PART African Liveability and migration · Free

PART B – Designing for Humanity: Don’t judge a book by its coverA proposal to the Cape Town Partnership(CTP)Developed in collaboration with the City ofCape Town, CTP encourages citizens to shape communities into “a more liveable African city” with a grandersense of community. Examples of some of the initiatives they have spearheadedinclude:·        City walk·        African Liveability and migration·        Free Wi-Fi in public spaces·        Placemaking·        The FringeThe Human Library will be proposed as adesign for humanity initiative in line with the ethos of CTP.IntroductionThe way people recognize themselves in theworld is shaped by a system of beliefs and values, attitudes, customs andsocial relations. In essence, this defines culture, which is unique tocommunities and societies. It shapes how people interact with each other, andhow they tend to feel and act. In modern times, humanity is further moulded bythe media, with preconceived western world ideas of hopes, dreams and fears.The desire for better lives drives self-determination and personal freedom.

Inthe same breath, it segregates masses according to race, gender, sexualpreference, and or religion.  Certainly those differences exist and arereal. Separation due to them becomes apparent when society ignores thosedifferences and opts to isolate the connections thereby affecting humanbehaviour and inherent happiness. The fundamental dignity of people is thusdevalued as alluded to by Lorde (1984:114) – “Thisresults in a voluntary isolation or false and treacherous connections. Eitherway, we do not develop tools for using human difference as a springboard forcreative change within our lives.”The solution lies in getting people to coexist and cross social boundariesbetween different identity groups. The three fundamental human needs are food,shelter, and clothing.

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Max-Neef (1992), in his definition, builds on the socio-economicand environmental quality of what it means to be human by adding the followingpsycho-social needs to Maslow’s hierarchy. The human experience prospers whenwants and desires meet basic needs, across cultures. Figure 9 further exploreshow one can account for those needs.a)     Physiological needs: food,shelter and clothes.b)     Safety and protectionc)      Love and affection: throughfamily and friendships d)     Self-esteem and affiliation e)     Self-actualizationMax-Neef echoes that when human developmentpeaks at self-actualisation, it will have satisfied the highest level of need,culminating in economic growth. Figure 1: Max-Neef’s FundamentalHuman Needs.

Source: http://moozedesign.com/images/portfolio/actual/bhn.jpg  The world of today already has “welldeveloped theories of built systems”. However in their current state,these are inadequate to effectively drive humanity’s universal quest of atransition towards more sustainable futures. As such the onus lies with thedesigners of today who must develop innovative solutions that go a step furtherby reflecting theories of natural and social systems. This in essence is thebasis of the emerging design paradigm of Transition Design which takes centrestage in leading the evolution towards sustainable futures.

Design has theoverarching capability to create holistic and sustainable solutions in theprocess of meeting both the quantitative and qualitative dimensions of humanneeds in an emotionally rich manner. Design, as tool of solution, contextualisesthe values and quality of life of people in a particular locale, by bridgingthe gap between the users and innovation. When it perpetuates publicparticipation, it strengthens the sustainability of societies. The backgroundsection noted below, refers to the complexity of community living and relatesthe discriminatory attitudes of people towards each other. The proposal, the “human library” is introduced as a meansto break the walls of divide in today’s society otherwise socially conditionedwith assumptions and limitations. It appeals to the African spirit of ubuntu1(working together) as a design solution to challenges faced by South Africans,increasing consciousness to daily decisions and how they affect those aroundus.Case study: Social prejudicesIn February 2017, Eastleigh Primary Schoolin Edenvale, Gauteng, issued a letter advising “foreign parents” to ensure theschool had up-to-date records of the residential permit documentation for theirchildren within the following week.

Failure to do this was noted to result inthe children being reported to the police. This letter trended on social media,with people expressing various opinions and views on the matter. While somesupported the school, others were perturbed by the extent of discrimination inthe stance taken by the school.  It is imperative for all foreigners livingin South Africa to have documentation allowing them to legally stay in aforeign country2. Dependingon their reason for migration, sometimes foreigners choose to stay illegallypartially because of a fear of being deported. This is where the line becomesmurky between the human and constitutional rights they are entitled to, hencethe social media uproar.

