Voices of the City is a new, weekly feature that spotlights the everyday lives of our citizens, living and working in the city. By asking the same five questions to all our interviewees, we discover not only how our experiences of differ, but also what we share. It is a daunting task to try and capture the diverse experiences of our city’s inhabitants, but Our Future Cities feels that it is a worthy, and necessary, endeavor, in order to better understand the present and future of our city. Laura Owings, head of Media and Communications at Our Future Cities, joins us for our first edition. Laura is originally from the United States and recently moved to Cape Town from New York. She shares her thoughts on our city.
Question: What about Cape Town inspires you the most?
Answer: This may be a bit cliche, but I’d have to say the closeness of the mountain and the sea. There is just something magical about these two elements in the city, and they are a constant source of inspiration for me. I’ve always found nature had some weird power, a sort of stare into the distance and solve all your problems type of effect. But when I’ve got writer’s block, or need to be reinvigorated, I can always rely on a sunset or hike to set me straight.
Q: Do you have a secret space or place that you enjoy in the city?
A: There’s a little cafe in the CBD, a no frills hole in the wall really with a name I can’t even remember. But they have good beer, free wifi and an incredibly friendly staff who remembers me every time I come in. What I love about it is that it’s a tiny place, with a mixed crowd of creatives, after-work drinkers, locals and tourists. Everyone kind of acts like they’re in one big living room, and it’s an easy, welcoming atmosphere. These kind of unpretentious places in a city, I think really show a slice of the lifestyles around you.
Q: What was the last exciting event you attended in the city?
A: I was lucky enough to join a Changemakers Dinner at the Dutch Consulate in Cape Town recently, and it really had an effect on me. The dinners bring together a group of young innovators from the city who are involved in the most exciting creative projects. But part of that dinner involved discussing some of the cultural and social issues faced by South Africans today. Hearing the opinions and sharing in the experiences of this group gave me incredible insight into what people think about their city. It was really a special opportunity and one that you don’t often get the chance to join.
Q: What frustrates you the most about your city?
A: The MyCiti bus route really annoys me. Don’t get me wrong, I truly appreciate that Cape Town has a public transport programme, and it’s not bad on the whole. But the fact you have to take a circular route to get to your destination, rather than jump on a bus going up-town or down-town can be frustrating. Especially if that means you end up tacking on more time to your commute as a result.
Q: You can have dinner with one person living or dead. Who is it and why?
A: Julia Child, who passed away in 2004. She’s was a famous American cook who pioneered the earliest concept of ‘home cook,’ now so popular. In fact, she was one of the first cooks to appear on TV and made her specialty, French cooking, seem far less intimidating and easy to do than one would have imagined. I say her, not only because I’d hope she’d do the cooking, but also to share in the story about the road that led her to famous chef. Like me, she had a background of travel. Having lived in a number of different countries due to her husband’s work with the government, she found herself in constant cultural flux. But, she had the spirit, adventurousness and courage to make a place for herself in each city she lived. Not the least of which, was Paris, where she quite unexpectedly learned that cooking was her passion – and look where that passion took her! I think I could learn a lot from the successes and challenges she faced as an American abroad, and maybe how to do some French cooking as well.
Check out our website next week for the next Voices of the City interview.