Thursday, 27 December 2007

Renungan Akhir Tahun Seorang Blogger.

This is a year-end reflection of a blogger. I started my meditation blog in 2006 but did not really on to it. Then I knew citizen journalism websites, it made me more interested in blogging. My first post to the citizen journalism websites started in February 2007 it was not a full year experience, but it made me easier to analyze and reflect my own articles.

I talked about visits and points I got in wikimu's article. Not a good rate comparing to visits for my OMNI's article. Perhaps other contributors have better visit (either in wikimu or in OMNI). I am not really keen on visits and points if not for its readers' mapping. Actually I would like to have comments or articles that could help to outline my readers' mapping.

Below is my personal views and reflection that I did not convey in that article.

I have hinted from some contributors that serious news were not really high in readers' appreciation. I've got the same feeling. Hopefully through this we could see the need of online readers.

Before writing for a newspaper I used to study it for a while. I need to be its reader before I can submit my articles. Yet, readers in the internet are so varied...and so universal as well!

I read that Steve Outing had to close his Enthusiast Group, and read his piece "An Important Lesson About Grassroots Media".

I've heard from Dan Gillmor about his "experiment" when I met him in Seoul. I've also read a lot about the phrase "Citizen Journalism is Death"...It wasn't...It is still here and survives in its own way!

Citizen Journalism has just awakened in Indonesia. Wikimu is different in the sense that they are more into citizen. Kabar Indonesia is more into news. I can see the difference between the real article written by a contributor for wikimu and his other piece in Kabar Indonesia. The editors over there works a lot!

With OhmyNews I had to do the editing myself, the editor over there will only help me seeing through their perspective, and their final touch usually has something to do with the link and my English language presentation. When doing my piece for Ohmynews I did it the way I used to do my piece for mainstream media. I was even more careful as it will be read by universal readers, perhaps some of them did not even know where or what is Indonesia!

It is for the citizen or for the journalist? In wikimu the citizen got their chance to really talk. They use it as they wish...short or long, self-centered story or nation-centered story...it's really up to the contributors. The editors were sometimes confused over up loading articles, sometimes it would not fitted in journalistic term but it has valuable content for the community. Wikimu will grow up with their community. The readers are happy to be citizen, they reports things that matter to them. I saw that it help journalists in predicting their readers' interests. It helps them to provide better and deeper analyst in their own paper.

I do not like the term "grassroots journalism" as here in Indonesia if we talked about the real "grassroots", perhaps they are those who are not even able to know computer and the internet! The grassroots are busy to be able to make their daily bread accessible! They probably had to discontinue their children's study out of their economic burden! That is why I prefer the term "citizen journalism", being the citizen of the world! And as a citizen of the world we are also responsible to voice out the voice of the marginalized people.

I do have my financial problem, but as I am still able to connect into the internet that would means that I can still afford it as one of my priorities. There are more people out there who doesn't even know what to eat today and how to survive the next day. I do hope we'll be able to take the mainstream media, the government, and the world attention to help them.

My article on the lopers' day was the least popular one (loper is the Indonesian word for the newspaper boy). I think I'm gaining some lesson from the idol contest that not the most popular one got the quality, but to survive the marketing competition you've got to mixed them all!

Renungan Akhir Tahun

A citizen year-end reflection.

It is my reflection as a citizen who cares about my city and its urban development. Please visit the article in bahasa Indonesia. Even if you are not able to understand the language, I do hope you'll understand my message through the pictures. The editor put only three pictures out of five pictures that I sent them. Please share your thoughts, what did you find in my pictures' message? How would you compare it to your own urban problems?

Artikel...oh...Artikel

Sabtu, 22-12-2007 20:35:59 oleh: Retty N. Hakim
Kanal: Opini

It's about articles!

I was once write about the writer's honesty and integrity, commenting on the recycling article appeared on a national daily and got commented by a reader. When I wrote this one I was actually waiting comments from the senior and professional journalists to gave us some lectures (at least a hint) on journalism ethics. The comments were not really satisfied me.