The complexity of this situation is explained in an articlein the Mail & Guardian, Rights offoreign kids trampled on, which responded by laying out the constitutionalright to education for all. A disgruntled comment by one, Yvonne Horak,(Figure 10) in response to the article, expressed a perception which may comeacross as selfish, but in honesty describes the fears and challenges a SouthAfrican society typically has to deal with. The fear, a little justified, stemsfrom a place of not knowing or comprehending the life of these people lead.

Itprompted within the author of this paper, a question of how to integrate peopleof different backgrounds into one without adding to the anxiety of people.  The prejudice andmarginalisation of African foreign nationals in this country, happens in thecontext of a society struggling to combat societal injustice, emanating back toits history of apartheid. There is a common unjust perception in the workforcethat foreigners are more reliable, polite and motivated to work harder whilelocals come across as entitled and waiting for hand-outs.

Some of the resultingchallenges are that employment opportunities for South African citizens arelost, and the health system becomes overburdened. This further drivesunhappiness and disdain towards the “aliens”, although leadership may call forAfrican unity.  Figure 2: Comment on a Mail article (23 June 2017) “Rightsof foreign kids trampled on.” A society whereforeign nationals can be integrated and respected as productive and competitivecitizens is imperative. People migrate to South Africa for various reasons andrefugees are not a unique situation to this country.According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), nearly 60million people are forcibly displaced worldwide. A third of these are refugeesleaving their homes to find a better life in a foreign country.

UNHCR lists thesocial dynamics the current population has to deal with. There has been an increasein people seeking refuge in foreign countries or neighbouring communities,fleeing from:·        War and conflict·        Natural disasters (Figure 11)·        Gender, Race and culture,Sexual orientation or Religious and political persecution·        Economic migration·        Development induceddisplacement Figure 3: Rising sea levelsgradually stealing coastlines in cities such as Miami. (Source – http://www.bbc.

com/future/story/20170628-how-to-best-manage-earths-land) Figure 4: Population statistics offorcibly displaced people. (Source – UNHCR 2017) The most popularnationalities that have migrated to South Africa are from Zimbabwe, Mozambique,Kenya, Lesotho (economic immigrants) and Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia(as war refugees).According tothe (StatsSA 2011) census, 2.

2 million foreigners live in South Africa, estimatingthe undocumented migrants between 500,000 and one million. A large number ofZimbabweans have fled to South Africa as a result of instability in Zimbabwe,with many living as undocumented migrants in South Africa. The tables 1-3 areresults from surveys conducted by the South AfricanMigration Project (2014), indicate the reaction of South Africans to theinflux. Table 1: Impressions of migrants Source- South African Migration Project 2014 Table 2: Perception of impacts ofmigration Source – South African Migration Project 2014 Table 3: Acceptance of migrants Source- South African Migration Project 2014  There are many spheres of society who canplay a contributory role towards the full integration of “aliens” intocommunities by assisting refugees with food and shelter as much as is possible.

§  Non-governmental organisations, §  Local and National authorities, §  Companies and, §  the community itself Figure 5: Reception and integration of refugees. (Source – WDO, 2016) However, one of the major challenges is theirreception and integration into local communities, against a backdrop ofignorance and negative prejudices. The design proposal, coined as the humanlibrary, as outlined in the next section, focuses on the role individuals canplay to better their acceptance of what is unknown and unfamiliar to them. Itis imperative to find means of evoking a sense of kinship in the unwanted, suchthat a future together can be imagined and fulfilled.

   Most opinions of refugees are shaped by themedia, rather than through first-hand contact or personal stories. Unfortunately,some stories shared by the media perpetuate the divide. As social disparityupsurges, the world has to find ways to live harmoniously, in just and peacefulenvirons.

This disarray brings to attention the need for social integrationfrom a community perspective. The obstacles faced by immigrants, fuel designchallenges.  The questions designers aretasked with resolving are:§  How can we create better connections between cultures? §  How can a community prepare itself to socially accept others andbecome empathetic to cultures out of their norms? There is need for social ventures specificallycreated to reveal prejudices and stigmas, and then address them on rationallevels thereby invoking a sense of community.   Figure 6: Imagining the futuretogether. (Source: Author – from the Sustainable Development module journalsubmission 2017)The Human Library”What is design but the application of our humanity, and thesearch for excellence, elegance and solutions to the problems that we face? …

We change the inevitable by combining with the aspirational.” Cape TownMayor Patricia de Lille, at theWorld Design Capital Host City signing agreement ceremony, 2012 The proposal herewith outlined is a humancentred design solution towards social integration known as the “Human Library”. It is inspired as asolution by a Matt Chanoff’s response to a question on Quora3about, “Who is the most interestingperson you’ve ever sat next to on an airplane?” He describes a situationwhich required a willingness to stepout of supposed comfort zones. In the extract from below, Chanoff enlightens how he changed his own point of view of someonewhom he had prejudged and formed an opinion of, just by looking at them, followingthe simple conversation they had.

