Final days in the Ciliwung river communities

We have spent the rest of our time since the pre-opening adding a roof to the stage and making some minor improvements. We also asked both children and adults from all the kampungs to contribute shapes to a long banner made from the same material used for the roof, which we wrapped around the handrail of the stage. We also found some time for some sightseeing in Jakarta, including the large art space run by Ruangrupa in south Jakarta.

Our final event was a presentation with our partners, the Rujak Center for Urban studies. We talked about the theory behind the project, the process, the result and had a Q&A session.

On Monday we said farewell to our hosts in the Lodan, Kerapu and Tongkol kampungs. We have had an astonishing adventure with the residents of the Ciliwung river communities. Their involvement and interest in us and in what we were doing has made the project a great success. It has been a true collaboration. To stimulate the next stage of the project we presented our partners with a large toolbox full of useful things. We are of course very curious what they will produce with these.

Thank you to the residents of Tongkol, Kerapu and Lodan. We will remember our time with you fondly and look forward to visiting again in the future!

Opening party

After just over a week of intensive working on the stage, we were ready for the opening party on Tuesday night. While we were away at Penjaringan kampung the day before, many of our collaborators from the neighbourhood continued working on the roof and tiling the road in front of it. We also added some lighting and coloured LEDs around the edge of the stage.

We had a huge turnout – it seemed like almost everyone from Tongkol, Kerapu and Lodan was present. There was a barbecue with grilled fish, singing and dancing, several dance performances by local children in costume and finally some karaoke to end the night.

This time instead of photos we have a short video of the opening party for you.

Stage number two – Penjaringan kampung

We have spent a day away from Tongkol and Kerapu working on our second site in Penjaringan kampung, also in north Jakarta.

Last week we met with Trotoart, our partners in the area, to discuss our plans. We proposed building a small raised stage/viewing platform. This would be light enough to be moved around by a team of people, while being stable enough for small groups of people to stand or sit on. It could for example be used to watch football games being played on the field where we constructed it or as a secluded place for young people to hang out. Or it could be used as a stage for theatre performances or music.

The stage was constructed in just one day using only recycled materials purchased from local traders. Together with a large team of hard-working volunteers we worked all day to complete it. The plan is that the stage may be used for a karaoke competition during a festival in January, which would include a live video link with the stage we have built between Tongkol and Kerapu kampungs.

Installing stage

On Friday, construction of the stage continued, this time by installing the steelwork, painting it and beginning to install the wooden stage floor. After taking a break on Saturday we continued on Sunday with the rest of the floor and the handrails and roof structure. As can be seen in the photos, there were plenty of people on hand to accelerate the process. It is astonishing how quickly construction of the stage has proceeded – from concept sketches on Monday evening to being almost complete the following Sunday. We plan to celebrate the completion of the main part of the stage with a party on Tuesday evening.

Construction begins

The first step in construction was to visit the local steel factory to order the steelwork that will support the stage. The friendly manager there was very interested in our project and offered a very good price since it is for a community project. Construction could also start immediately.

Many people from the neighbourhood have offered to help, both with their expertise and with construction itself. While we waited for the steel we began digging holes next to the retaining wall of the river to mount large bolts to hold the stage in place. These were concreted in place, once again with plenty of local help.

On Wednesday we bought wood for the stage surface. This was supplied by a local timber merchant and was brought to the working site by wooden cart and by the small local ferry build and run by the local community.

On Thursday we visited Penjaringan kampung again to plan the project we will carry out there next week. We were able to visit a number of suppliers of recycled materials.

Developing, presenting and discussing ideas

We have spent the last few days presenting our initial ideas to the community, getting feedback and further developing them. The Tongkol and Krapu kampungs, which both lie on the Ciliwung river in northern Jakarta, are separated by a narrow, barren stretch of land. There was previously some housing on this land that was demolished by the city authorities some time ago due to a law that buildings must be no less than 5m from the banks of the river. The leaders of the two communities, and the Lodan kampung on the other side of the river, expressed a wish to reactivate this area and to create a space for community activities. We came up with the idea of building a covered stage that would overhang the river. As well as having a practical function as a venue for cultural activities, and giving a purpose to an otherwise desolate place, the structure – occupying space above the river than on the land – would also serve as an ironic commentary on the authorities’ destructive policies.

We held a public meeting in the mosque in Krapu kampung on Sunday night to present this plan. We then prepared sketches and a model for a smaller meeting with village leaders the following evening. They were very interested in our idea and also contributed a lot of useful practical advice. We were delighted to receive their approval for our plans and prepared to start working the next day.

Arrival and first days in Jakarta

After a very warm welcome in Kampung Tongkol, our home for the next few weeks, we have spent the last few days getting to know the neighbourhood as well as Kampung Penjaringan, the other location for our project.


Continue reading “Arrival and first days in Jakarta”