The writer of article that I commented did send me an e-mail of explanation, longer than the one published in the newspaper as his answer.

So, when I saw in two different journals readers' letter about articles (one published by other name in another daily, and the other one is the verification of the writer on why his article appeared in two different daily newspapers on the same day), I felt it is urgent to ask others attention to this matter.

With news are now more open in the internet era, it will be easier for others to copy and paste our piece of writings. But at the same time it will be easier to detect if our article are used by other writers. Having a community will help also help us detecting any violation of our right as a writer.

So this article was published to ask the senior journalist to give us guidance on journalism ethics, and to ask fellow netizen to respect the writing ethics and to help watching over others' rights.

Kisah Dibalik Kartu Ucapan Pada Hari Ibu

Kamis, 20-12-2007 13:01:22 oleh: Retty N. Hakim
Kanal: Gaya Hidup

Stories behind mother's day cards.

My twins sent me their self made cards for mother's day. Mother's day in Indonesia is celebrated every December 22. It came from the women movement in Indonesia's political history. Later on the celebration was reduced more into thanking mother as in the mothers' day celebrated abroad.

In this article I presented the origin of mothers' day in the US, as we Indonesian usually copied action from the US. I also noted and link the history of mothers' day in Indonesia.

The twins activities with their classmates in sending their cards was also presented in pictures. They came to the post office, bought the stamps themselves and glued it , then sent it to their mom (Two of them were actually presented there in the post office accompanying two teachers, he..he..he...so it was no surprise anymore for me!)

The cards came fast (the same day) made me gave my applause for the post office's readiness in facing the Christmas and New Year's cards traffic.

Looking at the pictures they draw on the cards made me realized how much their daily activities and experiences with their parents coloured their world! Both boys draw an aeroplane (one of it looks more like a spaceshuttle, but the owner said it was an aeroplane that looks like a rocket!) and rains. But the one who was playing with the computer when lightning affected the electricity (and made our computer, fax, printer and scanner out of order), had put a small lightning together with the rain.

So we, parents, are those who will be responsible for the pictures and colour of our childrens' empty book of life! Yes, parents! Not only mom!

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

The President election in South Korea

I was wondering why the result of the presidential election in South Korea was printed in the Indonesian national journals, but no big news about it in OhmyNews International. Perhaps, Rhonda Heuben's article is the answer!

A Christmas Greeting

We are happy as we have the Christmas' eve and the Christmas day in peace. There was a bomb threat, but we did have a wonderful and peaceful Christmas.(see also the article in the daily Jakarta Post "Churches still cautious during Christmas")

There are more happy news as I read a blog (in bahasa Indonesia) and an article in the daily Jakarta Post.

Muhammad Nafik, the writer of the article clearly shown the root of religions according to Islam. It reminded me of a blog post where I put a comment recently. The blog owner was talking in the topic about the Malaysian Catholic should not use the term "Allah" to refer to God.

While searching back where did I put that comment I came across the article by AFP in iht.com, the title is "Malaysian Catholic weekly told to drop use of "Allah" in order to renew publishing permit".

I could not even track back where I've posted my comment. It should be in someone's blog!

In these recent years some friends in Indonesia were reluctant to say Christmas greeting, because they do not want to be considered as rejoicing the born of Jesus Christ. Perhaps they were afraid of being considered His disciples. Personally it hurts, as I am sincerely celebrating Idul Fitri (Eid ul-Fitr) with them.

In my comment I did write that we should see for the root of the religion and the root of the languages and dialects. The Catholic's belief of Trinity will be in our (The Catholic) personal relation to God. But if they really understand the meaning of only One God, then why should they forbid non Muslim in using the word "Allah"?

In Makassarese dialects we called Him "Karaeng Ngata'alla". In Javanese dialect we call Him "Gusti Allah". So forbidding non Muslim using it is a bit ridiculous. Although it is meant only for Malaysian, but there would be time when non Malaysian visit the country or live there as a migrant worker. How would we be prevented from using our mother tongue?

