I used to be an optimist. Fueled by the belief that so many people — not dissimilar to myself — were out there working in some way towards a better future, and that there was no way that our collective efforts wouldn’t find each other, and have an impact.

Over the years I became jaded. Overwhelmed with the inertia of systems that fail to change; bashed back by crises that in big sweeps take us back years as power systems expand their boundaries or undo incremental wins; and disillusioned by systems that incentivise box ticking and division.

Image for post
Image for post

2020 started for me by being invited to participate in a panel discussion on the Talking Transformation podcast. I was to play the role of “The Dreamer”. I panicked a bit — it’s been hard for me to give optimistic predictions in my sector. I see a rise in gangsterism, climate change, inequality, heartless politics and fractured institutions. And now we’ve been set back by Covid. …


A lot of people are writing or tweeting or talking about how Covid19 might change the world.

Common ideas include:

  • a growth in work-from-home now that companies and workers see that technology and work ethic allows this in many sectors (similar for learn-from-home)
  • a romantic rebalancing of man and nature, with governments taking scientists including climate scientists more seriously, and people temporarily seeing the benefits of low-carbon living
  • an increase in hygiene practices and physical distancing in public and work spaces
Image for post
Image for post

On many aspects of how Covid19 might change the world, or just your town or work places, there is still too much uncertainty and very little pattern from which to already deduce or project trends. This can be seen in the range of different positive and negative trajectories predicted by topical experts in the politico article below. …


It feels like the economy is grinding to a halt and it’s affecting hourly and service workers the most. While serious macro economic stimulus packages will be needed to shock it back into action (and present their own opportunities for stimulating new — green/inclusive — economies), there are some things we* can be doing to minimise the direct economic impact of covid19 in our own communities.

*Target audience is the middle and upper classes with absorptive capacity during a crisis

Here are some ideas. What are yours?

  1. Keep doing your job to the best of your ability , where technology and health allows. This is the aspect of the economy that is directly in your control- keep it running if you can! If you can, work from home. Even teachers and chefs are doing it! Who knows — maybe you’ll create new markets or efficiencies that will be long lasting. …


PSA: From now on “iyoh haaa haaa, yoh siwelele” replaces “ole ole” guys.

Image for post
Image for post

Not long ago the first black players on the Springboks were ostracized by mainly white fans, and some players refused to even throw them the ball.

Today, we were lead by Siyamthanda Kolisi, a black man who the whole nation sees as a legitimate sportsman and leader.


In the late 00s there was a project with many specialists working together to investigate the feasibility of sinking the rail lines from Salt River to the CBD in order to release land for development.

Image for post
Image for post
Dreaming, planning, scheming — new precincts, new mobilities

People described it as bold (when actually it was just long-term). Some people didn’t like how it would change Woodstock (look how not adding land to that market has turned out).

Very few people really know why it didn’t go beyond feasibility. There are a LOT of factors and the story isn’t entirely mine to tell. But here’s a really crude summary of factors:

Institutional capacity and trust

The study was mandated under a broader PRASA agenda to look at long-term land based financing…


“People in townships are not as affected by load-shedding. They’re more used to it, and adapt more easily” — an actual statement

Let’s break this down.

The majority of townships and many informal settlements are at least partially electrified. In fact, according to the City of Cape Town, 97.3% of households have access to electricity .

So, when we claim that “people in townships” are “used to not having energy”, we are either normalizing poor service delivery, or only really counting un-serviced informal settlements in our definition of townships, which is either ignorant or misleading.

“They adapt more easily”.

Adaptation is related to resilience. It is our ability to recover quickly, or to do as well with less/under changed circumstances. It can relate to our ability to tolerate stress, to pool resources within a community (of place/sector/faith etc) or to find new sources of security/well-being. It can be connected to our range of choices and flexibility to move within those. It can also be related to redundant resources at our disposal, or even our ability to demand change. Many household and business level adaptations to load-shedding cost money, so really, middle and upper income suburbs adapt more easily. Similarly, some are related to demands — requesting exclusions from load-shedding, for example. Others are related to our personal abilities to adapt how we plan our days, use our time, and respond to stress. …


Like many other nations, South Africa is slowly entering the world of legalized cannabis. Arguments for this include moral, legal and economic ones.

Amongst the economic arguments are fiscal ones (the opportunity to grow and tax an existing industry), economic growth ones (export markets are opening up along with each country legalizing medical and/or recreational cannabis products) and economic inclusion ones (most notably, a “save the Eastern Cape” mantra). The latter has a silver-bullet risk.

The assumption is that much of the production occurs in the Eastern Cape and that legislation automatically leads to direct inclusion of these farmers in formalized and legal supply chains. …


This is a long-read. It is peppered with embedded additional research, resources and tools. It is structured as follows:

  1. Principles for a new economy (inclusion, fairness, resilience, sustainability)
  2. Stabilise the fundamentals (key assets and infrastructure)
  3. Focus on expanding the product jungle (diversify with more complex know-how)
  4. Address binding constraints to inclusive growth (financial, geographic and social)
  5. Acknowledge spatial differences (different plans for different starter conditions)
  6. It takes the whole of society (the economy is an ecosystem)

As with all my writing, its just one point of view and not necessarily my final position.

Principles for a new economy

The last City of Cape Town Economic Growth Strategy was written in 2013. Since this strategy was adopted, the institution has been affected by an election, a restructuring, a change in Mayor, and another restructuring. …


The City if Cape Town has recently released its 2018 property valuation roll. This lists the prices that they use to calculate your monthly rates — a tax charged against the value of your property, in addition to any service connection fees and consumption charges. This money goes into the City budget and is used, in addition to grants from National Government, to find various infrastructure and services.

It is an important feature of local government finance, and it is important for ensuring the City has enough revenue to maintain infrastructure and to develop and improve the city and to provide better services to the poor. …


The newly formed GOOD party is the first to explicitly say they are campaigning the 2019 elections on being a party that will tackle racism in South Africa. Some people have questioned the vagueness of this, and asked whether a “not in my name” campaign is really enough.

A true leader working on racism will have a voice on this issue that encompasses a public value proposition (why we need to change) and a mobilising theory of change (how we will collectively get there).

As my handful of regular readers will know, I believe that social change is a daily practice, and it requires inputs from all of society. …

About

Urbanjodi

Archive of thoughts. Imperfect, incomplete and not assumed to be my final position. My actions speak louder than my words. Learn more: https://jodi.city

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store