Campaign aims to revive Jakarta’s neglected parks

Campaign aims to revive Jakarta’s neglected parks
Breathing room: Children play during a “Hidden Park” event at Tanjung Park, Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta, Sunday. Initiated by activists, Hidden Park is a campaign for development of parks as family recreational places in the capital, where property projects have taken toll on public open spaces.

Fun fact: the capital city has nearly 1,000 public parks, but only 15 of them are fit for use. This statistic was released by the Jakarta Parks and Cemetery Agency alongside Hidden Park, a campaign to promote and revive public parks in Jakarta, most of which are abandoned or neglected.

Now in its third year, the annual Hidden Park event is being held on weekends throughout September at the Tanjung Public Park in Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta. Communications consultant Leaf Plus is organising the event in conjunction with the Jakarta Parks and Cemetery Agency. The previous Hidden Parks were held in Langsat and Tebet public parks, both in South Jakarta.

“This year, we are targeting children and families, particularly those living in the neighborhood, after focusing on social media users in the past two years. We rely on those who live in the neighborhood to look after our public parks,” Hidden Park community coordinator Diti Adithiyasanti Sofia told The Jakarta Post during the soft- launching ceremony on Saturday. In the first weekend of the month-long event, the Hidden Park saw dozens of volunteers, called “parktivists”, planting vegetables, including spinach, kangkung (water spinach) and pak choi.

“We planted organic vegetables today so we can harvest them in the last week of the event,” said parktivist Kenny Ivanzaky Augusta, a sophomore student at Gunadharma University. Children’s movies are to be screened on Saturday evenings, kicking off with the omnibus Princess, Bajak Laut dan Alien (the Princess, the Pirate and the Alien).

“Public parks are mostly deserted at night because of the lack of supporting facilities like lighting. The Tanjung public park actually has lighting facilities sufficient for a football stadium, but the transformer was stolen. So we’re hosting activities in the evenings to show that parks can be fun at night too,” Diti said. A tough mission, it seems. “Most people aren’t comfortable being in parks at night. They believe that the place is haunted, dark and crime-ridden,” she said.

Diti added that changing that particular paradigm was among the challenges faced by the campaign.

For that reason, she continued, the organizer was involving urban communities and engaging local residents.

“We encourage residents to choose parks over shopping malls, and to keep parks clean at the same time. We also encourage parents not to worry excessively about their children playing outdoors,” she said.

Enung, a Tanjung Barat resident, said she liked to take her four children to the Tanjung park. “It is cheaper than taking my children to the mall. But the public park lacks facilities for children. I hope [the city administration] will add swings and a slide,” she told the Post.

The Hidden Park offers a number of activities in four different zones: kids’ zone, urban farming corner, outdoor library and community zone. The first weekend (Sept. 6-7) bears “exploring nature” as the theme, encouraging parktivists to plant vegetables and, on Sunday, holding a “park hunt” in which visitors will be challenged to identify local trees.

The second weekend (Sept. 13-14) is for sporty types; groups including Sketsaku and Workout Embassy will host a range of activities.

A concert featuring pop group RAN is scheduled for the third weekend (Sept. 20-21). A charity will attend the concert to collect funds for the development of public parks in Jakarta.

For the last weekend (Sept. 27-28), the organizer will initiate a community gathering, offering various activities including pet adoption and batik-making.

The organizer is aiming for a total of 2,000 visitors over the month-long event.

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