Tell us about the community that you engage? eg. economic conditions, political structures, norms and values, demographic trends, history, and experience with engagement efforts.
Growing Parks works closely firstly with the Msunduzi Municipality which is an apathetic, corrupt community. Proposals were often lost, meetings were not attended or not documented, and written responses and confirmations of agreements virtually non existent. Over the years we had to do their job for them and send them everything from legislation to certification to land survey and GIS maps. The second community is the general public who tend to overstep boundries with garden staff and cleaners. Growing Parks has established a good repotoire with the local police due to the constant infringement of criminal and violent elements of the community. The safety of workers and the maintenance of the public park against vandals and criminals is largely due to the combined effort of the police service, private NPO's like Safe City that operate locally and Growing Parks. The vital element is clear, frequent, effective communication with important parties working towards a common goal.
Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project
Growing Parks was founded by a married couple with children. Farhana Vally, an Occupational Therapist, often took her children to the local park over weekends because crime syndicates operated from the park during the week. The park was filthy with waste, litter, broken glass and aggressive vagrants. The play equipment was always broken and often hurt the children. After numorous complaints to the municipal Parks department and always being told "no funds available to clean and maintain parks" the couple decided to do something constructive. Thus Growing Parks was founded in 2006 and after 5 frustrating years the first project has been successfully completed and the municipality now wants to broaden their partnership with Growing Parks. Delapidated parks in various comminities have been identified as feasible projects. The future of Growing Parks is clear and soon we hope to have raised enough funds to create a piece of paradise in every commmunity within the Msunduzi municipality.