Long time ago my friend in the university told me about the prophets in Islam. It was just like the story I read in the Jakarta Post today (I've just read the yesterday's printed edition, the one I link above). And it was just like the story that my little student told me. "Miss, Muhammad is the last prophet. If you choose Islam as your religion you won't have to change your religion anymore!". So, there is only One God. He, Who sent all the prophets! Why should we differentiate Catholic's God and Islam's God?

In the way we learn our religious life is different. The concept of Trinity is the most difficult aspect of the Christianity. Debates on the term or definition of Trinity has a very long history. Yet, we do believe in One God, the One Almighty God!

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Yang Terlupakan Hari Ini…

The mainstream media (that I read here in Indonesia) did not talk about the International Migrant Day, so I post this one to wikimu. Perhaps I can translate it as "Something forgotten today..."

I have no time to translate this article for my friends who only read English language. But I am happy because the next morning there were a lot of news on migrant worker in the mainstream media.

It was not only because the news of the domestic slavery in America get the final sentence in the court, but they did presented more news about ending the migrant workers abuse.

see also this blog

Selasa, 18-12-2007 15:07:38 oleh: Retty N. Hakim
Kanal: Opini

post 27-12-2007, an update:

I found a reader's letter in the Jakarta Post (26 December 2007) sent by Rahayu Gabrelle from Batam link is here

What are stupid mistakes?

I'd like to link this article from Poynter Online; "We Stand Corrected: When Good Journalists Make Stupid Mistakes"

If the good journalists with English language as their mother tongue can make mistakes, then the Indonesian citizen reporters do have double efforts in entering the global world, first the content, then the language!

Hopefully the situation will be change with the capability of our youngsters in English. Yet, I hope our closer position to English language will not destroy our own national language and our local dialects.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Experience is the best way to know something!

I've promise twice to paste in this letter sent by Jessie Smith as the explanation of the closure of her dream project "Kids Around the World" in Canada. When I received this letter I was not really keen on blogging. I was more attracted to the citizen journalism websites, and I do not really know the function of blogging.

From her experience perhaps we can learn something, it would help us in the process of stepping into our own experiences. Thank you Jessie for sharing this. I put it here as a part of review on the year 2007. Hoping next year we are able to help our children build a better world!


Lessons Learned
An Attempt to Create a Children’s Museum in Vancouver

By Jessie Smith, Founder

The purpose of this document is to share some of the lessons we learned in the process of trying to create a children’s museum in Vancouver. It will be best understood by people who are familiar with story of Kids Around the World Children’s Museum, but a peek at our website will help fill in any blanks for those who have not heard of us: www.kidsaroundtheworld.ca. You may contact Jessie Smith at jessie@shaw.ca if you have any questions.

I believe that these lessons will be helpful for people who are trying to open a children’s museums as well as other types of non-profits. In the end we decided to disband the organization, as the support needed to go forward was not forthcoming. This report reflects on what we feel we did right along the way – and what we could/should have done differently.

The inspiration

When my daughter was 7 months old I was inspired to create a special place in Vancouver where children could learn about the world around us – and ‘the world’ in our city. I also wanted to create a place that offered the very best in early childhood education. I soon learned about the powerful educational tool of children’s museums; shortly after, I founded Kids Around the World Children’s Museum.

First Steps

The first bit of advice I have is this: EVERYTHING WILL TAKE LONGER THAN YOU THINK! If you are considering starting a new organization, you must be very realistic about how long the start-up phase will be, and about your chances of success. Just as many businesses fail, so do non-profits. You have to have the drive and motivation necessary to go forward.

Society/Charity

The first thing we did was form a Society. It’s not hard to do, but there is some paper work involved. It’s important to do this early on as it legitimizes your efforts.

Next we petitioned to become a charity. It is also helpful to do this early on as it can take some time to get charity status – and important so that you can begin to give tax receipts for donations. We got our Member of Parliament to write us a letter of support and I think this helped speed up the process. It only took us a few months once we submitted the paper work, but some organizations wait much longer.

