Archive for November, 2012

November 2012

By far the most fun had by four GREENinckers during office hours in the last month was taking part in the City of Johannesburg Public Transport Challenge on the 17th of October. We met at Park Station at 7am. The Challenge used “Amazing Race” rules, and each team received an envelope with clues to 3 places around Joburg they had to visit using public transport only, or else walk. The organisers had intended to ban the use of minibus taxis (not really public). On the day though, as if planned to give us habitually “car-captive” participants a real taste of the public transport commuting experience, the Rea Vaya (rapid bus system) drivers were on strike, so we were allowed to use taxis after all. Our host, the MMC for Transport, took the competitive edge off our team somewhat by saying that it wasn’t really a race, more an adventure, and announcing that she would only arrive at the Soweto Theatre, our end destination, at 12pm. We walked the couple of blocks to Joubert Park, our first stop (“A park in the CBD where there is a greenhouse”), then walked back and took a Gautrain bus on a route that would take us as far west as we could get to visit the origami pigeon sculpture in Newtown (“real and origami pigeons”). Then we decided we’d better go for breakfast, otherwise we’d end up sitting at the theatre for hours, so we walked accross to Braamfontein and had a leisurely breakfast at Narina Trogon. We then asked our waiter how we should get to Baragwanath Hospital (“largest hospital in Southern Africa”). He told us no problem, just walk one block north, catch a metro bus to Ghandi Square and then another one to Baragwanath. Which we did, but when we got there our bus driver told us there was no bus to Baragwanath, and that we should have told him where we wanted to go when we got on, not at this late juncture. So he got off the bus too, and found us a bus that would take us to the Bree Street taxi rank. Almost everyone we met, with the exception of one taxi driver – more about him later – was extremely helpful, even if the directions they were giving us were totally wrong. Commuting humour, perhaps? Anyway, we got to Bree Street and were met by more friendly, helpful people who guided us to the right taxi. By the way, Flo says all this friendliness was definitely not normal, but neither was the site of four white guys in the rank, I suppose. We discovered that it’s much nicer being inside one of these babies than sharing the road with it in a car. We had a comfortable ride to Baragwanath, and were dropped of right outside. Then we walked accross the road to the Bara transport hub, and after being sent from one end of the building to the other a few times (ha ha!) found another taxi to take us to Jabulani Mall. This time the driver wasn’t shaken out of his normal disposition by the four of us. After we’d dropped everyone elso off, we were driving in the opposite direction of the mall, and he grudgingly turned around to take us there, muttering “tourists!” under his breath. I’m sorry to say our team wasn’t one of the first to arrive at the end point, but we still got to enjoy the ride back on an open-topped bus.

As always, there are some cool posts on the facebook page. There are some pocket parks in LA funded by public-private partnerships. And you’ve got to love this “stacking green” house in Saigon, even if from the the outside it looks a bit like one of those stacks of veg crates that nearly runs you over in the supermarket isle. Elize posted these quirky illustrations. Ever wanted a caravan to tow behind your bicycle? No? Well, check these out anyway, they’re really funny, thanks Annamari. There are all kinds of sprouting products. And James posted this styling camping-themed hotel for those who aren’t entirely sure that they want to get out there.

We are working on some exciting projects all over as usual, Anton went to Uganda this week for a new project and we are also working on an amusement park in Nigeria and a mixed-use project in Kenya. Good news is that the Innovation Hub project in Botswana is also set to start up again. We’ll keep you posted on these and more.

’til next time.

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