Woodstock, a bustling Cape Town suburb known for its narrow streets, urban art and tucked-away treasures, is the home of GOODWoodstock, a new community-focused, mixed-use space. Its emphasis is on sharing economies and bringing together people in a multi-layered space that enables businesses, society and the environment to sustainably co-exist. This vision is delivered through GOODFood (a food and beverage hall), GOODWork (co-working space), GOODStore (retail), GOODLiving (co-living), GOODBalance (health and wellness) and GOODPeople (an NPO).
GOODWoodstock is looking to have us shift to thinking about Total Societal Impact. TSI is a core value of GOODWoodstock. It emphasises a responsibility towards the immediate community and environment. An example of this is how the bar is setup and stocked to develop positive working relationships with local breweries and distilleries which allows them to order their alcohol in bulk, but also in reusable containers. This cuts down on 6.7 glass bottles per every 5 litres of alcohol. They also use glass, tapped jars for storage, allowing them to create bespoke drinks and cocktails while generating only a fraction of the normal waste.
The overhead costs involved with setting up a business and a trading space are often too large for a small business to get off the ground. GOODWoodstock recognises these costs and realises that working and even thinking individually is not sustainable. It aims to cultivate a space in which overheads are reduced (WiFi, cleaning and security staff and other infrastructure) so that new businesses can become self-sufficient and self-sustaining.
The physical spaces are designed with sustainability in mind, with artworks made of recycled waste plastic commissioned from local artists and township work-spaces, and tables made mostly from recycled and reclaimed wood commissioned from local craftsmen.
“It’s humbling work,” says general manager Angelique Smith of the entire process. They’ve faced their share of hurdles and setbacks. Not realising the slow process of reclaiming wood, GOODWoodstock opened with fewer tables than intended because they had not all been delivered. Another issue has been figuring out how to interact with their surrounding communities, seeking to “improve and involve”, as brand manager Luke van de Merwe puts it, rather than exclude and patronise members of their community. They’ve hired most of their staff from the immediate surrounding communities. They also try to provide their staff with opportunities to grow and learn within the company, while popularising sustainability. Staff are trained to separate waste and to recycle.
GOODWoodstock is looking at starting community gardens to produce commercially-viable produce.
Angelique and Luke make one thing very clear: They are still learning as they go, and trying to figure out how to connect with a diversity of people in the community. It’s clear they’ve got a journey ahead of them still, but the interested shoppers and curious lunchtime customers ebbing and flowing across the newly opened food space, along with the hunched silhouettes of people at work over laptops behind the glass of their office sharing space, show they’re onto something good.
- You’ll find the GOOD in all its forms at 242 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock, Cape Town. Join the launch party this Thursday, 11 July. Party starts at 5pm. GOODFood members as well as the GOODBar will be running launch party specials and the GOODStore will host various meet the maker sessions where you can meet the makers behind some of the products on the the GOODStore shelves.
- Images: Bekah Vogel