A resident from Tafelsig wants to beautify open spaces in the area, one mural at a time. Michael Bell (48) established the Tafelsig Placemaking initiative last year with the idea being to develop public spaces, making it more “liveable”. According to Bell, the initiative aims to address the social issues in the community, including violence and substance abuse. He said: “Having noticed what’s been going on in the area, the parks and public spaces have become a no-go area for our children, our women and the public in general.” He said most of the gang wars are being fought in these open spaces and many have become dumping and landfill sites. According to Bell, this has been a concern in the community, and he felt something had to be done.“My passion is public spaces and mural art because I have been exposed to it over the years. During my travels, I saw how other cities addressed issues by developing their parks and public spaces,” said Bell. Bell said the painting of murals, which started a few weeks ago, is a community-driven initiative. “We hope to look at other spaces in and around the area as well.”According to Bell, there are many stakeholders involved in this initiative and although the project started last year, it is still a work in progress. Bell said the response from the community since the launch of the initiative has been great. “People who would normally do drugs and are part of gangs have offered their time to assist. When we had our launch, residents came out of their homes for the first time in months. They are claiming their space back,” said Bell. He said even the eight- and nine-year-olds came out to help on the day the project was launched.Bell said the goal was to portray a positive image for children and to create positive role models for them. “We see children walk past the images of the numbers gangs painted on the walls. “Because they see this every day, they begin to identify with it and it becomes acceptable because it’s all they see.”Bell said the community should start creating positive images for children to look at, to give them something to aspire to. “We want to create awareness. Let’s begin to see Mitchell’s Plain’s future as a blank canvas.”The Tafelsig Placemaking initiative has architects, planners and artists on board but it still needs sponsors for paint and brushes.