Poverty

South Africa Start Up Profile: 7 Steps- The Company That Brings Art To Cape Flats

The 7 Steps Hub Initiative is an innovative idea started by founder Clint White in his efforts to bring art and creativity to the disadvantaged of youth living on the Cape Flats.

I met up with Clint White to discuss the initiative, its goals and vision and what local and international organizations and individuals can do to get involved and make a difference.

RISE NEWS: 1. Can you give us an idea of your background and what lead to the idea of starting the 7 Steps Hub initiative?

Clint White: I’m a creative enthusiast, entrepreneur, brand strategist, creative director and business speaker. I’ve had the opportunity to be active in many creative roles, from brand manager, stylist, writer, creative director, art director, stage director, workshop host, panellist and even a voice over artist. I’m quite a lively and determined person, always wanting to source information and to do things differently. It’s how I’m inspired to be innovative in everything I do.

Living on the Cape Flats in Cape Town, I have a first-hand experience on what life is like here, the reality and prevalence of drug abuse, despair and violence suffered by our youth. This has forged a wedge between people, and the effects are disastrous. We’ve been left with a nation of uninspired youth, within disconnected communities, with little hope, so I thought that there must be an opportunity to change it.

RISE NEWS: 2. Why do you think that art specifically is a tool to change mind sets and instil a sense of self-confidence in the youth living on the Cape Flats?

Clint White: Coming from a creative background myself, I believe that art has the ability to heal people from an intrinsic perspective, which can quite literally change an individual’s thinking.

I think we should re-introduce art in our public education system, as it’s seen as an exclusive privilege at best.

There is little understanding of art in our communities and this creates a hindrance in pursuing a creative career or appreciation of the discipline.

We need to realise that the ability to think creatively and to come up with ideas, contributes to every industry the world over, from fashion, engineering, science, technology, music, media, architecture, design and even education; they all require creativity.

Founder Clint White (R) receiving an award from Marlon Parker, founder of RLabs.

You can pour your emotions, desires, fears, aspirations and viewpoints into whatever artwork you create, and learn new skills in the process. Art allows people to think differently in a way that we apply creative interpretations of how we experience the world around us and how we contribute to it.

RISE NEWS: 3. Has art been a force in your life and how has it changed or created a shift in mindset for you?

Clint White: Art is merely the mechanism or framework for innovation. I’m someone who has many different interests and creative pursuits in life, which I use to my advantage.

It [art] is about learning from past experiences and challenging myself to create new things, experiences and ideas; that’s where the innovation lies. I’m always researching new ideas, seeing what’s been done before and how we can make things better, to disrupt and to innovate. It’s what drives me.

RISE NEWS: 4. What do you intend to do with the art pieces that the kids create through the 7 Steps Hub initiative?

Clint White: Through our workshops, we intend on placing the art in the schools to encourage an appreciation and curiosity in art.

We expect that this will mitigate bullying as well, in the hopes that other youth will be interested in joining our programmes. The contributions the youth will make and the skills that they will learn will cultivate a sense of ownership which can be applied to other spheres of their lives too.

Through active support of funders and the public we hope to provide employment, entrepreneurship ideals and career development opportunities as well once the youth complete their schooling and perfect their skills through the art they create.

RISE NEWS: 5. Can you elaborate more on the community projects that 7 Steps Hub is starting up with students from Wynberg and Athlone?

Clint White: We wish to integrate the thinking at a community level into community development projects, not specifically only Wynberg and Athlone, but all communities.

We first want the learners to adopt a sense of ownership of their school, and then tackle their communities where they live.

We want the youth to visualise their communities as places of interest and inspiration. Through community clean ups, revamps, and art installations in these areas, we want to beautify them and bring the spirit of community back into where we live.

RISE NEWS: 6. Tell us more about the WaydesWelcome Journey and how that has influenced you moving forward with the 7 Steps Hub initiative?

