Archive for March, 2013

Oranjezicht City Farm

For the past few years I have driven past the old Oranjezicht Bowling Green on many occasions. The bowling club, which operated for 50 years, closed down leaving this prime piece of city land abandoned in its wake. Wasted green space in a city fast running out of the precious green stuff.

Oranjezicht City Farm

Oranjezicht City Farm

Fortunately local residents, led by Cheryl Ozinsky, saw a future for the plot. They proposed an inner city farm to local city officials, jumped through the necessary bureaucratic hoops and within a month had received permission.

With the help of some generous donations (about R500 000 at last count) led by the Madam Zingara Group donating R100 000; and a group of volunteers, the once derelict land has now being transformed into an oasis of fast greening soil – an inner city organic farm.

This one plot of land won’t change the world, however it shows what can be achieved with a little bit of land, a lot of initiative and people willing to give up their time, energy and in some cases money, for the greater good. This does sound a bit grandiose to be honest but the idea is not to solve world hunger but to use local land more productively and make organically grown veg available to residents without the carbon footprint attached.

It sets an example of what can be achieved with limited space; be it a small balcony or a patch of garden, you can grow your own veg without too much hassle or expense.  I have

Volunteers hard at work

Volunteers hard at work

now started noticing many other disused pieces of land in the City Bowl and Atlantic Seaboard region and would love the veggie growers to get hold of them before the developers do. We do not need more suffocating concrete monstrosities.

My five year old and I popped in to take a closer look. The youngster was keen and quickly entered into the spirit of things, planting protective hedges as well as peas and spinach while chatting up some local talent at the same time. He loved it and spent a healthy and productive couple of hours getting his hands dirty, learning about growing food and generally having a good time.  We have returned and he again pitched in, as did mom and dad this time. I have seen many kids there and I think it’s a great way of introducing them to alternative means of obtaining healthy food other than procuring them at the local supermarket. It’s also fun and educational.

The land was originally a farm with a weekly market where they used to ring a bell to call residents to buy. The bell still remains and I look forward to it ringing again when the produce is ready for sale. This is a great way of getting the community involved in a collective project, making unused land productive and educating kids and adults alike.




Rocking for the big Guy

I recently guided members of a rock band up Table Mountain. The band is not just any band but a Jesus rock band, for want of a better description.Hillsong


They were the two lead singers, the manager and a marketing guy.

The band is internationally known in Jesus circles and travels the world playing to devoted followers; they were in South Africa playing to fans nationwide.

Now I am a secular Jew and not big into religion. I respect most moderate believers, but am not mad for bible bashers, Koran wavers, torah tossers or even Bhuda buddies who want to convert me. I’m not into any god squad of any sort but am still intrigued by the cult-like following most religions have in some form or another …by this I mean hardcore followers who take their God seriously.

Despite this I accepted an offer to go see Hillsong United perform at His People’s Church near N1 City.

I arrived to see a small crowd queuing; Mike, the logistics guy, met me and ushered me into the Green Room where the band hangs out before their performance. He introduced me to a few people, while I looked around trying to spot any God groupies … nada.

I was issued a guest pass and shown inside the hall to a special seating section. The hall is large and was packed wall to wall with eager fans. The sold out signs had gone up long ago; 3 500 Strong, the crowd was a real mixed bunch of colours and ages and all of them amped for the concert. It was a hot summer’s night and pretty hot and stuffy in the packed arena.

So there I was, a lone Jew (I don’t imagine too many more in that throng) surrounded by a sea of Happy Clappers/Rockers; bring it on.

To reiterate, this was no gospel show – this was a full on rock concert. The stage had two enormous screens on either side and a large LED screen in the middle. The band itself is 10 strong and produces a powerful sound. They are a professional act who sells hundreds of thousands of albums every year. Sure they have a built-in market but these guys were good.

After some touchy feely intros, a few giveaways and some prayers the show got under way. The guys rocked. They were really good, and monotonous lyrics aside I was impressed. But seriously, how much can you sing about the Big Guy? Besides, nothing rhymes with Jesus.

My issues aside, people were feeling the spirit and were fully into the show. They looked as spaced out as any concert goer on any number of Schedule 2+ drugs but this crowd was high on love … it was something to see.

Now as a non-believer I watched the crowd with a sense of wonder and a touch of jealousy. It must be nice to believe so strongly in something that it gives strength and a feeling of contentment.

I can never have what they have; I’m a Jew, and its part of who I am no matter what my practices or beliefs are, but I do not believe in God in any form or function.

Nevertheless it was an interesting evening out and I think this band has huge potential for a wider audience – but I suppose it would not be the same for them if they played for cash and not Jesus. Who knows?