Harties.net has a “feel good” mission. That is – we want to help in making people proud to be called Hartbeespoorters. If you do a google search on Hartbeespoort there are many negative references towards our water quality and if you scan social and traditional media the negative stories and issues usually come to the fore. That is OK – we need to take notice and be informed of everything around us. But this is exactly why Harties.net comes with a fresh approach: Not as substitute for any of our existing media outlets, but as very necessary supplement.
How do we aim to enhance and enrich the existing media offer available to our citizens? We want to be open. We want to be a normalizing force that help in healing our past common ailments, growing our common vision and adding to an open and engaging approach where we work through the issues and find real solutions.
Harties has a very diverse society – actually very unique in South Africa. We truly have something of everything – a true kaleidoscope of views, cultures and income levels. We are only human – we like to gossip and to find identity in some or other community faction. We can fight with each other about non-issues, and we sometimes love to boost our own self-righteous ego’s by finding fault with others. But I have a trust in the inherent goodness of our citizens and that sense will prevail, while we try to figure things out. We can stand together when it really matters.
Two recent events made me think about how we can work things out. The first is the prayer event organised by the Hartbeespoort Christian Forum on 15 May. The event was presented in three languages and created an opportunity for a positive cross-culture experience within a Christian milieu. We need to allow each other those known spaces where we feel comfortabe in. But we also need to create opportunities to meet each other in this way. The only way to grow is to sometimes venture a bit outside of your comfort zone into unknown spaces. This was a feel-good experience on which we can build in future.
The other event was the Metsi a Me Phase 2 presentation on 18 April where various members of the community came together to be informed about how our dam remediation project progresses. Very striking responses came to the fore when two issues came up. The first was the issue of squatters on the foreshores and the second was noise pollution on the dam. With mentioning of the former, attendees felt that there may be a hidden agenda in the mentioning of the problem. Similarly, when people complained about noise, some attendees wanted to know what exactly the complaint was about and wondered whether there is not a typifying element hidden in the complaint. Here I saw that there remains a level of distrust within our community. However – these issues were stated and talked about. And this is the key – we need to understand each other’s concerns and bring it in the open. To an extent this was successfully done in the meeting, since the people started to communicate with each other and sort the issues out.
This is how we need to change our approach in not only talking to each other, but rather listening to each other.
In Harties.net we want to open the issues and get a positive debate started. I personally have some experience in how people in leadership positions – who should know better – can dodge talks in our town. People are afraid of seeing their real selves when being confronted with the truth.
Where our views on morality and values differ, we will strive to find the common morality and values on which we can build.
We need to open up the discussion – too much remain under blankets in our town. We need to work through past divisions between churches, community organisations and cultures. Old wounds need to be allowed to heal. We can only achieve this in opening the doors, understanding each other’s concerns and sorting out the issues – not by keeping it hidden away.
Our people are inherently good and we have a bright future in Harties!