Clint White: When I decided to walk around Cape Town collecting messages of support and congratulations for Olympic World Champion, Wayde Van Niekerk, I had no clue how the idea would take off. The campaign trended nationally within three days, and featured on every major media platform in the country, from radio interviews, TV appearances and newspaper articles. I met every person who signed the book.

I captured the journey on social media and garnered hundreds of thousands of impressions and people following the story each day.

It took me two months and 400 kilometres on foot, meeting hundreds of every day citizens and celebrities, from David Kramer, Evita Bezuidenhout, Mpho Tutu Van Furth and many more, to being invited by different companies, organisations, schools and people, it was incredible.

When he [Wayde Van Niekerk] arrived back in the country, I was fortunate enough to be invited by T-Systems to attend a gala dinner in Wayde’s honour as a special guest.

I had the opportunity to have dinner with Wayde, met his family and made a speech, before finally handing the book over.

It inspired me that we as a nation can come together for a greater good. I was incredibly inspired that through my idea, I could unite the entire nation.

All we need is a little inspiration, to do great things. As South Africans, we are kind hearted and genuine, it was refreshing to experience first-hand.

RISE NEWS: 7. What are your goals for the 2017 year and how can businesses and individuals get involved in such an initiative?

Clint White: Our goal for 2017 is to inspire the youth and build partnerships and relationships in realising its success.

We’re busy planning a 7 Steps Hub Creative Expo, showcasing the innovation and creativity from our programmes, as well as artistic contributions from individuals in Cape Town.

As we are a non-profit organisation, the challenges we face are funding, and the need for resources in our continued endeavours in changing lives.

We want youth, private business, parents, government and ordinary citizens to make a concerted effort in supporting our organisation in any way they can.

We have a list of resources and funding objectives available which anyone can contribute towards.

We need people to support our social media platforms and spread the word about our initiative.

We will be launching a crowdfunding campaign too, for people to assist 7 Steps Hub. It’s important that we realise the need to take the step and build our future, together.


Follow this creative initiative on these social media platforms for more information on how to get involved and support the 7 Steps Hub Initiative:

Email: 7stepshub@gmail.com

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/7StepsHub

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

“Dry Katrina”: In Memphis, Hundreds Of Families Are Being Forced Out Of The City’s Last Public Housing Units

By Courtney Anderson

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE- More than 700 families in the city of Memphis are at risk of losing their homes due to a mandatory relocation that some are equating to a manmade disaster.

This displacement comes from the mandatory relocation of residents from apartment buildings that were found to have housing code enforcement violations.

The residents were living in government subsidized housing units- the last such project in the city until the owner of the buildings lost HUD funding according to local paper The Commercial Appeal.

If they are made to relocate, many residents say that they will have nowhere to go.

But one organization in Memphis is working to provide assistance to residents in need.

For the better part of a year, The Mid South Peace and Justice Center (MSPJC), in Memphis, has been working on a renter’s rights collective to addresses the issues that led to the possible relocation of hundreds of Memphis citizens.

MSPJC director Bradley Watkins describes the collective as an effort to “engage in renter’s rights and training workshops on how tenants can form their own tenant associations,” in order to eventually create a network of organizations in Memphis—or “Memphis Tenant’s Union—” that work to protect the rights of tenants in the city.

In short, they are trying to stop what Watkins has dubbed as Memphis’s “Dry Katrina.” The nickname makes reference to the New Orleans housing crisis that followed Hurricane Katrina more than a decade ago.

Watkins said there is no other organizations in Memphis of its kind and that tenants have been taking a “great risk standing up for their rights,” and that the residents who speak out “need more support than is often available.”

The Mid South Peace and Justice center began the collective by working with residents of low-income apartments Warren Apartments and Serenity Towers.

Both apartment complexes are owned by Rev. Richard Hamlet of Global Ministries Foundation in Memphis and subsidized by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

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Watkins said he and members of the MSPJC saw many violations in both Warren Apartments, Serenity Towers and an apartment called Tulane, also owned by Hamlet.

