Creating community: Craighall Park
Guests comment continually about the how conveniently located Liz at Lancaster is and I have written often about how central Craighall Park is in Johannesburg and within the Parks area. Surrounded by green lung spaces, with neighbourhood shops and restaurants, sports facilities and two high-end malls close by, it really has the best of all worlds
But perhaps one of the Craighall Park’s most positive attributes is the sense of community. When I first moved into the suburb 50 years ago (yes … as an adult not a child … so do the math), the residents tended to be older. The Residents’ Association (one of the first established in Johannesburg) was run by older often retired volunteers, who worked hard to develop a sense of neighbourhood.
The issues tended to be linked directly to community needs and a neighbourly atmosphere. However, as business nodes expanded and encroached, so the Association took on the role of objecting to illegal and unwanted commercial developments and high-rise buildings. Another subsequent phase was the trend for Resident Associations to become involved in public space security. A contentious move, as private security is a notoriously highly contested territory with fierce competition over “local turf”. While this trend continues, there has been a welcome move back to the focus on building a strong sense of community.
Making a change
A leader in this area has been Joss du Trevou whose first initiatives were informal and individual. For several years going back to 2018, Santa has had a pop-up post box outside Joss’s house where children can post their letters directly to the North Pole.
Then a couple of years ago one of Santa’s elves came to Craighall Park with weekly clues for kids to find him (are elves boys?/girls … or they/them?)
From individual to Residents’ Association
After Joss joined the Residents’ Association in 2022, My Hood was established and his initiatives grew under the auspices of the Association.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, clues continued to go out for children to find Santa’s Elf on a Shelf:
Other Community events
On 1st September 2022, the CRA started its first running time trial (5 or 8km).This developed into a night-time trail run pre Christmas with festivities following on after the trail run.
This event was followed by a street event of Christmas lights where runners, neighbours and community members could get together in a connecting street meet-up.
However this was not only about the Craighall Park community, but also about reaching out further afield over Christmas:
In 2022 when Covid receded for a while and things “opened up”, Joss organized a comedy evening at Delta Cafe with the comedian Schalk Bezuidenhout, also a Craighall Park resident. Picnic boards were on sale and picnic blankets and bales of hay were provided by the ever generous and good- natured host, Daniel Basch – another of Craighall Parks neighbourhood treasures! It proved so popular a second evening was arranged.
So remember …