By Malcolm Mitchell
A pristine environment is necessary for the mental, physical, and economic health of any community – and all members of the community need to assist in preserving the ambience of the environment.
Until a few decades ago Hillcrest had a pleasant unlittered village atmosphere, and in the 20th century and earlier, Hillcrest was leafy and pleasant area to live in – as a dormitory village for Durban. Life was simple, quiet, and happy in a village atmosphere.
During the latter part of the 20th century Hillcrest was “discovered”, and a building boom began. In line with the rapidly growing rate of urbanisation throughout South Africa, Hillcrest experienced a strong building and development movement. This changed Hillcrest from being a pleasant village in which to live, into what eventually became a bustling commercial centre as well as embracing a plethora of gated communities.
The “commercialisation” of Hillcrest has transformed the area in many ways. Whilst it has brought perhaps greater wealth for many, it has also destroyed the pleasant atmosphere of the area. Realising the inevitability of urban sprawl with all its negative consequences, a small group of concerned citizens have for the past 16 years been trying to stem the inevitable degradation of our living conditions.
Based on the example of the Keep America Beautiful initiative in the USA, a Keep Hillcrest Beautiful Association was created in 2006. This body was very successful in stemming the tide of environmental degradation in the area. So much so that 5 years after it commenced its activities, the founder of the body, Marge Mitchell ,was awarded a rotary club award for Outstanding Services to the Highway Community.
Its main areas of activity initially were based on beautifying the CBD area, the removal of unsightly illegal advertising signs with the approval of the municipality, managing a recycling depot on behalf of the municipality (currently the second largest in the province, based on tonnage of recycling material handled), encouraging businesses to play their role in maintaining a pleasing environmental ambience for their properties whose verges fronted onto the roads in the area, removing unsightly graffiti, educating the youth in the benefits of environmental preservation, maintaining the rail reserve with its cycle/walking track through Hillcrest free of alien vegetation and overgrown grass, and many other similar activities directed towards maintaining a pleasant environment in the area.
The choice facing the citizens of Hillcrest was between two alternatives: the environmental pleasing Umhlanga area, of the unpleasant environmental situation existing in large parts of Pinetown, or worse the example of many areas in the Durban, commonly termed “Dirtbin”.
With the passage of time the original volunteers who have devoted much effort and time towards the laudable aims of KHBA have now all reached ages where they do not have the necessary physical capacity to continue. Efforts are continually being made to pass on the baton to young blood in the community, particularly the business community, towards improving the environment in which the Hillcrest community lives and works.
This is an appeal to the greater Hillcrest community, particularly the business community rather than a few committed persons, to “roll up their sleeves” and assist in improving the ambience of the area in which we all live.
- This assistance can take many forms, only some of which are:
- Join KHBA or provide financial assistance for KHBA
- For business and private householders to maintain their verges in a pleasant condition
- Organise litter pickups
- Sponsor a landscape business to assist in the beautification of the area
- General assistance in maintaining a pleasant ambience in the area
The list is only restricted by one’s imagination – so please help maintain Hillcrest as a pleasant suburb and one which people wish to visit for business and other activities!
FOR MORE INFO visit https://www.khba.org.za