Figure 7: Extract from Matt Chanoff’s response on Quora to the Question: “Who is the most interesting person you’ve ever sat next to on an airplane?”  Chanoff illustrates that when humanityexpresses compassion and empathy towards each other, it increases human consciousness,thereby cultivating a harmonious connection to the earth. “It is through weakness and vulnerability that most of us learn empathyand compassion and discover our soul” (Tutu, 2004:25). It isat the peak of self-actualisation, when our souls are grounded, that we findthe true balance between life and nature.  Further research inspired by Chanoff’sresponse led to the discovery of like-minded beings that created anorganisation designed to challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue,popularly known as the Human Library4.It is about creating a community of experiences and teaching people to appreciateand accept diversity.

People get to be reminded that they have more in commonthan they can initially think. Communities are encouraged to have open andhonest conversations as a means to fight against prejudiced lifestylesotherwise met with misunderstanding. Developed in Copenhagen, Denmark, in theyear 2000, as a Stop The Violence5project submission  for the RoskildeFestival6,this is a social movement which has become a global movement, designed to stircultural and societal imbalances by mere use of observation and reflection as ameans to integrate social divisions through conversations. On this platform,people share their personal life experiences thereby dropping the curtainbarrier between perceived societal norms and stimulating hope for a unitedfuture. “We need other human beings inorder to be human. I am because other people are. A person is entitled to astable community life, and the first of these communities is the family” (Tutu, 2004:25).

 The success of the library lies ininformation shared to shed light on individual’s real life situations receivedwith open minds. It provides a setting where hard to have conversations becometools to create awareness and to build communities. This social interventionhas the capability to push for national integration by threading interpersonalconnections to optimise tolerance of gender, race, and sexual preference,tribal or ethnic divisions. The proposal seeks to contextualise the humanlibrary as a solution to the problem of marginalisation, beyond the example ofrefugees as described in the beginning of this section. Tangible humanconnections are imperative to link people from all walks of life and inflict amental paradigm shift with a long term goal of behavioural impact throughchanging mind-sets.

In a way, the concept of the library roots back to oraltradition, a form of transmitting indigenous knowledge, culture, values andbeliefs from one generation to another through storytelling. It was a socio-culturalpractice of diffusing information in ways that fascinated the listeners, and unifiedcommunities in kinship.The Library in context Figure 8: The Human libraryintroduces design as a tool to deal with individual and collective challenges “Howare we to understand each other, if we do not have the opportunity to talk toeach other?”RonniAbergel (Inventor of the Human Library) The metropolitan municipality of Cape Townis located on the Table Bay shores of the Western Cape Province of SouthAfrica. With a population of 3.74 million (Census 2011), it is one of the mostmulti-cultural cities of the world and a major employment hub for expatriatesand immigrants, including those from other South African cities. Generally,South Africa is dubbed as the “Rainbow Nation”with its melting pot of an ethnically diverse populace. There is an intricateblend of races, cultural identities, languages and ethnic bonds which sometimesencourages social divide between all the social groups.  The (StatsSA 2011)census indicates that the ethnic and racial compositionof Cape Town is:§  Coloureds – 42.

4%§  Blacks – 38.6%§  Whites – 15.7% §  Asians or Indians – 1.

4%§  Other – 1.9% Riddled with a history of discriminationand segregation, post-apartheid South Africa has political, economic and socialinequalities to contend with. Some of the issues people deal with in the uneven social fabric of CapeTown are: §  Violence – gangsterism and criminality§  Abuse – drugs and substances, sexual,mental, physical abuse§  Economic disparities§  Homelessness§  Health i.e.

