Cycle and smell the coffee
FOR some, the power of citizenship seems to occur once in a four-year cycle when they hurriedly cross their aspirations on a sheet and drop it into a wish box, symbolically signalling their hopes and wishes for a system to heal, build and protect them over the next cycle.
Others explore alternative ways of getting involved in a society that appears to be hungry for an expanded view on life, offering deeper involvement in the way it is being shaped around them.
Such an opportunity surfaced in Cape Town this week, when word spread of a group of coffee lovers eager to combine their taste for caffeine with stretching their perceptions of city border limitations.
In return, they tasted the watermark of a bigger world that exists around them - one that seems a bit out of reach at the moment given our self-hate status.
What started as an invitation for coffee between two friends on Twitter at Khayelitsha’s first coffee shop turned into an adventure involving bicycles, trains, urban explorers and local-local tourists united in their urge to break the pattern of how they interact with daily life as they know it.
Everyone played along nicely.
As soon as the conversation had a hash-tag (#CoffeeMob in this case) it attracted interest from those who can make the search for fulfilment - and the journey it takes to get there - possible. (For those who are not familiar with Twitter, the hash key groups together conversations on a similar topic.)
In record time local bicycle organisations joined in, friends eager to experience the ride followed – and conveniently, Cape Town’s Metro Rail offered a train for the rapid transport of all cyclists and urban explorers to a part of the city most of us have never been to.
The Department of Coffee brews below the steps that lead to Khayelitsha station. Making your way through a commercial hive of food, clothing, music and other trades, the wide smiles of the young baristas in bright orange gear welcome you with a large cup of delicious Amercino for only R7.
Exhausted by the thrill of a train ride that got me there, I added a muffin for the grand sum of R2.50, knowing I would cycle off the kilojoules in no time.
The experience of a day devoid of political T-shirts and corporate banners offered a group of like-minded explorers a break from the routine they know (and still love) so well.
The ease of jumping on a train – bicycle under arm – and reaching a world that remains hidden for many. The view of a familiar city from Lookout Hill nearby to rearrange your own image of what you think you know.
That act of deciding to do it.
I feel active and alive, not because I telephoned my councillor to complain about the nuisance of a bicycle on the promenade (which I’m told has been done by some).
I feel involved not because I burnt down a farm to express my very real and legitimate complaint about the rising cost of my living versus the reality of my income and the state of the economy upon which it hinges.
Those are tried, tested and tired ways of expressing citizenship in my view.
Rather, I feel the energy of somebody who dared to open a business far away from the trusted tourist wallets of the World’s Favorite City (as voted by The Telegraph recently).
I feel free from cycling safely on the new lanes built partly by my minuscule tax contribution in a young city centre that is carving its way into the hearts of the high standards its big mother demands about one hour away by train.
And I share the dreams of the maiden #coffeemob explorers that took a break from what they know to see a world they thought they knew.
Adriaan explores his active citizenship on Twitter as @aiBester where he rallied with members and fans of @FutureCapeTown to join in this first edition of #CoffeeMob.