Our global sense of community is diminishing. With the rise of technology throughout the world. You no longer need to hop over to your neighbor’s house to borrow something or chat about the latest news. Instead, you could drop them a message or tweet about it.
Communities have developed from people we live our lives around to people we casually socialize with, often in an online capacity only. Even worse, that circle is shrinking to the people we socialize with in order to do business. Communities are becoming more about economic interests than shared experience.
In the past few decades, a multitude of campaigns have flourished that are bringing back the age-old values of the community, creating microcosms of unity within cities and within suburbs. Dividing maps into neighborhoods—places that were already there, but just needed a name and a spot on a map to be externally (and in some cases, internally) established – builds on the reputation and environment that each offers. This provides not just a sense of identity, but assists in the navigation of the city too (think New York, Paris, London etc). In South Africa, Cape Town’s Central Business District is commonly referred to as “Town” or just “the CBD.” There is a lack of identity.
The Name Your Hood (NYH) campaign in South Africa is changing this. From Mouille Point, which borders the Atlantic Sea Board in Cape Town, to Moerat, the newly named Hood in Gugulethu (one of Cape Town’s townships), each neighborhood represents the uniqueness and variety of lifestyles that make up South Africa.
These new neighborhoods create a view and insights into South Africa that is more than the international stereotype of crime, white beaches, surfing and safaris.
The idea of neighborhood branding in Cape Town came to South African founder Bruce Good in 2008, when he lived in New York City. He fell in love with the city while completing a semester at the NYU Stern School of Business and was taken by how strong and well defined the city’s communities were. It all boiled down to the neighborhood culture.
“NYC is effectively like an evocative patchwork of neighborhoods, and I was struck by how pervasive neighborhood pride is in NYC,” Good said. “Directions are often given by neighborhood, and shops and locals rally around and are proud to be a resident of say SoHo, Tribeca or Dumbo.”
“Name Your Hood uses a transparent and democratic process to decide on community names in South Africa. In some neighborhoods, new Hood names have already been established, and the organization works to solidify and bolster them, In others, such as in the township of Gugulethu, we work with the community to create Hood names and identities to what was previously just one big homogenous area.”
Name Your Hood works with architects, planners, and local residents to set about mapping neighborhoods in the city, with an awareness of sensitive issues like apartheid and racial inequalities.
Eight ‘Hoods demarcated in Gugulethu, seven kilometers from the center of Cape Town, have now been named (the campaign ended in March 2013). NYH has plans to enter many more townships and cities throughout South Africa. This ground-level branding hopes to assist in the moving on from the apartheid-created space into one which gives Gugulethu, and similar communities more pride, a sense of ownership and a solid identity.
At an even deeper lever, NYH ran another initiative in Gugulethu called 'Name Your Street.’ This campaign used the same democratic process as NYH, and the people of Gugulethu suggested street names, instead of the usual government action of changing names without local consent. From suggestions like Gucci and Hope Street to Steve Biko Road and Mamtolo Avenue, we wanted to replace the current 91 generic street names (called Native Yards, and number from NY1 all the way to NY91) which were instituted during apartheid.
NYH is recreating the age old understanding of the term ‘community’ in South Africa’s cities, townships and suburbs by creating a platform for those who want to discover the richness of a particular area. NYH creates websites for each Hood
. Each site represents individual Hoods and what they stand for, and includes places to eat, stay and shop as well as events. The site is also a hub for local history and people, and is a way of deepening a sense of pride and identity in the community.
Cape Town Hoods aim to be the go-to guide for locals, visitors and prospective residents and business people in each of these Hoods. These names are platforms used to bring people closer together.
Support local. Be inspired. Have your say. Make history.
On April 27, 2013, host a Neighborday party. Join this global celebration and follow the conversation at good.is/neighboring.