John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Rather, it's about a neat community art project dealing with old tires.
The neighborhood of Lavender Hill in Cape Town is not known for getting good press, being so overrun with violent narco-gangs that its central green space is called the "killing fields." So it's nice to see a feel-good story about community art coming out of the place, even if it's a drop in the bucket toward addressing the neighborhood's enduring social woes.
ABOVE is an anonymous 30s-something street artist from California who's known for his upward-pointing arrows and humorous phrases. He was recently painting in Lavender Hill – known by some as "apartheid's dumping ground" because its original residents were forced from central Cape Town by the ruling whites – when he found that he had time for a side project. Although the neighborhood doesn't have lots of money or opportunity, it is surprisingly rich in abandoned tires. ABOVE picked up on that fact and decided to use the old rubber to construct a towering totem pole in the middle of town.
The artist had plenty of helpers in the form of local kids who had become curious over his presence in the neighborhood. ABOVE writes:
Each child chose a color to paint their tire. Once dried we joined all the tires together, and stacked the colorful spectrum into one unified totem pole. South Africa is an extremely diverse country and each color of the tires represented different races. As is in life, when we all work together and help each other out we are able to grow and become larger than life! The enthusiasm and smiles of the children touched me deeply! I was honored to introduce them to painting, as many of them have never held a brush or painted before.
They named the artwork "UBUNTU" for that elusive southern African philosophy of morality and interconnectedness. It's nice to know that the kids can still have a good time in the dumping ground:
(Ht/t Wooster Collective)