Activating the hidden resources in our midst

It’s 6am. I pull on my takkies. I’m going for a run.

I’ve marked the new route carefully. Exactly 4.4km long.

It’s in Somerset West – the neighbourhood between Erinvale Estate, the Helderberg Nature Reserve, Hillcrest Road and Lourens River, as it flows through Radloff Park.

A neat rectangle.

Perfect for running, jogging, cycling. Or just casual evening strolls.

But so what, you ask?

You see, this is not just an exercise route, but a crucial part of a neighbourhood safety plan.

In this fiscally-constrained time, unlocking latent resources is the new frontier.

In the sphere of public transport, it was believed there was a shortage – of buses, minibuses, trains.

But Uber said no: “No, there is no shortage. Look at all these private cars, on precisely the same route. They are staring you in the face. Here is a mechanism to unlock private cars as a public transport resource.”


On the perceived shortage of accommodation, AirB&B said: “No, there is no shortage. Look at all these private homes. Here is a mechanism to unlock them.”

Equally, one could argue there’s a critical shortage of safety resources.

But is there?

There’s certainly no shortage of people. So what mechanism, then, will unlock us, the people?

Firstly, we need to do it for ourselves. On the streets.

As we populate our public spaces, we unlock ourselves, as individuals, as a safety resource.

As our neighbourhood’s “eyes and ears”. Reporting every danger, directly to each agency.

These are our first steps towards holding the capable, responsive state to account.

Second, as we jog, we recruit partners along the way.

First stop is the Helderberg Nature Reserve. A chat with their staff about safety and security.

Then a stop at the local primary school. Then the squash club, the church, the cricket club.

Then the local businesses at the petrol station.

All these institutions are now our safety partners too. Their personnel, their parents, their pupils.

We initiate live, healthy relationships, uniting us all.

These institutions offer a great number of unexpected resources, too – like leadership.

The headmasters and religious leaders, in particular, as champions, mentors.

Third, as we move through our neighbourhood, we collaborate with a long list of state agencies.

The department municipality, with their various departments – roads and parks.

Cultural Affairs and Sport, Education. All the schools’ governing bodies, and the multitude of partners in their School Contingency Plans. United.

A jogging route of just 4.4km long may seem short.

But it’s not about the run. It’s a daily connection between abundant resources, uniting around safety.

At first glance, many of our neighbourhoods appear to have such limited resources.

But if we look carefully, if we peel the scales from our eyes, we’ll see a small army.

And great leadership would certainly help our cause.

Leaders on the ground. Who can captivate, activate, mobilise, inspire.

We can do all this ourselves. Armed with our purpose and power, as active citizens.

One step, one street at a time.

Look carefully. We are many.

Mining our latent resources is the new frontier.