City-Zen is a community project, registered as a NON-Profit Organisation, with the aim of creating cleaner, greener and safer cities. Started by Dan Hunt and Najen Naidoo, who met through their mutual passion for their communities and a desire to be part of the solution to South Africa’s numerous social challenges. Dan started out cleaning the Rivonia section of the Sandspruit River, spending 10 years cutting back growth and bush along the river banks to create the pristine environment it is today – which is now home to fish, ducks, walking and bike trails and is secured with cameras.
During this time Najen was actively working in the community tackling crime and looking for alternative ways to reduce crime through the creation of jobs for the unemployed and homeless. Soon after meeting they decided to join forces and form City-Zen. The aim of City-Zen is to build an active community of engaged citizens who are looking to reduce crime through the creation of employment whilst uplifting their own neighborhoods.
It is a project by the community for the community.
Research indicates that neighborhoods struggling with physical decline and high crime often become safer simply when local residents work together to clean and fix up their neighborhood and enjoy the public spaces together, driving the criminal element out. City-Zen provides jobs for the unemployed and under privileged by helping them make a meaningful contribution to the community and to develop basic skills and trust in the neighborhood whilst earning a dignified living. City-Zen has a current team of 5 people (mostly previously unemployed), 5 casuals and around 10 informal vendors, car guards and beggars at the various intersections who actively weed, sweep and clean their surrounds. The idea is to provide purpose and meaning to the lives of the less fortunate whilst providing them with a decent days wage instead of just begging for a living.
The general cleanup areas currently cover well over 10 square kilometres and include Rivonia and parts of Gallo Manor, Morningside and Bryanston. By raising donations from residents and companies in the area who see the work we are doing, we are hoping to increase the footprint to more and more areas. Our aim is to make a meaningful difference in the city where residents are willing to donate to help to employ the less fortunate who are doing an honest day of work that the donors can see every day of their lives.
The end result is a greener, safer environment for families.