Before registering as both a Society and a Charity it is best to take some time to really think through your Mission first. It’s best not to have to change it later, so try to come up with something compelling but generic enough that you can change your focus a bit over time.

Meeting people

In the first couple of years my main focus was meeting as many influential people as I could. I had over 130 such meetings. I did not ask for money, but rather for advice and letters of support. I gave presentations to groups and took displays to events. These things were important for getting the word out and for garnering support for our project, but I have to say that in the end I was disappointed with the uptake. I had hoped that some influential people would take up our cause in a big way, but no one did. Most everyone loved the idea, but not enough people were willing to lend us a hand to really make it happen.

Business Plan

I spent a great deal of time creating a Business Plan for Kids Around the World. It is important to show that your endeavor will be financially viable and that it has a compelling mission.

In our case my husband and I had the research, writing and number crunching skills to do this on our own. We relied heavily on material from the Association of Children’s Museums for our comparison to other museums. You might need to hire someone or find skilled volunteers to help with this work.

Perhaps I spent too much time on this. I think our Business Plan would have been strengthened by more visual representations of the vision; a picture says a thousand words….

Our Business Plan may be viewed upon request.

The Engine Behind the Machine

On one hand it was very important to have one person (me) fully behind the project. Organizations that do not have one individual to focus on the work, often fail. That said, it was also detrimental that we were not able to develop a larger group of people that could devote significant time to the dream. Our Board of Directors was much more engaged that many Boards are, but the reality is that they all had full time jobs and most of them had young children. We needed some connected retirees or more people without young children to help in a big way.



The Commitment

I think it is important to understand the amount of time and forgone income that is involved in starting a new organization. I worked without income for more than 2800 hours (that is 1.5 year’s worth of work) before I got paid at all. After that I worked for one year at more than full time hours for less than $20,000. We had hoped to have funds to cover at least a low ED salary for 2007, but after the year had already started we were very far from that minimal goal – and even further from being able to cover programming costs.

In my case I was prepared to make this investment of time up front; I felt honoured to have the opportunity to pursue such a dream. By the end though I could no longer afford to do so - both financially and in terms of the time away from my family.

Every organization has its own financial story to tell, but you need to be prepared to work very hard for little or no money in the early years. All told I worked on the project for nearly 4 years (only full time about 1.5 of those years). This does not include all the hard work done by our Board of Directors and numerous volunteers….

Board of Directors

For the first few years the Board consisted of people who were friends of mine – people I knew I could work with and who shared the same values. We all got along very well and had fun together, but as a group we were lacking some skills in terms of running a non-profit.

So, we searched out new Board members that had fundraising and other management experience. This was very helpful in terms of helping us improve our organizational capacity. It also changed the dynamic of the Board.

Tips:

1. In the early days the founding members of the organization should write down the core values of the organization to ensure that any new Board members know what they are getting into (especially in terms of who you will and will not accept money from when it comes to fundraising).

2. Constantly recruit board members; more is better to share the load (but don’t make it too big. The most we had was 8, but 9-11 would have been ideal in our case).

3. Screen your Board members. Do reference checks and work with them for some time before they join the board to ensure you will work well together.

Advisory Committee

We had an Advisory Committee that met a few times a year (as well as addressed questions over email). This was a good way to get input from a wide range of individuals who might not be willing to commit to the work involved in being on a Board.

Promotional Material

We made the smart decision to ensure a professional look right from the start. One of our board members designed our logo. We created an excellent website, letterhead, business cards, and thank you cards. All of these things helped ensure that we came across as a serious organization.

Very early on we set up a quarterly electronic newsletter. People could sign up on our website – and we collected names all the time. I never added anyone without permission (I hate it when people do that to me….).

Every three months I wrote an update to our supporters. I think this was crucial in getting folks involved and excited about our mission.

Organizational Development

We had a lot to learn in terms of running a non-profit. Over time we had to figure out many systems: running board meetings, keeping track of donors, fundraising. There was always something new - such as how to take donations by credit card or how to allow people to donate on-line or how to use Excel. It would have been easier if I’d had more management experience, but often Founders come by this via the passion for the mission and need to learn some specific skills along the way.

