How to clean a township

Learning from experience.

We all want a quick fix. Patience is a virtue, usually not one most of us have mastered.
We want our township to look clean, we want houses to be fixed, gardens to be planted, roads to be smooth, shacks to be repaired… and we want it now. So why can’t we just do it, I mean is it really unattainable to renovate a 1km2 space in a few months? We thought not, surly it can be done… well here is what we have learnt thus far…

Clean ups don’t work.

On Mandela day we walked the street for 2 hours picking up papers. Sure it helped. But we had a fairly large group and we still only could cover three streets. It proved not to be a sustainable solution as
soon the streets were dirty again.

Maybe a smaller space then?

This seemed to work better. We focused on cleaning and upgrading just one circle. Keeping a 10 x 10m space clean and beautiful should be easy enough? Again, easier said than done.
We did a cleanup at the begging of the year. The video above shows how we got our neighbors to start transforming what essentially was a scrap yard/rubbish dump into something that resembled more of a residential area. It was great. Yet even this process required more effort than we ever would have anticipated. It took three full truckloads of trash, hours of man power and more than one community meeting to try get people to co-operate and remove the 6 broken down cars filling up most of the space… the last car was finally removed 6 months later.

The details are unimportant but the lesson is …. It always is more complicated than you first think. And if you want something to be sustainable you need to get as many people onboard as possible. Unfortunately this doesn’t only take one conversation either… people can easily nod their heads in agreement. True participation takes delegating responsibility, compromising, incentivizing then slowly getting people to realize, what actually one would think is obvious, is good for them.

What happens if you don’t give up

We have seen that if you persist and slowly introduce change, tailoring the ideas that don’t work.. you can start to see lasting results. The best is to get a few individuals passionate and then they will get everyone else inline that may threaten the change… but it takes time for people to truly buy and own these ideas.

So where it’s easy to say “yes lets go clean streets” I have found that actually that can do damage in the long run. People get despondent when the results are not long-lasting. They finally adopt the “if you can’t fight them, join them” attitude and then any future plan of action met with resistance.

The moral of the story

As myDunoon when we consider physical evidence we want to do so carefully. We no longer want to subscribe to any quick fixes. We want something sustainable. This will take a much longer, and require specific research and understanding before implementing. However we do believe that if we do the ground work properly, we will see the environment of Du Noon changed..
We feel that the key is to sensitize our community to the problem. Then through constant persistent communication we can together design a project that will not only change the physical environment of Du Noon but change the mindsets of the people of Du Noon.
Our plan of action.

The proposed first step is simple. A Door to Door survey. Collect information around the problem of litter. Does it bother them? What would be good incentives to change their habits? Would they participate? Even though we suspect we know the answers, we can never be sure, and in asking we are planting seeds of awareness in our neighbors. So when we do finally introduce the next step, people have already felt they have participated in the process and are more likely to own the ideas.

We are currently seeking sponsorship for this project. If you would like to get involved and find out more please email us at info@mydunoon.com

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