Name Your Hood Q&A
As mentioned in our July Renovations issue in our News and Views section (page 36), Cape Town is about to undergo a historic rebranding under the Name Your Hood initiative. MD Bruce Good is the brains behind the outfit. HL caught up with him to hear more about the motivation for the project and how Bruce thinks it will transform the Mother City for the better. Where did the idea for Name Your Hood come from? The concept came to me when I was living in New York in 2008. I love the way that the city works so well, and is reliant on clearly-defined and well branded neighbourhoods. This makes NYC easy to navigate while locals also take immense pride in where they live, work and play. To my mind, Cape Town was missing a huge opportunity. I’ve always been bemused by the fact that we refer to the homogenous ‘City Bowl’ or ‘town’. The reality is that the ‘town’ is composed of a range of individual neighbourhoods with distinctive identities. Yet these neighbourhoods are neither named nor defined. Armed with the problem and a solution, I then set out to devise a business model which would allow the public to have a say in naming the newly defined neighbourhoods. Enter Name Your Hood. What does Name Your Hood hope to achieve? We hope that the process delivers an even better Cape Town for locals and tourists alike. We hope that through Name Your Hood the public will become more engaged with the city and will take a keener interest in its extraordinary history. Equally, we trust that the public will be able to make their mark on a city by naming its neighbourhoods. It is a real chance for us all to think about what makes a particular neighbourhood and the city so special. Name Your Hood enables the capture and labelling of the distinctive ethos in each neighbourhood. We anticipate this will lead to a clustering effect, with people, projects and ideas to whom that ethos appeals now being even more drawn to that neighbourhood. This snowballing effect will, in turn, enhance that identity. Everyone who lives, works or plays in that neighbourhood stands to benefit from that self-perpetuating process. We aren’t changing any names, nor are we taking any away – we’re simply enabling the creation of a branded overlay for the city. At its simplest, this will result in a more legible city. What are the different stages of the project? The process of naming is really simple. Two neighbourhoods will be named per month, starting on 4 July. People are invited to submit names for either (or both) neighbourhood for a 20-day period. The submission stage then closes and the panel reduces all names submitted to a short-list of between 5 and 10 names. The public will then be invited to vote on the shortlist and the name which attracts the most votes will be selected. Names can be submitted via our website here or through voting pamphlets which will be distributed throughout the city, and notably in Pam Golding branches. Votes can either be entered on the website or by SMS. That process then continues for subsequent hoods. All neighbourhoods on the map will be named by 10 December 2011. Why do you feel it is so important for the public to feel a sense of ownership over the naming process? A key aspect of the whole campaign is that no neighbourhoods are being renamed. No names will change or be removed. Rather, Name Your Hood creates names for neighbourhoods where no names exist, and no boundaries are set. When we talk of ownership of names, it is our intention to allow names to be created by the public, for the public. It is a bottom-up approach, rather than allowing an organisation or group to unilaterally decide a neighbourhood name. It is our opinion that people appreciate the chance to have a say in key decisions, and whilst this is not an ‘official’ process, the public is invited to own the process. You just have to witness the popularity of shows like Idols, Big Brother and Survivor to be made aware of the extent to which the public like to have a say. Even if an individual has a negligible influence, it is being part of the process and having a say which is critical. How will Name Your Hood benefit local business? In the short term, local businesses in each neighbourhood will benefit from large-scale exposure during the naming stages. The public will be invited to explore each neighbourhood by studying the map and its boundaries, perusing the history of the neighbourhood, and by talking a virtual stroll through its streets using the Google streetview function on our site . In doing so, visitors to the site will, for the first time in many instances, see which shops operate in each area. Once the neighbourhoods are named and established, it will be easier for local business to mobilise activities around their hoods. This is likely to ensure far more feet to the areas, and shoppers to local business. Detailed neighbourhood websites will also be published, which again, is another first. These will provide accurate, relevant content on the businesses located in certain areas. How have you enhanced the interactive experience on your website? There are a number of features which will ensure a trip to the Name Your Hood website is a stimulating and dynamic one. For a start, you’ll be able to take a look at suggestions for names as each user submits one. Equally, through the technology on the site, you’ll be able to study the exact boundaries of each neighbourhood, learn about the history, the contemporary surrounds of, and even the look and feel of each area. Our team of photographers have captured the hoods in all their moods which will make your experience of each hood an in-depth and educational one. Significantly, there is a section devoted to the history of the area, a sample of businesses in the hood and naturally user-friendly maps. Will the final names be made official by the City of Cape Town? Name Your Hood is not an official City of Cape Town initiative. It is an initiative launched by passionate Capetonians who long to import some great ideas from iconic global cities. The process has been recognised and endorsed by the City, though it remains a private project. We have the backing of key city stakeholders, including Cape Town Partnership, Wesgro, Creative Cape Town, Cape Town Tourism and a number of media organisations and private business. Who are the sponsors for this project? We are very fortunate to have the backing of some exceptional sponsors. Our title sponsors are Pam Golding Properties and Mr Delivery, with other sponsors including Vida e Café and Groupon. Name Your Hood will change the local property landscape – Pam Golding were the first real estate group to recognise this, and will benefit by being the first to market the refined neighbourhoods, thereby benefiting their clients enormously. Equally, Mr Delivery is an organisation which is centred on convenient delivery. A more user-friendly city will greatly enhance their service and ability to meet the needs of clients. Groupon is able to deliver deals to very localised communities and this is just another great partnership with a brand that has the ability to offer deals to particular hoods, and residents thereof. Vida e Café is such a special South African brand – it relates very well to the neighbourhood concept, has a very local feel and attracts regulars and residents to their immensely popular outlets. So all in all there are massive synergies with each of these great brands. We were very particular about who we approached and are enjoying a very good working relationship with all of them. Are there plans to eventually implement Name Your Hood on a nationwide scale? We plan to, alongside our loyal sponsors, take the concept to Joburg at the end of the year, and to Durban thereafter. Our research suggests that there is a great opportunity for creating clearly defined hoods in Joburg. They’ve already created the fun name ‘Jozi’, but we think distinct neighbourhood names are long overdue. In Durban, Name Your Hood will enable the naming of hoods in a participative manner, radically different to the unilateral way in which their roads appear to have been renamed. We’ve all got different associations with the parts of the city we frequent – whether you’re a regular bar hopper in Long Street or a coffee connoisseur at Green Point’s Giovanni’s. Share your ideas for distinct new neighbourhood names by visiting the website and have your say in the way we label our home towns. HL will also be reporting back on the progress made and the emerging final names. Visit the Name Your Hood Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @nameyourhood for regular updates and become a part of this pioneering initiative.