“Our hope is that we will connect with youth across the world in artistic collaboration on a common global topic. It is important as, with our social challenges, climate change is not top of the agenda for transformation, but this project is already igniting a passion for knowledge and action.”
ARROWSA (Art as a Resource for Reconciliation Over the World South Africa) is a registered voluntary non-profit organisation based in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. ARROWSA focuses on sustainable arts, culture and heritage projects, performances and events that engage youth in face-to-face and online engagement, taking place locally, nationally and internationally. The projects make use of arts, culture and heritage for personal and social change. ARROWSA ensures sustainable growth and quality in the programmes and projects by engaging in participatory, action-based research conducted within the organisation and in partnership with tertiary institutions.
Food provision, recycling and sustainability
One of the main project focuses for ARROWSA was the design and cultivation of a Vegetable and Cultural Garden on the site of Bechet High School in Durban. Quickly realising that the young people wouldn’t be able to congregate in large groups to create a new theatre production at the start of the project – due to spiking levels of Coronavirus in South Africa – the group prioritised what felt important to them both culturally and environmentally, to drive their Phone Call to the World work. The focal points of the project then became food provision, recycling and sustainability.
The pollution of the local landscape in Durban is a problem that has escalated over the years, so by cleaning the proposed site on the high school’s ground in preparation for the garden, and by reusing tyres and old piping as makeshift planter boxes, the project quickly became a sustainable one. During this process the young people learned about creation with intention: how to put more consideration into what you make or purchase that may have detrimental effects on the environment in years to come.
Each of the vegetables and herbs planted in the garden hold numerous medicinal and wellness properties. For example, the South African basil bush is rich in antioxidants and minerals, whilst also being anti-inflammatory.
Iboza (Tetradenia riparia) leaves are commonly used to treat respiratory and stomach problems as well as malaria. Marigold flowers have anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. And Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
is another nourishing plant – its leaves helping the body to fight infections such as sinusitis and bronchitis. By cultivating this garden, the benefits to the community and to the young people involved became a catalyst
of hope for the future.
Read more about the medicinal and wellness properties of the indigenous plants and herbs included in the garden by visiting the Resources Library.
South Roots International
South Roots International (SRI) is a non-profit organisation working in previously marginalised communities of the Western Cape in South Africa. They address social injustices of the past and use cultural performing arts for social transformation and reconciliation.
Engaging with cultural heritage
A strong sense of hope emerged from the young people working with South Roots International. From the beginning, the young people were aware of escalating waste production and pollution that devastates their local landscape and environment. They found there was no real political intent or agenda to make lasting sustainable change for the future and this drove the activities they engaged themselves in throughout the duration of the project.
Through lake cleaning, participatory workshops on Indigenous knowledge systems and principles of land stewardship, and the act of tree planting while on their production tour, the young people from SRI became increasingly conscious of caring for their environment, shifting their relationship with animals and with nature to value the traditional and cultural heritage of their ancestry.
One of the prominent artistic ventures for members of South Roots International during the project was the design, rehearsal, performance and touring of their Call to the World theatre production. Overall, the production questions the possibility of a changed world, in respect of land ownership, sustainable living and their consequential affects on climate change. While on the Call to the World production tour, the young people travelled through five of South Africa’s provinces, stopping to plant Spekboom – an indigenous plant of the Eastern Cape – at points along the journey. On reaching Durban, they met with members of ARROWSA and collaborated in various activities and workshops, learning about ecological living, Indigenous knowledge systems and declining wildlife populations in areas of South Africa. In the 5000km they travelled for the tour, the young people of SRI realised how unaware some communities were about climate change and its impact not just locally but throughout the world.