Revamp Fish Hoek

Leigh Barrett, Fish Hoek

Fish Hoek is one of those towns that one drives through to get to anywhere else.

Kalk Bay or Simon’s Town are lovely places to wander around, explore, and shop. They are aesthetically pretty, with interesting restaurants and galleries.

So, what is it with Fish Hoek? An ugly town that squats, unloved, dirty, and forlorn. It’s not that residents don’t care, or are unenthusiastic about changing this squalid reality – but how?

In South Africa, we tend to look to government to effect change and forget that democracy can only work if it exists at community level.

When I formed the Facebook group, Revamp Fish Hoek, I was aware that other groups existed or had long given up the goal of re-creating a town where people want to linger.

The suggestions that flowed thick and fast over the subsequent days told me one thing: as desperate as we are for infrastructure changes, few people were looking at what residents could do to change the face of the town now.

There are plenty of blank canvases around town (visit www.skambha-village.org/revamp to see where) that could do with a creative coat of paint. Here are a few ideas:

1.”Paint-A-Pillar” competition. Property owners on Kommetjie Road want people to stop at those businesses, right? There are several beautifully blank, currently ugly, columns that could be made to look simply gorgeous. With permission, we can hold a contest whereby artists (or budding painters) can do their best at turning them into eye-catching, business-appealing works of art.

2. Paint the pavement. A stretch of eminently paintable pavement outside Clicks is just screaming for a revamp. This could be a monthly or otherwise regular event where people can paint the sidewalk – 3D images, things that reflect our environment, general pretty stuff. This could be a collaborative, community and fun event.

3. Art sculptures. Look up from Main Road. What do you see? Ledges that overhang the pavement that would be perfect places for large sculptures. They’re a stage to show large pieces like the Duck Parade in Oregon, or the Cow Parade, an international art exhibit – or the many spin-offs that had cities hosting sculptures of penguins, elephants, swans, and more.

4. Empty store fronts can be used as temporary art galleries and exhibition spaces. Clean those windows, invite artists to display their work – and attract potential renters to those spaces. If businesses know that people are lingering in Fish Hoek to look at these efforts, perhaps we can also attract better shopping opportunities that can encourage visitors to spend their money here?

How do we do this?

1. Permission from property owners who want to increase the value of their property. Extra points and publicity for being loyal to Fish Hoek if they want to be sponsors to cover the cost of supplies. That’s some good promotion right there.

2. Enthusiastic residents get to take pride in creating a town that represents them.

3. With these simple and affordable efforts, not only will the place look more inviting, but it might just work to attract the attention of the City Council and get the infrastructure improvements handled. Do we need new pavements? Yes, indeed. Do we need to wait for that to happen before doing anything else? Not at all.

So, who has some paint?