You should not underestimate the time it takes to keep on top of the administrative aspect of running an organization. You might prefer to do other more exciting tasks, but writing tax receipts is time-consuming and must be done in a timely manner. We made good progress in terms of improving our organizational capacity, but it is a never-ending journey.

Fundraising

Monthly donors

In the beginning we did not fundraise at all. We knew no one would pay us to write a Business Plan and have meetings; we had to wait until we were doing something.

The first fundraising we did was to solicit monthly donations. This was one area of fundraising that worked well for us. Once you get people set up they are less likely to stop giving; it is easier than asking each year for another donation – and it allows you to budget into the future. The best way is via cheques because credit cards expire.

We set up a ‘Founding Funder’ category (ie a minimum of $25 a month). This was to be only for the first 100 people to give $25 a month and they would get their name on a plaque in the permanent museum. Other monthly donors gave between $5-$20 a month.

We had a year-end prize draw just for monthly donors. It did not inspire people to donate as we had hoped, but it was greatly appreciated by the winners – and made them more loyal to the organization.

In addition to the e-newsletter we wrote the occasional letter just to donors. I think our attention to detail as far as donors goes was very important.

At first my husband and I covered all expenses. Once we had monthly donors we no longer had to pay for things such as office expenses, postage etc.

Fundraising events

We held two fundraising events – neither of which raised much money and they were a lot of work and stress. The second one was better because we focused on monthly donations so that would have paid off in the long run.

That said, these events were good for getting our name out into the community and ‘friend-raising’ amongst our supporters. Just keep in mind that such events are not great for moneymaking – though in time you can develop a signature event that may raise money once it catches on.

A few people held events in their home to help raise money and awareness. This means little work for staff and volunteers and thus they are more worthwhile.

Organizational donations

We applied to get some funding from a range of sources to help get going but it was not until we asked for funds for our Tigers and Dragons exhibit that we were successful; donors want to fund programs not process.

Most of us on the Board did not have a lot of fundraising experience. I read a lot, took some very helpful courses and the whole Board got some excellent training in fundraising. That said, it would have been better to have some people with non-profit fundraising experience involved earlier on in the process.

We sent proposals to a wide range of organizations to be sponsors for our Tigers and Dragons exhibit. As to be expected, most said no. You have to devote a tremendous amount of time to fundraising and be prepared for many refusals. I see now that we were unrealistic about how much money we thought we could raise in the time frame we had.

We hoped that more of our 2006 sponsors would come back to support us in 2007 as they seemed happy with our progress and we worked to develop the relationships. In the end only 3 sponsors said they’d support us in 2007, only one of which was for a (second, smallish) cash donation. This was a huge indication to us that it was going to be very difficult to go forward in 2007.

Building an Exhibit

We knew all along that our plan was to build a traveling exhibit to show the people of Vancouver what Kids Around the World was all about. We decided to create Tigers and Dragons – China and India for Kids.

We were VERY fortunate to have the help of a professional designer, Melanie Greenaway of Double Dare Design. She was fantastic to work with and she was willing to do a bunch of work up front so that we had professional material to present while fundraising. We would have never built the exhibit without her support.

As I mentioned, fundraising for the exhibit was a challenge, but it also took a tremendous amount of time to actually build the exhibit. It was loads of fun, but it entailed hundreds of hours of meetings – which took time away from fundraising and other important tasks.

Running the Exhibit

As we planned to run the exhibit on Granville Island for the summer, we were very pressed for time to get the exhibit built, hire summer staff and promote the exhibit in the community. In the end we took on too much for our level of organizational capacity and staff. We did not heed the lesson another museum Executive Director had put forward: it’s better to do less and do it well than do too much and not as well as it could be done.

From an outsider’s perspective our frenzied pace was probably not noticed, but after that experience I realized that we needed to be more realistic about what we could take on.

