Changemaker Festival catalyses local partnerships in Genadendal/Greyton Valley

Author: Kate Ribet

Six towns join together for the area’s first Changemaker Festival to take place in Voorstekraal on Saturday 26 November.

Six towns in the beautiful valley of Genadendal and Greyton in the Theewaterskloof Municipality will join together for the area’s first Changemakers Festival taking place on Saturday 26 November. Over 35 organisations and community groups are expected to take part in the one-day celebration of community that will centre around the launch of the Voorstekraal Skills Development Centre and the area’s first ‘Talent Exchange,’ which uses an alternative currency to help stimulate the local economy. 

More info on the Changemakers Festival: 

The Festival will feature a host of activities taking place on the Centre grounds, including a tree planting ceremony, learning workshops, performances, a fire-drill from the local Fire Department, exhibitions plus a live music programme and local food and drink on sale. Community elders from the area will be honoured with a small photo exhibition as part of the launch. RSG will broadcast live from the event, which is supported by the Greyton Rotary, the SA Climate Change Champs and the Western Cape Economic Development Partnership (EDP).

The Festival’s main organisers are the Valley of Six Changemakers Network and the Norma Canjanie Agricoop and Voorstekraal Women’s Network, who are launching the Centre. The Changemakers Network represents around 30 organisations from across the Valley, several of whom had came together during the Covid-19 pandemic to organise feeding schemes and set up local gardens. The Network successfully applied for a micro-grant from the Connections Carnival, a cross-country changemaking festival run by the Towns Action Network (TAN), and the idea for the Festival was born. 

Members of the Genadendal/Greyton community during a recent Helpmekaar at the Voorstekraal Skills Development Centre in August 2022. Source: Valley of Six Changemakers Network

The Changemakers Festival will be the final event of the Connections Carnival, which has seen a series of innovative public events and connections taking place across eight towns across South Africa since September. TAN, which is convened by the EDP, aims to catalyse change in small towns across South Africa.

Doug Reeler, one of the Network organisers says: “The idea behind the Connections Carnival really struck a chord, and provided us, as changemakers who had been coordinating very well during the pandemic, with an opportunity to collaborate again.”

Ultimately, the Festival aims to celebrate partnerships and connect communities in the Valley around local issues, thus building community resilience, promoting development and enhancing local tourism opportunities. The event builds on current community activities include regular Helpmekaars and renovations to the Voorstekraal Centre, which will be used to host community meetings and a children’s library.  

Reeler says: “Every one of us really wants to make a difference in our communities. We don’t know how this first Festival will go, but just working together on this goal has already been hugely beneficial for community cohesion and building forward together. It confirms that when you pull people together around a common purpose, you generate synergy and amazing things can happen.” 

About the Towns Action Network: The Connections Carnival is a project of the Towns Action Network (TAN), launched in March 2022 which aims to catalyse change in small towns across South Africa. The TAN promotes accountability of local government to residents, businesses and local organisations to limit corruption and advance small town regeneration efforts, and is hosted by eight Support Partners: In Transformation InitiativeRanyakaKagiso TrustRestaurare/Citeplan, Accountability LabKaroo Development FoundationDemocracy Works Foundation, and the EDP.