Open letter to councillor, Aimee Kuhl: Apparently there’s been a bit of a tussle over the future of the Muizenberg huts. It’s believed you (or the council as a whole) want to be rid of them as they are an eyesore and used by criminal elements to deal in drugs and who knows what else. But I see this is inaccurate and you’re not in favour of tearing them down.
As you so rightly point out the public are very passionate about these huts and want them to stay. They are iconic, deserve to be made use of and are a great asset to the photographic community.
I couldn’t agree with the community more. According to one report you posted on the Muizenberg Notice Boards Facebook page that: “As part of this process we are looking at refurbishing the beach huts at the main beach area to make them functional again and usable to the broader public benefit. Muizenberg will NOT lose all its beach huts and the iconic photographic value of them will be retained at the main beach area.”
Well Aimee – that’s great. Can we work together on this? I think most of us are all very keen on getting these beach huts functional again.
The problem you say though is that the City/ council can’t foot the bill alone. And that’s fine too.
Without even looking further at the Muizenberg Facebook group, I have a couple of suggestions of my own about what these huts could be used for and I believe that they should benefit families, surfers and moms and children in particular. Maybe if some or all of them are implemented there’d be buy in from the community or businesses? So here’s my suggestions Aimee:
- Pop-up store: There’s always talk about supporting entrepreneurs so why not let this space be rented out by small businesses to sell clothing, beachwear, pottery, etc., on those hot summer days. As its Women’s Month I’d like to suggest that these are primarily allocated to women that have small businesses who want to sell their ware there. Small businesswomen need all the support they can get!
- Food stalls: It’s been suggested that these huts be used as food stalls and I think that this is a rather nifty idea. Food trucks have been the rage lately and these huts would provide the perfect alternative. Whatever happened to us all enjoying hot dogs and ice creams on the beach?
- Challenge venue for My Kitchen Rules SA (MKR): I just love MKR – don’t you Aimee? If you’re not sure what it is, it’s an Australian cooking show which pits pairs of contestants against each other for an ultimate prize of $100,000. There’s a South African version coming to our screens soon and I don’t see why they can’t use the Muizenberg huts for one of the challenge episodes. The challenges in the Australian version have the pairs cook from food trucks on several occasions. With a bit of ingenuity and a small cash injection to do some upgrades MKR SA could use these huts in one of their episodes. Why not reach out to them?
- Photoshoot venue: Once the huts have enjoyed a bit of an upgrade they could then be used in future shows, commercials, photos shoots etc., and can be rented out by you to agencies, amateur and professional photographers alike. I suggest making it affordable though so that small businesses, agencies and photographers can all benefit.
- Breastfeeding and baby change room: It’s World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August) and I suggest that at least one of the huts be converted to accommodate breast feeding moms and parents that need to use them to change their babies. Too often beaches in Cape Town don’t have these kinds of facilities and, if they do, they’re often uninviting and smell bad. While some moms are happy to breastfeed in public, others don’t feel as comfortable and it should be their choice if they want to cover up or find a comfortable venue in order to do so. How about making Muizenberg baby friendly – parents will love you for it Aimee!
- Cloak room: Let’s also cater to the surfers and swimmers, particularly the ones that come alone. Where do they stash their bags and car keys? I suggest creating a cloak room managed by a responsible person who, for a small fee of like say R5, keeps people’s belongings safe. More swimmers, surfers and body boarders will feel more comfortable knowing they can go out and enjoy their sport without having to worry about their belongings.
- Health clinic: On hot summer days in Cape Town we could all perhaps need a check-up in the event we feel ill. There’s so much that can go wrong on the beach from sunstroke, sunburn to dehydration and drownings. Why can’t one of the huts be used by medical teams and help to store some basic first aid equipment? Even Discovery Health or Momentum could perhaps rent one out for people to do their health checks. The possibilities are endless. I would reach out to these companies if I were you Aimee!
- Lifeguard huts: I’m not saying that we should channel David Hasselhof in Baywatch here, but he’s about as iconic as the huts themselves – so why not? These huts could be used by lifeguards as their station for their lifesaving equipment. I’m sure they don’t need much space.
- Rent it all out: These huts could just be rented out like they were in the past. I’m not sure what happened to this concept but it could surely be re-introduced? Maybe they could be rented out on the likes of South African online platform Wahi, which enables people to rent out storage space? Or they could simply serve as a home away from home. Where people can rent them out, keep their surf stuff, beach towels – they can offer shade and a place to ‘park off’ in front while enjoying a great day at the beach. They’re also just perfect for small kids and babies – keep their beach toys in, etc. Check out this story of how a British family enjoyed owning and using a beach hut. Obviously, security could be an issue. But here’s where beach hut owners and the council can maybe club together to hire a security company/guard. It in turn creates employment – everybody wins!
- Start a surf school for disadvantaged children: Finally, Aimee, if you want to make a difference why don’t we offer up the beach huts to a surf school that wants to teach kids how to surf. The Stoked School of Surf posed in front of the huts in July and posted up a photo on Facebook. They clearly love the huts so why not reach other to them or some of the other numerous surf schools in Muizenberg?
With so many possibilities Aimee, there are plenty of reasons to keep these beach huts and rejuvenate them. I’m sure I am not the only one with ideas. I hope you reach out to the community and keep us posted on what will happen to the huts. And maybe you could take some of my ideas on board? I certainly hope so!
Photos courtesy of Tim Cubitt of Sixfootsixpix