To a pass-byer, Pretoria may appear to be a sleepy little town filled with Blue Bull supporters, Friday evening sokkie gatherings and Sunday afternoon family braais. Comfortable, quiet and rather stagnant compared to the bright lights and hustle of Jozi just a couple of kilometers away.

Oh, but how wrong that perception would be! 
Numerous exciting developments and community initiatives are a-foot in the City of Tshwane and at the heart of a large number of them is a dynamic powerhouse of a woman – Mareli Wassenaar. Executive Director of the Capital Collective, a non-profit company “focused on citizen-driven rejuvenation initiatives in Pretoria CBD,” the Tshwane Hub was lucky to host Mareli for a Meet the Leader session at Beerhouse* in Centurion, where we learnt more about the amazing work being done to revive and ignite Pretoria’s inner city center.

After spending some time abroad and relishing a few months in her beloved France, Mareli returned to South Africa with a renewed sense of appreciation for Pretoria and the feeling it gave her of truly being at home. Drawing on skills honed through her work in the fields of public relations, business communication and organizational development, Mareli decided to channel this passion for the city into driving its growth and giving back to her local community. Her aim is to turn Pretoria into a prime example of an inclusive and efficient African metropolitan city. So, the Capital Collective was born!

Recognizing that there are many talented and driven people running their own initiatives in Pretoria, the Capital Collective’s purpose is to form a central platform where the locals can come together, share ideas, find support for their work and make important connections to collaborate across projects. It is meant to provide people with the resources and support they need to bring their ideas to life and generate a positive impact in the community that will improve the lives of those living in Central Pretoria. The Capital Collective emphasizes the need for locals to take ownership for the well-being of their own cities and be empowered to create the change they want to see occur.

To this end, the Capital Collective hosts or supports a vast array of projects. These include Open-Mic nights, where government representatives, property owners, artists, entrepreneurs and local community members gather to share ideas, the amazing monthly Market@TheSheds, educational and informative city walking tours, the Not-on-my-Block initiative and the development of a walking and cycling route through Walkerspruit, to name but a few.

The Tshwane Hub was excited to hear about the amazing work taking place at the local community level in Pretoria, and is inspired by the multitude of locals taking responsibility for the improvement of their local neighbourhoods. Over the coming months, we will be engaging further with Mareli and the Capital Collective to identify ways in which we can collaborate and assist. In the meantime, we encourage you to check out their website, join their Facebook group & page and contact them if you have any awesome ideas of your own you’d like to share! In addition, be sure to check out the 012 Central website for more great information about ground-up initiatives taking place in the Pretoria CBD. Thank you Mareli for giving us your time and sharing your valuable insights!

Extended thanks to Beerhouse for accommodating and allowing our group to gather at their wonderful establishment. We encourage all those passing through the Centurion area to stop and check them out!

Written By: Stephanie Craig