Meet a Change-Maker : Claire du Trevou
“Freedom, to me, means the ability to have options.” – Claire du Trevou
Getting to know
Claire du Trevou
Freelance Urban Researcher & Architect
We met Claire in July 2021 in the midst of a global pandemic and just as Claire’s marriage was ending. Claire described herself as being broke, vulnerable and terrified at that time, although from our point of view we saw her as incredibly brave and courageous in making the decision to reach out for help at that scary and difficult point in her Life.
We’ve walked a journey together and learned so many wonderful things about Claire on the way. Claire loves roller-skating, reading and all things urban. She’s an excellent napper, creative problem solver, and strategic thinker. An architect by profession, Claire is a true Change-Maker by heart with a passion in understanding and working with the complex ecosystems of township rental economies.
This has translated into Claire being part of the founding team of Bitprop, a really cool company who partner with homeowners to finance, design and build backyard rental accommodation. She describes the work as incredible, though she chose to step away to pursue an MBA and now works as a freelance urban researcher where she loves researching and following various lines of enquiry.
Claire’s heart is most happiest when she is working on the ground and connecting with people. From running workshops, to facilitating co-design processes, she is happiest among others. With a deep curiosity that drives her to question everything, she is fiercely enthusiastic about transformation in South Africa and our cities and is constantly interrogating and probing the suite of options that have the potential to unlock inclusive regeneration of our cities.
We are in awe of her passion for making our cities, and South Africa, more inclusive, economically sustainable, empowering and beautiful spaces. Claire is a true example of a Change-Maker as she strives to leave the world better than how she found it.
We recently spent time with Claire to explore more about who she is and what inspires her.
What are you most proud of?
My resilience. There have been some incredibly difficult personal, career, and life challenges in the last 3 years (in addition to covid, lockdowns, global dystopia), and every-time something new goes wrong, every time I get a piece of bad news – I think: this is it. I just can’t any more. But then, somehow, somewhere, little sprouts of resilience appear, and I am able to carry on.
What is the greatest challenge you’ve faced along your journey to now?
Learning that I can do ANYTHING… but not everything. (Also, today’s Wordle…)
Complete the sentence “Money is important to me because…”
“Money is important to me because it affords me the holidays (both physical and mental) that allow me to rest and recover, so I can continue to work on the projects I am deeply passionate about.”
What do you do and who do you do it for?
I am an Architect and Urbanist, with a focus on affordable housing and informal settlement upgrading. I am really passionate about the transformation of our cities, and the work I do focuses on what inclusive regeneration of south African townships can look like.
My work currently focuses on the Backyard rental space, and advocating for improved development rights for homeowners, enabling them to unlock the financial value of their land.
What do you love most about what you do?
One of my early career mentors told me: “Architecture is just creative problem solving” and really that’s what I love about what I do. I have never been good at, or particularly enjoyed designing actual buildings, but looking at our cities, seeing the innovation and creativity that exists already and then finding ways to amplify that is what I really love the most.
What brings meaning, purpose and fulfillment to your LIFE?
I would like to be remembered for contributing to the equitable and just transformation of South African townships from homogenous residential areas to thriving, sustainable, economically, great neighbourhoods.
This is why I have left answering this question for last. Because the work I do and problems I engage with on a day to day basis are really what brings me meaning and purpose.
What has working with MJ2F been like for you?
I came to M&M just as my marriage was ending. I was broke, vulnerable, and terrified. Money had always been an anxiety inducing piece of admin I’d manage to avoid by just leaving it to my husband.
But slowly, with kindness and generosity, both Marguerite and Mary walked with me on my journey. The Journey! And what a journey it has been! They both went above and beyond, especially through the more daunting moments of facing fears, they helped me let go of debilitating beliefs, and really empowered me to make both hard and informed decisions.
What I love most about working with the M’s, is that while they are there (no really, like THERE!), they have never once made me feel like I am incapable of making a decision. Rather, they ask probing questions, give informed feedback, and reveal to you just how magical and capable you really are!
I’d give them all of my money if I could – but I know now that’s it’s probably not the best move for my financial future… (we agree Claire! That’s why we’re so excited you’ve started investing towards your financial future!)