Summer on Granville Island

The best part of our summer on Granville Island was that we opened with a fantastic VIP event. The Honourable Iona V. Campagnolo, PC, CM, OBC, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia was gracious enough not only to be a Patron of the exhibit during its tour, but also to give a stirring speech at our VIP Opening. This, I think, inspired a good number of important people to attend – and those that did not attend still received the beautiful invitations we sent out. The whole thing was a marketing coup….

We received fantastic media over the summer – both print and TV. Visitors loved it and we collected wonderful quotes from our comment cards, emails for our e-newsletter, and photos of happy kids. All of these were useful for improving our fundraising material and website.

We did not, however, get as many visitors as we hoped. We had 100-200 a day – less some days. We thought that Granville Island would be a great location, but some folks were keener to play in the water park.

We found that it is hard to get some people to part with their money. Although we had a suggested entry donation of $5 per family, many people gave very little even though they clearly enjoyed it and often stayed for more than one hour.

The fall in Gastown

We found that we were so busy running the summer program that we did not have the proper time to prepare for the fall. But we had promised our sponsors that we would have a fall program, so we had to do it.

We had been looking in Chinatown for a long time for a location for the fall, but it was a huge scramble to find a good, inexpensive spot. In the end we were lucky to find a terrific location in Gastown.

Considering the effort and money involved, the time spent in Gastown in the fall was not worth it. We had CBC ads, Channel M ads, Bus Stop ads all over the city, and flyers. Despite promoting to all schools in the city/region, we had relatively few school visits. All together we had just over 1000 visitors in our 2.5-month fall program – very poor given all the promotion.

Was Tigers and Dragons worth it?

Although Tigers and Dragons allowed us to get tremendous exposure and media, in hindsight I wonder if it was the right thing to do.

We thought that with a great exhibit and all the media we got, running the exhibit would 'take us off' but it did not; do not overestimate what an exhibit can do for you.

We realized just how hard it is to market with a low budget. We also did not garner as many donors or volunteers as we hoped as a result of the run of our exhibit.

It is important to keep in mind the costs of running an exhibit - staff, promotion etc. You'll be overwhelmed by all of that and not have time to think about the bigger museum project....Do not underestimate how much work this will be!

Make sure you have staff that is GOOD AT MARKETING. They need not only be good at working with children, they MUST be adept at promoting the idea of a permanent museum.


If not an exhibit, then what?

It might have been better to create something simpler (ie more program oriented than an exhibit which is hard to move) and take it to events across the city to promote our plans. I am thinking of something fun, interactive, colourful and impressive - more than just a display.

We went to a number of big events last Spring (such as the Vancouver International Children’s Festival) which were great for promotion because thousands of people attended – and we did not have to do the promotion to draw a crowd. It would have been better for us to go to 2-3 big events in the fall than it was to have our exhibit in Gastown. The lesson for us is that it is hard for a new organization to market itself, and events that others organize can be more effective ways to spread the word.

Why We Folded

In the letter that we sent out to our supporters we explained our reasons for folding as follows:

1. Lack of funds: We were running on just over $600 a month. That is not enough to cover even our most basic operating expenses, let alone move us towards a permanent museum.

Cash-flow problems might be surmountable if other things were going well and we could see some hope on the horizon, but that is not the case.

2. Lack of support: Although we have had lots of support from families who love our vision, we have had very little concrete support from the big players who are in a position to move this kind of project to the next level. This is not something you do with small grants and donations - it is a multi-million dollar endeavor that needs powerful people and organizations behind it.

