There was something quite magical at Princess Vlei on 22 July, when over forty friends, family and community volunteers came together to honour the memory of George Davis.
George was a founding member of the Princess Vlei Forum, and had been involved in the Dressing the Princess project to restore indigenous vegetation at Princess Vlei from 2008, four years before before the Forum was launched. He also served on the Forum's management committee for 2 years, and together with Laurence Dworkin created a powerful documentary about the Princess Vlei project. He died in February this year, after a long illness.
Stacey Stent, George's life partner, spoke about George's passionate commitment to the conservation of Princess Vlei, as well as the many other conservation projects that he was involved in. "I have observed a common element in all his work, which was his concern that humans sustain a positive balance with the environment, so that they do not present a threat to biodiversity."
Stacey quoted an interview with George, in which he said, “Humans need to be listened to when they want to live cooperatively with their environment, and humans who don’t want to need to stand back and listen.”
While it is traditional to plant trees to honour those who have passed on, George was passionate about fynbos - and so it was appropriate that we were planting proteas and watsonias. About 15 species and 500 plants were put in the ground. Amongst these were 25 Aristea dichotima, a plant once flourishing at Princess Vlei but not seen since 1910. This plant will not be seen at Rondevlei or further south, as these vleis are too salty.
Also honoured in the planting was Father John Oliver, who died ten years ago in July 2013. Like George, Father John was a founding member of the Princess Vlei Forum, who was instrumental in setting up the organisaiton. He too was passionately committed to saving the Vlei from commercial development.
It was a bright sunny day, a relief after all rain. The planting was greatly enhanced by the beautiful harmonies of volunteers from the Centre for Creative Education, who invited the other planters to join in the chorus of “Stand bright in your corner, where you are.”
George and John both “shone bright in their corners”, and their brightness continues to shine at Princess Vlei. It shines in the plants, birds and insects that flourish in the space where a mall was planned, and in the many children and community members who gather to enjoy the beauty, and to plant and nurture fynbos each year. We greatly miss them, but their spirit lives on.
Posts by Bridget Pitt unless stated otherwise.