Community spirit and heritage main focus

Community spirit and preserving the heritage of Grassy Park is the main objective of the non-profit organisation, Community ThinkTank SA.

“As an organisation we have development in our streets, communities and neighbourhoods as our core focus,” says Robin Oakes, founder of the organisation.

The organisation says Grassy Park still has a sense of community.

“The Grassy Park community, is a Cape Flats pioneering community, with integral links to the developing Cape Town of the 1800`s, and has a rich legacy of community building, community pride and the ensuing community spirit which have developed through the years. Our history and heritage speak for itself and since 2015 we have developed the Grassy Park Community Heritage Preservation Council to further uncover, share and house our local heritage,” he says.

The Kannemeyer family developed the first school on the Cape Flats, namely EC Primary in 1904. The Harmony Society, a civic organisation, was founded by a janitor, farmer, insurance agent and a teacher during the 1920’s and they built the first hall, The Harmony Hall, on the Cape Flats.

“This society further developed the first burial society on the Cape Flats, the Leliebloom Society, which is still in operation today. Lotus River Primary School is the first ‘board school’ and the Harmony Society helped to establish the school,” Oakes says.

Other heritage include the work of the Independent Order of True Templars founded in 1922 to guide the communities against alcohol and drugs. This organisation is still alive in Grassy Park today.

“We remember the property owning, pre-apartheid resilience of the early 1900 ‘pondokkie’ families of Parkwood, ‘the middletown of the Plumstead Flats and the families within Kok se Bos, Frikkadel-dorp en Zeekoevlei bungalows who had lived with fortitude within the Grassy Park of the 1800’s to 1960 and the onset of apartheid,” Oakes says.

According to him, family stories of organic farming, home crafting, clothes making, furniture making, Cape traditional home foods and preserves, culinary excellence and a rich culture of home grown medicinal herbs and remedies are remembered by young and old.

“It is against this backdrop that Grassy Park had built a strong community spirit largely pre-dating the onset and onslaught of family and community destabilising apartheid. In Grassy Park, entrenched families remember how they used to share excess produce and goods with local neighbours, heal families with herbs, fellowship together, grow food in their yards and many other community activities. A culture of sharing, the feeling that ‘your child is my child’ and true community spirit, is what we are trying to revive in Grassy Park,” he says.

The organisation is hosting different outreach programmes and workshops. One of the workshops is the Craft Route where locals are encouraged to adapt some of their craft to reflect the heritage in Grassy Park.

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