HIV, mental health,§  Religious beliefs§  Xenophobia and Homophobia  Figure 9: HIV positive woman opensup about the stigma she faces. Source: http://humanlibrary.org/books/hiv-plus/ Prejudices have been expressed, loudly andquietly against some of those who end up defined by one of the boxes listedabove.

In essence, these are the people with stories thereby referred to asliving “library books”. With an open mind, they can volunteer to share thestories of how their lives have been affected living under constant judgementand mockery.  Interested people chose tolisten to any stories of their choice, and respectfully engage with questionsordinarily considered as rude. This is referred to as being a “reader”.  The process  Conversations bring stories closer toreality and forces individuals to challenge common prejudices and adversities. Asan alternative teaching method, personal stories can be shared to promotedialogue and awareness of a part of the community that is otherwise ostracised.

People volunteering their stories are then referred to as “books”, while the observers are “readers”. Readers come into conversation with a book of theirchoice for a short period of time. Books on the other hand can expect andshould appreciate questions. The idea of “books” and “readers” allows alevel of honesty in the face to face dialogues that is rare in casualinteraction. These are people who have gone through experiences that thereaders have no personal correlation to. Treating human beings as books thatreaders can check out to learn something they could not have cultured in anyother way. Essentially, the exercise and experience relates to the concept ofborrowing a book from the library for a specific period of time. Depending onthe programme allowed in a venue, it can be for as short as half an hour.

Within this time period, reader(s) browse the list of open books and can thenchose one that challenges their way of thinking. Generally, the conversationshould start with the book narrating their experiences, leading into questionsfrom the reader(s). Possible venue ideas are:§  Schools – the concept of the library can be introduced into thecurriculum as part of after school activities. When young minds are ignited, ageneration of creative thinkers is realised. That is the greatest resource toattain a sustainable future.  §  Community centres – the city has many such centres in all suburbs,which remain familiar ground for many residents of that community to feelcomfortable to share their stories. Besides the free entrance that reducescosts for the exercise, hosting in a community centre zones in oncontextualising the library to each specific neighbourhood with regards to theprejudices they face. §  As part of ongoing festivals or events such as First Thursdays7or Infecting the City8.

 Working with specific neighbourhoods, thelong term goal of the library is to establish a database of books contextual tothat area and host regular events in different spaces, with the aim to achievethe following:§  Human expression through connection and communication in diversegroups with ethnic and lifestyle differences§  Creating sustainable and inclusive living environments for the people through community cohesion§  Believe in each other’s worth and contribution and adding value to acommunal sense of place and belonging§  Changing the face of exclusion and isolation into creating anenvironment that shapes our well-being§  Ultimately achieve the ubuntuobjective and transcend into self-actualised beings through consideration ofthose around us as a lesson we teach the future generations.   Figure 10: Yes I can! – changing behavioural mind-sets one library at a time.Thehardest thing to open is a closed mind.Ahmed Kathrada Conclusion: Designing for social impact”Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizenscan change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead, Cultural anthropologist (1901-1978) Designed for social impact, the library isa low cost interactive initiative that will leave a lasting effect on manylives and will improve the quality of life in cities. The best way to shape thefuture is to consciously and mindfully create it. It is our responsibility to nurturea different narrative that bridges the divide.

Effective use of design candrive economic, social, cultural, and environmental development, throughincreased public participation. We live in a transcultural and ever evolvingcentury where quality of life should be at the forefront of design. Connecting socialmovements within the city as a design imperative will contribute towardsresolving complexities of this era and very well reconcile communities and addressgeneral dilemmas. This is mental poverty alleviation. 1 Ubuntu: an African idiom meaning “I am what I am because of who weall are”, synergising mutual respect and human dignity.2 Residence or Asylum permits issued through the Department of Home Affairs3 Quora is a socialmedia platform where members share knowledge and real life experiences onvarious questions or topics.4 Social intervention designed by brothers Ronni and Dany Abergel andcolleagues, Asma Mouna and Christoffer Erichsen5 Non-governmental youthorganisation raising awareness and mobilizing youngsters against violencefollowing the brutal attack of the founders’ friend6 Annual Danish musicfestival7 Galleries, Theatres, Restaurants and Retailers, in a city centrezone, open their spaces to the public late into the night, on the firstThursday of every month, to allow people to explore the city’s cultural wealth onfoot.8 4-day socially engaging annual festival for local artists fromvarious disciplines to showcase their talents in communal city spaces

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