Welcome to Johannesburg;
Project World School Comes to South Africa for a teen temporary learning community
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Learning Reimagined Family Conference 11/12 February 2017

Welcome to Johannesburg - Or Jozi as we locals like to call it!

We imagine that most families attending the conference will be local Jozi residents. We do know that there will be quite a few families coming from further afield. I (Claire) host an airbnb cottage on our property and visitors from out of town are always amazed at the range on offer for the tourist visiting Johannesburg. This city does have a bad reputation for crime and we wouldn’t discount this as a truth. By implementing a few simple security conscious habits, listed below, life here can be pretty safe and very enjoyable.

Firstly a brief history, the city itself has grown at an exceptional rate on the back of the gold rush which began in the 1880’s. Prior to this Johannesburg used to be grassland, known as the Highveld, with the nomadic san tribes living in harmony alongside with wildlife: buck in many forms, lions, elephants, zebras, giraffe, leopards, caracal, jackals, and a variety of snakes. It was certainly a difficult and painful transition for many to become the city it now is.

Johannesburg arguably has one of the best climates in the country. Our rainy season is during the summer months and at one point in time you could set your clock by the afternoon thunderstorm. Nowadays the thunderstorms are less predictable but a regular occurrence none the less. Summer nights are warm and beautiful. So Saturday night's conference festivities are sure to be amazing.

Probably the biggest surprise to visitors when they first come to Johannesburg is that we share the city with 6 million trees. Johannesburg has been described as the largest man made urban forest in the world. On satellite images Johannesburg looks like a jungle. Many of our trees are imports. Suburban roads are tree lined with Jacarandas, Oaks and Plain trees. In more recent times there has been a strong drive to reduce foreign flora and fauna, promoting indigenous plants and trees. The Walter Sisulu Botanical gardens, where the Learning Reimagined conference is being held, is a forerunner in this endeavour.

A visit to Johannesburg is likely to raise questions about the Apartheid regime. While we don’t have Robben Island that is in the Cape or Nelson Mandela’s capture site that is in Kwazulu Natal, we do have my (Claire’s) favourite Lilliesleaf Farm where Nelson Mandela lived, disguised as a gardener, prior to his capture which led to the infamous Rivonia treason trial, and his subsequent life sentence. Other places are the Apartheid museum across from Gold Reef City, Museum Africa which captures the experience of the Rivonia Trial, Soweto’s Vilakazi street where two Nobel Peace Prize winners resided, and Constitution Hill. Most of these are accessible via the Hop On Hop Off City Sightseeing Bus Tour. One can also organise a tour into a very vibrant Soweto. A visit to the Soweto Arts and Crafts Fair is highly recommended.

Gold Reef city today is a major theme park set around a disused gold mine and replica Victorian village. It is possible to descend into a disused gold mine, getting a small sense of what work in a gold mine is all about. In contrast, why not spend the day at the Lesedi Cultural Village where the visitor gets to experience many of the different cultures that make up this rainbow nation of ours.

In less than an hour’s drive out of Jozi is the stunning Magaliesburg mountain range which offers numerous private game experiences. On route to Magaliesburg, and close to the Learning Reimagined Conference venue, is the area referred to as the Cradle of Human Kind where the 2.3 million year old fossil nicknamed Mrs Ples was discovered in the Sterkfontein caves in 1947 and the more recent ground breaking discovery of the burial site remains of a new species named Homo Naledi. A visit to Maropeng, an interactive visitor centre for the Cradle of Human Kind World Heritage site, is highly recommended. For the more adventurous, there is also the Wild Caves (the one featured in the South African leg of Amazing Race) which you could abseil down into.

Shopping malls abound in Jozi and it is possible to get any necessity there. Centres worth a mention are Sandton City, Rosebank Mall, CradleStone Mall (about 6kms from the Conference Venue), Cresta and Mall of Africa. In stark contrast to our high end malls, there are homeless people at many of the traffic lights, begging for food or loose change highlighting the huge inequalities in our city. There are many informal settlements around the city.

For the arty visitors, in the Rosebank area you will find the Goodman gallery. You may like to pay them a visit and as well as the numerous other art galleries that cluster in this part of town. It is here where the controversial painting of Zuma called The Spear was on exhibition a few years back. There are numerous areas throughout the city offering indigenous art, metal and beadwork.

The revamped CBD area of Maboneng is well worth exploring. The area is set around the African Design Centre and has taken off as a trendy area for restaurants and niche shopping. Still in the CBD, but in the Newtown district, the Sci Bono Discovery Science Centre is definitely worth a visit as well as the Museum Africa across from it. The suburb of Melville offers a similar experience and we would recommend a visit to 27Boxes a new trendy shopping centre built out of containers. Another hidden gem is 44 Stanley - a unique quaint place with an amazing vibe, to get great food, buy things from local designers and to find unusual gifts to take back home.

For those that can afford it, eating out is the biggest past time for those residing in Jozi and it is a delicious experience. There is every type of food catered for from vegan, halaal and vegetarian to carnivores delight, Cape Malay curry to traditional pap and gravy or braai’s (barbecues) offering boerewors. We will elicit local attendees' favourite places to eat closer to the time on the Learning Reimagined Facebook Group.