Two weeks later, HUD notified Hamlet that Global Ministries Foundation had failed to correct the violations and that the tenants would have to be moved.

Recently, an inspection of Serenity Towers found massive bug infestations. Residents were told they would have to be moved, as well.

Watkins said that he felt the relocation was inevitable and that they were the result of “decades of systemic neglect on the part of the landlords.” To Watkins, it was only a matter of time.

“Honestly, we all have to ask: What did we expect to happen? Now our collective chickens have come home to roost,” Watkins said in a blog post.

Watkins said that these relocations have created a serious dilemma in the city of Memphis.

“The relocation of residents at Warren and Tulane, if not properly handled, could lead to a massive crisis in housing here in Memphis,” Watkins said. “This will affect thousands of families and they will need this community and this organization to stand with them in this.”

Jessica Johnson-Peterson was one of the residents who spoke up about the housing violations. She said some of her closest associates had come to her with complaints for years and that she felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to “be a voice for the community.”

Johnson-Peterson said that after a conversation with her husband and a resident named Cynthia Crawford, she typed a letter to Hamlet and then contacted Watkins at the MSPJC.

Johnson-Peterson said there are still many concerns not being addressed by HUD or by Global Ministries Foundation. She also said the new appointed receiver has expressed that he has no interest in working with tenants.

“It seems that being a criminal has more benefits than being a law-abiding citizen. The citizens that do their best with the resources, they are forced to live impoverished and the ones that compromise and give into the corruption more than thrive,” Johnson-Peterson said.

On March 11, 2016, Watkins posted an email he sent to Memphis city councilman Worth Morgan, members of the administration of Memphis mayor Jim Strickland and management at Memphis Code Enforcement onto the MSPJC Facebook page.

The post detailed a proposal that would create two initiatives between MSPJC and Memphis Code Enforcement. Both initiatives would have used Serenity Towers as a “pilot program.”

The initiatives listed included the creation of tenants associations that would be recognized by HUD and a program in which college interns who work with MSPJC would be paired with residents of Serenity Towers who have mobility issues.

In the meantime, the MSPJC is keeping track of HUD’s responses to the violations in Serenity Towers and Warren and Tulane Apartments.

The MSPJC Facebook page is consistently updated with local news articles about the apartment buildings and the tenants who called them home.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Guillaume Capron/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Miami’s Shame: Little Farm Trailer Park Sinks Into Slum As Chinese Land Owners Ignore Resident’s Plight

The closest that most of the world has come to the Little Farm was during the pilot episode of HBO’s original series Ballers.

In the show, retired NFL player Charles Greane works as a salesman at the very real Tropical Chevrolet car dealership (8800 Biscayne Blvd) before Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson swoops in to convince him to get back on the field.

But three blocks away at the Little Farm trailer park in El Portal (8500 Biscayne Blvd), the HBO cameras wouldn’t dream of going. No luxury to be found there. Just unspeakable despair.

There, one of Miami’s former great working class neighborhoods has been turned into a slum by years of bad landlords and poor governmental oversight.

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Photo Credit: Rich Robinson/ RISE NEWS.

The Little Farm is not talked about much- mostly because few people seem to know about it and even fewer care.

There’s lots of poor people in Miami and the area’s middle class is somewhat used to the idea that poverty is close to home.

Homeless men and women are a ubiquitous site at most I-95 off ramps in the area, meaning that it is near impossible to avoid the thought of abject poverty on your daily commute.

And yet, we ignore it and go home to our comfortable lives filled with Netflix and minor inconveniences.

But the Little Farm is different.

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Empty trailer at the Little Farm in El Portal. Photo Credit: Rich Robinson/ RISE NEWS.

I’ve lived six minutes away my entire life and didn’t know about it until a few months ago when one of our reporters wrote about it.

And even then, I didn’t fully comprehend what was happening there until I got off my ass and drove into the development last week.

“They Didn’t Tell Us Nothing”

Clairmise Blanc is fed up.

A youthful looking Haitian woman in her early 70’s, Blanc is the defacto point person for outsiders to the Little Farm. She also lives right next to a burnt out trailer that stinks to high heavens.

“My husband died on April 22, 2011 and left me here alone,” Blanc said to me, causing me to pause and offer my condolences. “I’d like to live here. But there’s no future in this. Everything is down, especially at the nighttime. Too many people are drug addicts here. I don’t like it no more. I’ve tried to find other places to go.”

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Clairmise Blanc. Photo Credit: Rich Robinson/ RISE NEWS.

Born in Haiti, she moved to the United States in 1981 and has lived at the Little Farm for eight years. She owns her own trailer, but it is poor shape, with holes in the windows and a sagging look to it. She also pays $450 a month for the trailer to sit on her small plot.

At one time, hundreds of trailers dotted the 17 acre property, but after a Chinese company bought the property last year, people started getting evicted. Then came the buy out offers– $2,000 to up and leave.

If you didn’t take the deal, it wouldn’t matter much because you had to leave under the terms of a deal the Village of El Portal signed with the Chinese company- Wealthy Delight.

From a Miami New Times report on Little Farm a few months ago:

“One day last February, everything changed. Little Farm was sold for $14.25 million, and Wealthy Delight, a company based in Coral Gables but whose owners are difficult to trace, took over. Soon it became clear the Village of El Portal had agreed to forgive more than $8 million in liens on the site if the new owners paid $575,000 and razed the mobile home park.”

Many people took the buy outs and soon their trailers were razed.

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A lot where a trailer once stood. Photo Credit: Rich Robinson/ RISE NEWS.

Legal action has delayed the complete eviction of the remaining residents at Little Farm, but only around 40 people remain according to Blanc. And they will all certainty will be pushed out in the coming months.

“They didn’t tell us nothing,” Blanc said. “They’ve tried to push us away. It’s not fair.”

The Fire

According to multiple witnesses, a fire broke out in a Little Farm trailer on the evening of February 19th.

“It was a mother, son and a daughter was living in there,” Blanc said.

While no one was hurt, the fire was intense and devastating.

The family living there had to move- one less eviction for Wealthy Delight to conduct.

Blanc’s trailer sits less than 15 feet away from the burnt out trailer. Nearly two months after the blaze, little has been cleaned up and the smell is starting to become unbearable for the remaining residents in the area.

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Photo Credit: Rich Robinson/ RISE NEWS.

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Photo Credit: Rich Robinson/ RISE NEWS.

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Photo Credit: Rich Robinson/ RISE NEWS.

“I’m tired of that smell, it just stinks,” Blanc said. “I want them to clean this thing. It is a mess. People can’t live like this.”

I start to cough after the breeze picks up and I notice how disgusting the burnt out remnants really are.

“That’s the office right there,” Blanc said while pointing towards the land lord management building across the road.

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The view of the burnt out trailer from Blanc’s trailer. Photo Credit: Rich Robinson/ RISE NEWS.

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The view of the burnt out trailer (behind the trees) from the porch of the land lord management building. Photo Credit: Rich Robinson/ RISE NEWS.

The burnt out unit is directly in front of the office, which means that the land lord would have to see it everyday as they arrive for work.

“They don’t care,” Blanc said of Wealthy Delight. “You think if they cared, they would have cleaned it a long time ago. But it’s been two months now. If they cared, they would have cleaned it because people are living here.

I ask her if she thinks the trailer hasn’t been cleaned up as a way to get her to move.

She demurs and says that in order for her to leave they are going to have to fork out more money.

El Portal Village Manager Jason Walker told RISE NEWS that he had not been aware of the fire but that it was the landlord’s responsibility to clean it up.

A representative for Wealthy Delight refused to answer questions on the phone and asked for questions via email, which they have also not answered.

Have a tip? Email us at editor@risenews.net. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us

All Photo Credits: Rich Robinson/RISE NEWS.

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