"How to be a better Jo'burger"

Cerebra CEO, Mike Stopforth, has written an article with a couple of tips about how to be a better Jo'Burger. It's hard for anyone to live in Jo'burg and not be enthralled with the various treasures that the city has hidden locked in nooks and alleys. But just as easy as it is to fall in love with the city, it's just as easy to fall out of love once you've explored the typical places - and Joburg loses it's lustre.

Stopforth says that he could never dream of living anywhere other than the _City of Gold, _we've shared some of his tips for how to feed your love affair with Joburg below.

Image: The Nelson Mandela Bridge in Braamfontein.

1. Greet Your Neighbours

There are six houses in the complex I live in. True to Jozi fashion, it has a 12-ft wall, a 24-hour guard, and a big steel gate that opens like the one in Jurassic Park. You’d think it would make sense to know each other, and yet when we moved in nobody greeted us. To be fair we didn’t greet anyone either, choosing to send out an email to the homeowners group saying “hi”.

Living in Jozi perpetuates an every person for him or herself mentality. We look out for our own. For the largest part we become very isolated from those we live closest to. Provided your neighbours aren’t actively making your life a living hell, let’s make a better effort to get to know the human beings we live a stone’s throw away from.

Image: Photo of the City of Joburg at sunset. Matthew Figueira/Gauteng.net

2. Walk to the shops

Staying with friends in Wimbledon, London recently I was surprised at how normal, and how enjoyable, walking to the shops to get groceries was. We never do that here. Partly because we live further than walking distance from the shops (no high street culture unless you live in Parkhurst where everything is bloody perfect) and partly because we’ve become predisposed to driving everywhere.

Walking to the shops, even if they’re 2 or 3 km away is a great way to see your neighbourhood, stretch your legs, and take a momentary breath from the rat race

3. Go to the park

Jozi is the world’s largest city not situated on a river, lake, or coastline and has the appearance of a rainforest (albeit manmade) from satellite imagery.

Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo oversees 2 000 – that’s right, two thousand – parks across the city. While none of them sprawl in the shadow of Table Mountain or end in dunes, a beach or crashing waves, many of them are surprisingly beautiful and largely unexplored by the average Jo’burger.

Without venturing beyond the Ring Road, you can experience the Braamfontein Spruit, an 18 km stretch of trail that stitches the Sandton Field and Study Centre, Craighall Park, Greenside, Parkhurst, Delta Park, Emmarentia and Westcliff together. You can visit the Botanical Garden, the Zoo or any one of Jo’burg’s exquisite golf courses. Country Club Johannesburg in Woodmead has fantastic trails, fishing dams, cycling tracks and more.

We are so used to telling each other that Jo’burg is not an ‘outdoors city’ that we’ve stopped trying to discover all of its outdoors treasures.

4. Avoid the Mall

While discussing life in Jo’burg with a friend, he said something that hit home hard"

I'm tired of feeling like my happiness is determined by what I buy at the mall over the weekend.

As terrible as we are at exploring Jo’burg’s outdoor treasures, we’re remarkably good at supporting her indoor ones. Everywhere. Everywhere. While I enjoy spending money on shiny things as much as the next human, malls can’t be our default solution for entertainment. Picnics in parks should be (see point 3). Or braais, ideally with neighbours (see point 1).

5. Use Public Transport

Ok so while it might not be the most public of public transports, the arrival of Uber in Jo’burg has revolutionised my approach to travel. The use of any public transport, be it Uber, cabs, minibus taxis, buses, trains or even those ridiculous tuk-tuks in the Sandton CBD is such a foreign concept to privileged Jo’burgers. Using public transport is safe (especially when you’re drinking), reduces traffic, creates jobs, connects Jo’burgers with other Jo’burgers and frees up heaps of time.

I wonder how Jo’burg might change if we allocated one day a month to using public transport exclusively. I think we’d have our eyes opened, we’d be more aware of the challenges and plights of all Jo’burgers and we’d rethink the way we see travel in this city very quickly. Dave Greenway did an in-depth analysis of the costs of using Uber versus your own transport – it makes for fascinating reading.

Mike has a few more tips that you could use, have a look at the original article here. Feel welcome to share any tips that you have on how to be a better Jo'burger with @SamCowen on Twitter.


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