Sound Social Practice in South Africa

DayOne is a podcast by/for Cape Town to help its residents better understand and guide the ways their city’s water flows, founded in the peak of a climate-change related drought and economically and politically exacerbated water crisis. This podcast is also an experimental, participatory form of contextual profiling for Sarah Van Borek’s PhD in Environmental Education at Rhodes University’s Environmental Learning Research Centre (ELRC) in South Africa. Sarah is comparing case studies in Canada and South Africa to explore how a site-specific, media arts-based environmental education curriculum addressing the water-climate change nexus can cultivate student attitudes, perceptions and agency towards reconciliation. Sarah co-founded the podcast with her ELRC colleague, Anna James. In early 2018, international news headlines suggested that, “Cape Town may be the world’s first major city to run out of water.” For those interested in activating changes so that this wouldn’t happen, and so that the energy of the crisis could be harnessed with a spirit of participatory democracy to inspire long-term sustainability across a multilingual city with vast inequalities, there needed to be a way to begin to unpack the layers of factors contributing to the situation, to listen to different perspectives and to bring the various and polarized stakeholders into conversation. For a PhD scholar seeking a decolonized methodology through which to understand the multi-faceted Cape Town water context in which her research is to be based, she needed an approach that would allow for engaging research participants as co-researchers and activists in the dynamic and evolving situation. Hence this podcast was born. With Day Zero being the popularized term for the projected date when the City of Cape Town would shut off tapped water to suburbs and force residents to instead collect daily rations of water from collection points around the city, DayOne was chosen as the name of this podcast to represent a voice of hope, possibility and collective innovation. The aims with the podcast are: to cultivate a different way of thinking about and working with water in the city, to provide a platform for sharing urgent, critical and responsive information from a wide range of perspectives, to respond to water-related questions from people from all walks of life in Cape Town, to build a network of local leaders and innovators, to inspire connections with water sources in the city through soundscapes, and to nourish imaginations with water-inspired creative contributions from artists across a variety of disciplines.

Research Practice Action

2018 Special Focus - How Art Makes Things Happen: Situating Social Practice in Research, Practice, and Action

Alternative Presentation Proposal

  • Sarah Van Borek
    • Sessional Faculty, Faculty of Culture and Community, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Canada -, Canada
    • Sarah Van Borek is a Canadian-born, Cape Town-based fillmmaker, educator and researcher. Sarah is dedicated to collaborative media arts initiatives linking arts, science, museums, civil society and government for sustainable development. Sarah has also worked on projects in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritania and Mali. She has been a faculty member of the Emily Carr University of Art Design (ECUAD) in Vancouver, Canada since 2012 designing and implementing courses in partnership with the science-based environmental ngo, the David Suzuki Foundation. She coordinated a collaborative course between ECUAD and the University of Johannesburg's Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture in 2017. Sarah is interested in exploring the intersections of art, science and traditional ecological knowledge to address the water-climate change nexus and to explore the potential for museum/community partnership-based, media arts-based environmental education to contribute to reconciliation in Canada and South Africa.