Street Life (Photovoice)
Ivory Park, Gauteng
Completed


Project lead: Dr Andrew Charman
Funded by Participate (Institute of Development Studies)
In partnership with UrbanWorks


The project studies the ‘street’ as an important market space in the informal economy. The project builds upon the outcomes of the FIME micro-enterprise study undertaken in Ivory Park in June 2012. SLF has again partnered with UrbanWorks to explore the architecture and spatiality of the street, examining the street in terms of its infrastructural dimensions, the typologies of structures through which people conduct business, the dynamics of customer activities and general characteristics of street life. A sub-component of this project has entailed the coaching of street photographers in photovoice and providing them with opportunities to exhibit photographs of street life that address the opportunities and challenges of the street environment. The project outcome can be viewed through the Photovoice: Street Life in Ivory Park Facebook page.

The aim of the Street Life in Ivory Park project is to explore the space of the street as a site for informal business and social interaction. The project challenges the dominant conceptualisation of the township street as a simple artery for (motor vehicle) movement and grid to aid in township management. The project seek to re-conceptualise the street in terms of four dimensions: i) as a place for conducting business; ii) as a place of social interaction; iii) as a point of contestation between users and between some users and residents; and iv) as an aspect of spatial urban design and settlement planning.

At the core of this initiative, we seek to illustrate and describe the space of the street as a site of emergence, where people set up small businesses and enter the economy – albeit informally, and where people interact socially in both structured and unstructured ways. The vision for the project is to present street life from the perspective of the township residents whose lives are inter-twined in a spatial context through trade, business services, worship, sport games, gambling, entertainment, leisure, in the daily commute of pedestrians and in conflict over use or enforcement of non-use.

From a policy perspective, the street has become a site of conflict between the street users (especially the traders) and law enforcement agencies. This tension has impacted on the emergence of the street in ways that could further enhance opportunities for small business growth and at the same time foster user-friendly space for street life in ways that are fair to residents and the broader community. The emergent place of the street amidst these tensions, limitations and potentials for creative human settlements is explored in this project.

A sub-component of the Street Life in Ivory Park project provides a means by which marginalised individuals may share their ‘voice’ through active engagement in participatory photography. Using the method of photovoice, this project (Street photographers: an actor perspective on the informal economy of the street) aims to empower eight existing street photographers in the community of Ivory Park to contribute via photographs towards policy reform to strengthen the livelihoods rights of informal economy actors that rely on the street as their place of business. The project thus provides a perspective of street life through the lens of persons whose place of work is the street. The project forms part of SLF’s pro-poor informal business advocacy interventions and seeks to contribute towards the unfolding global debates on the post-Millennium Development Goals agenda.