardt
  • 'Mosaic' made out of plastic bottle tops - Johannesburg
      'Mosaic' made out of plastic bottle tops
    by CatherineReichardt

One of the saddest impacts of crime on South African society has been the erosion of a sense of 'neighbourhood'. Retreating behind walls and high security systems with large dogs may be a sensible way to protect yourself from crime, but it also fosters a defensive, inward-looking mentality, and as a result, it's sadly not at all unusual to live in Johannesburg and not know your neighbours.

We decided a number of years ago that we weren't willing to surrender our quality of life to criminals, and were very lucky to live at that time in a suburb - Blairgowrie - with a very active Residents Association which was very proactive in organising events such as neighbourhood cleanups. The suburb was also constructed around a series of small parks (what Australians would call 'ovals') where we and a number of other locals walked our dogs each evening, and through this, we have made wonderful friends (one of whom subsequently became our son's godmother). Those friendships have helped sustain our circle of friends through the tragedies of everyday life such as bereavement and serious motor accidents, and have created an asset that may be taken for granted in other parts of the world, but is all too rare in urban Johannesburg: a sense of neighbourhood community.

We have recently moved house, and are hoping that our experience will be similar in our new community. The indications are good: the photos show a community-funded mosaic to our suburb (which was constructed on a previously neglected corner), depicting the sort of lifestyle we want for our families in our suburb. Having driven past it for a couple of years, I made a point of stopping to photograph it, and, on inspection, realised that the mosaic has been crafted from old plastic bottle tops, which is a welcome gesture towards environmental responsibility (also not a particular strength of 'throwaway' South African society).

Address: Johannesburg

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 15, 2011
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