As far as safety goes, here are some basic rules to stay safe in this beautiful city.

  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.

  • Don’t carry or flaunt expensive, phones, laptops or jewellery.

  • Stay in groups when walking in parks or outside.

  • Drive with windows up and try not to engage with beggars as occasionally this can result in smash and grab incidents. Keep valuables and handbags out of sight or locked in the boot (trunk).

  • When exiting or entering your accommodation be aware of who is around and ensure the gate is closed firmly behind you.

Places to visit in Johannesburg

  • Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens

  • Apartheid Museum

  • Liliesleaf Farm

  • Museum Africa

  • Johannesburg Red Bus tour (with extended Soweto Visit)

  • Victorian House

  • Melville, 44 Stanley, 27Boxes and Moboneng with their multicultural vibe

  • Sandton City and Mandela Square

  • Rosebank Flea Market on Sunday’s

  • Montecasino, a casino but also great for the family in true Las Vegas bling there is a bird show, theatres, movies and multitude of restaurants.

Places to visit within an hour’s drive outside Johannesburg

  • Magaliesburg with its ancient mountain range and lovely walks. Olive Tree Farm conservancy where you can walk and see zebra, buck, wildebeest and a family of giraffe. Eat out at the Black Horse which offers a first class setting under pecan nut trees. Ascari to see close up and personal a pair of African lions.

  • Maropeng Visitors Centre (20 minutes from the Conference Venue)

  • Haartebeespoort with its recently revamped cable car ride providing spectacular views. It has a lovely dam, art venues and African sculptures.


A little further afield up to 5 hour’s drive

  • Kruger National Park – no introduction needed here, but free roaming Big 5 and plenty of other wildlife are worth mentioning

  • The Panorama Meander: Hazyview, God’s Window, Waterfalls and so much more

  • The quaint village of Clarens, Golden Gate Highlands National Park in the Maluti Mountain range which forms part of the Drakensburg Mountain Range

  • Drakensberg, Champagne valley where you can attend an international renowned boys choir the Drakensburg Choir, hike in the stunning range or visit the natural amphitheatre

  • Sun City and Pilanesberg National Park (Game Reserve).


So where to stay for LRC...

Many of you have been asking and options are finally up on the website.   Airbnb and Uber are very effective options in the Johannesburg area. Please do chat to us if you have any questions. All bookings are to be done directly with the establishment.

“I can honestly say my cultural horizon and worldviews have been expanded because of everything we did and experienced during the retreat.”
-Oliver Brown, 16

Project World School Comes to South Africa

Project World School was founded by mother and son Lainie Liberti and Miro Siegel, who have been slow travelling for over seven years now. Considering themselves to be “accidental unschoolers”, both have learned tremendously from their worldschooling experiences. Through their journeys, they were inspired to collaborate with other worldschoolers. From this desire, Project World School - temporary learning communities for teens - was born.

Lainie and Miro are both scheduled to participate in the conference.  And Immediately after the conference, Lainie, Miro and Kaameel kick off  Project World School South Africa: 13th to 27th November 2017. Check it out. It is an amazing itinerary, showcasing the beauty of South African Culture, Nature and Wildlife – the kind that makes you want to be a teen again.  Lainie also facilitates a range of games and discussions designed to be a truly transformative experience for teens and young adults. 

We are offering PWS participants (and their parents or siblings) a discount on the conference fees. If you are interested in attending, please contact us directly.

Previous Newsletters

We've had many requests for the previous newsletters so we thought we'd list them here again for the benefit of those that have recently subscribed.

Newsletter One: Announcing Guest Speaker and Facilitator Manish Jain

Newsletter Two: Introducing The Organisers and the Motivation for the Conference

Newsletter Three: Introducing the Beautiful Venue and the First of the Funshops (Upcycling)

Newsletter Four: Lainie and Miro of Project World School are coming to SA and introducing the Second of the Funshops (Woodwork)

Newsletter Five: Meet Mia from Transformational Parenting; Introducing the Third of the Funshops (Polymer Clay)

Registration for the Conference

If you're anything like us, then chances are that you are leaving registration for the last week before the early bird deadline. Which is okay – except that the server might not cope with all the traffic. So a special request for a staggered registration. Remember your payment is due on or before the 29 October 2016 to qualify for the early bird rate. So you can get your registration in in the meantime.

In Closing

As always, we would love to hear from you if you have any questions or suggestions. We are flexible and committed to creating an event that is inclusive of diverse needs – as far as we can. After all what is a community if it can't accommodate diverse needs. That's why if you have a special need please do talk to us. No promises, but do give us a chance to meet your need if possible. You are also invited to join in on and initiate discussions on the Learning Reimagined Conference Facebook Group.
Looking forward to meeting you all. 


Zakiyya and Claire

P.S. Get your registration in soon 

Copyright © 2016 Growing Minds / Learning Reimagined Conference, All rights reserved.

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