Thrive’s Bronwen spreading her roots

Bronwen Lankers-Byrne on her well-known green scooter.

It has been a remarkable journey for the 10-year-old organisation’s founder, who has taken Thrive from a recycling start-up to a major player in Cape Town’s environmental efforts.

While she will still sit on the board and remain as a Thrive mentor, she believes it is time to step aside and allow others to explore new and fresh ideas.

“I’m handing over because I’m now getting in the way. As a founder I think it’s important to step aside and let others try new things. I’ve done what I’ve set out to do. There is now a wonderful team in place who will be able to take the organisation forward.”

Thrive now has the funds to pay four full-time staff: executive director Helen Adendorff; sustainable community manager Nontsikelelo Martel; invasive clearing and food gardens supervisor Zikhona Mdalase and a person who will be appointed to fill Ms Lankers-Byrne’s position as sustainable schools manager.

The vision for Thrive was born out of a project called Imagine Hout Bay. The purpose was to unite the residents of Hout Bay around a collected vision using an appreciative inquiry approach.

The result was the formation of a voluntary steering committee which drove an action plan across nine sectors, including health, business and environmental education.

While Imagine Hout Bay as a project waned, the torch was carried over by other organisations that worked on different aspects of the original vision, including “The 3Rs”, which later became Zero Waste Hout Bay.

These organisations then morphed into one called Green Living, focusing on environmental activism, awareness and action. Its pillars of focus were food, water, energy and waste.

From this Thrive was born, initially with a specific focus on waste and recycling.

In 2008, the organisation set up the Hout Bay Recycling Depot behind the police station.

“Within a month, we had created 10 jobs for the community, thanks in the main to resident Jemimah Birch who was dedicated to the project,” Ms Lankers-Byrne said.

“We also decided we wanted to educate schools about recycling, and it was imperative to also set up community projects around this.”

In 2010, Thrive was offered a space at the then Oven Door (now Spiro’s) restaurant, where the organisation established a waste awareness point.

At that stage, Thrive chose to expand to the other environmental pillars.

A “green living” survey was sent out and responded to by more than 500 residents, showing that Hout Bay was fully in support of harnessing a green, sustainable future.
Thrive won R60 000 in a Unesco environmental competition, using the money to plant 300 fruit and nut trees and establish vegetable gardens at local schools.

The popular Enviro Quiz, carried annually in the Sentinel, was another project initiated by Ms Lankers-Byrne during her tenure.

“I started something that was low-key and it just took off,” she quipped.

She thanked the community of Hout Bay for all their support over the years. “Working with people has groomed me. It helps me keep tabs on the ego, which can interfere with my ability to see what has meaning.”

Ms Lankers-Byrne will now be undertaking a three-month trip to Europe, which will include a pilgrimage to Portugal. “Sri Moojibaba is my spiritual master who lives at the Monte Sahaja ashram.

“I will be joining six others in representing South Africa at the One Sangha Gathering from May 26 to June 2.

“There will be people attending from 60 different countries.”

During her trip, she will also be walking the Camino de Santiago. On her return to Hout Bay, she will be devoting much of her time to the No Name Initiative dialo
gues around Cape Town, which seek to facilitate greater understanding among the Mother City’s people.