When Didi called me two weeks ago to ask me whether I’d be willing to cook at a fundraising dinner for her, I didn’t have to think twice because I love her. She’s one of my favourites in Cape Town and I admire her entrepreneurial spirit and courage. However, when she told me what she needed the cash for, I became really passionate in helping her to create a memorable night, which would raise funds for her to participate at the Placemaking Leadership Forum in Vancouver from the 12th to the 18th of September.
While I am busy writing this post, Didi is already in Canada, joining “activists and leaders
from around the world to envision a place-led future for cities.” Besides sharing these beautiful shots of the night, taken by my friend and photographer Oscar O’Ryan from Darkroom Contemporary, I feel like I want to also shed some light on what motivated Didi to travel all the way from South Africa to Canada.
Lastly, I would like to thank everyone who was generous enough to support Didi’s big dream by contributing in making this night as magical as it was.
Fundraising dinner to transform SA’s public spaces
Urbanization has crept into all our lives like an inevitable and unstoppable force. And although it affects us in so many ways on a daily basis, we take it almost entirely for granted. I mean, who sits at a cafe, sips on her flat-white and contemplates on the effects of urbanisation of South African society? Well my friend Didi does. According to her, the rapid growth of urbanization is a serious concern and finding ways to focus on “building towards healthy urban spaces that allow the highest possibility of livability” is a no brainer for her. Didi is determined and brave enough to participate actively in the growth of urbanisation and refuses to stay passive and surrender to its force like most of us are. Anyone who casts an eye on the latest UN findings, estimating that 80% of SA’s population will live in public spaces by 2050, has to admit that she has a point.
In Vancouver (voted one of the world’s most livable cities), Didi hopes “to offer her perspective as a practitioner and a user of public spaces and urban environments contributing to conversations around what works and engaging on areas that require improvement. Given South Africa’s Apartheid spatial design evident in cities across the country, she is determined to explore how to build cities and places that actively undo the legacy of segregation and exclusion and rather focus on inclusion and the celebration of diversity.” Didi has already a couple of ideas for projects up her sleeve that will aim to “rethink the way in which we use public spaces with a particular focus on encouraging social cohesion.”
I’d like to thank Didi for entrusting me with cooking a three-course meal fundraising dinner for her and her guests. And I also want to thank her for educating me and raising my awareness towards the necessity of participating actively in urbanization and that we have to pull together if we want to see SA’s public spaces transforming successfully.
I would also like to thank Didi and Kenan Petersen, her business partner at BLACR, for being such great team players. I have honestly enjoyed every minute of working with them and especially teaming up in the kitchen. I have a feeling this won’t be the last time, we call on people to join us for supper.
Special thanks to Stellar Organic Winery, for being the wine sponsor on the night and supplying us with an extra special range of organic fairtrade wines, called Dig This!, which was created in collaboration with Greenpop to benefit environmental sustainability and social development in farming communities. A percentage of every bottle sold goes directly back to Greenpop and The Stellar Foundation.
Many thanks also to ceramic artist John Bauer, who provided us with precious and unique pottery, in which I served my dishes. I am a huge fan of his work and was delighted to hear that we would want to partake in our dinner. Check out a Q&A with John Bauer from last February in the House and Leisure here.
I’d also like to send a big fat thank you to SA’s bacon hero Richard Bosman for donating ethically sourced pasture-reared Guanciale, Italian-style bacon, which Didi patiently rendered down until it was nice and crispy, to be sprinkled over my cauliflower and sweet potato soup with coriander.
Engaging actively in projects that would challenge the status quo of our public spaces in SA is nothing new to Didintle. In the past, she “has conceptualised and implemented a specific focus on using Place Making methodologies to create inviting places for all people from all walks of life. See an example here: