GRID TO GO and GUGS IN THE PARK

How To Get Off The Grid – the title of the one day renewable energy work shop had a contradictory ring. For years people in distant dusty communities all over the country have been desperate to get on it – to get light in their lives. But the tide has turned and the penny’s dropped that fossil fuel is not forever. Clearly, the planet’s slow-burn is speeding up.

So there we were on a boiling hot day at the tin arched Co-Existence Centre in Baskloof Private Nature Reserve, dense with fynbos, in Scarborough, to learn about alternatives at the once a month Saturday workshop. The sun beat down a reminder, ‘Ahem, I’m here to help you know’ and a sporadic breeze spun experimental wind turbines on a koppie overlooking the coastal hills. Fabulous setting.

Stephen Jacobs gave  the down-to-earth broad-brushstroke toxic truth – in a nice way – then sizzling with stats and facts, Kobus Carstens presented the power options. The day was vibrant with interaction, knowledge sharing and a fresh, colourful lunch prepapred in the solar system kitchen – the Co-Existence Centre is itself Off The Grid. We went home em-powered with notes, know-how and much fuel for thought. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a brighter future.

 Under the same hot sun the next day in the inner city De Waal Park, together with a tapestry of people, picnics, dogs and kids, O and I settle on the grass in the shade of a sample selection of old trees clustered around the Edwardian Bandstand. A man in a yellow T-shirt from Friends of De Waal Park stood on the stage and talked about the park’s past and present, its Victorian fountain in want of repair, the concert series and a big welcome for – The Gugulethu Tenors! Crisp in white shirts and resonant crystal voices, the four of them just wow’d the crowd. Fabulous sound. After a few introductory classics, Mpendulo Yawa introduced the group with the story of its past and present followed by their own composition O Afrika! which stopped even the squirrels in their tracks. It features on their new album Nyamezela (Persevere) which was for sale under the oaks. Lovely.

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