The bigger question of why did people not support such a good idea is harder to answer, but here are some thoughts:

• Some people felt that we were too similar to Science World (the hands-on approach is similar, but the mission is totally different)

• There are many capital campaigns going on in the city that are struggling to move forward; even well-established organizations find it hard to raise money

• We hoped that the 2010 Olympics would help us, but in fact people were too busy working on things to do with the Olympics to take on our idea (even though KAW was a perfect fit)

• People do not know what children’s museums are (and they did not fully understand the early childhood educational benefits of our vision)

What We Would Have Needed to Keep Going

We came a long way in less than four years. In the end we had:

• More than 30 monthly donors and about 50 one-time donors
• 850 people on our newsletter list
• Some influential people showing support (but not opening doors or helping fundraise))
• Improved organizational capacity
• Great exposure in 2006
• Improved promotional material and a great website

What we needed but did not have:

• Money (not a million dollars, but thousands of dollars to keep afloat)
• Serious support from big players (to help open doors and fundraise)
• Connections to people with money
• People power (people with time to really move us forward – successful children’s museums have had more than one person who is committed to working full-time to realize a vision)
• Not only people to give us money, but more people to help raise money
• Larger of numbers visitors to Tigers and Dragons
• Serious leads to a possible building to call home (the only way we could have been considered for any of the possible leads we had was if we raised A LOT of money
• Leads to funding sources that met our ethics (ie our ethical stance made it harder to raise money)

We knew from the start that it would take years to open a permanent museum, but after nearly four years, the gap between what we had and what we needed was just too great. We simply had not received any indication that the project would move forward in a big way.

Wrapping Up

If you decide to wrap things up, keep in mind what I said at the beginning: EVERYTHING TAKES LONGER THAN YOU THINK! There are letters of thanks to send, tax receipts to write, details regarding shutting down a Society/Charity, assets to distribute, offices to be cleared etc.

It is a sad time. It is so hard for me to look around my office and see the evidence of all the hours of work put into this dream. That said, I received dozens and dozens of emails from people who were so appreciative of our efforts. It made the transition easier…

I have no regrets. I learned a lot and met some amazing people along the way. Thousands of kids loved our exhibit and now it will live on in the children’s museum in Winnipeg. We showed Vancouver what a children’s museum could be. We have planted a seed that perhaps some day shall bear fruit.


Jessie Smith
May 2007

Balancing my life

Perhaps I did skip my views on the Bali Road Map, a final script that need longer time than the expected convention's schedule.

As I am here and not in Bali, my mind juggling over the cyber spaces. That made me write the article O...o...Aku Kecanduan... (O...o...I became addicted). I don't have the chance to translate the article into English version yet. Perhaps I should do it soon and send it to OMNI too.

Meanwhile I forgot on sending my writing to places that might give me some money to help financing my internet cost. The addictive feeling came from the instant comments on my articles.

Yet, I do need to make my life into balance again. I think I've been taking this citizen reporter thing too seriously. My weakness as someone seeking perfection! That was the main reason why I chose being at home, the fear that I would make my job on the top priorities in my daily life. To reach to the top you'll need that kind of hard struggling and time consuming concentration on your work. To make it work with my husband's schedules I need to be a full time mom.

I tried hard to get away from the cyber space for a while, but the Asian Idol tempting me to comment again...

The first Asian Idol, it is an important path for a lot of youngsters in Asia to leap out of their countries and be the ambassador of their countries' music. I remember how I fell in love with some Philippines' songs in the old era of music competition. But that kind of competition is not always producing a popular singer, good talented singers but not all could reach the top as diva! It needs both talents and popularity in the market. And that is what the Idol contest has offered.

This year I came across some beautiful songs from the Republic of Philippines, Vietnam, and India...(Malaysia and Singapore were also introducing some songs but the music are familiar so I do not comment on their songs as something new for me...)

I've also browsing on some blogs, seeking for the grassroots' comments on the victory of the idol from Singapore Hady Mirza and found out some interesting stories.

It would be hard to take my feet back from the cyberworld as a Citizen Reporter because my mind automatically popping out ideas that bother my inner thought! The most possible action is to make balancing steps and keep reminding myself on why I write for the CJ website...to help building the world in my own capacity!

And the first Asian Idol is…

Senin, 17-12-2007 00:02:53 oleh: Retty N. Hakim
Kanal: Peristiwa

The article was written in bahasa Indonesia, below is an addition of how I wrote that article and what lesson I gained from that article (Retty, 27-12-2007).

And the first Asian Idol is ... Hady Mirza from Singapore!
When Ata announced the winner, the feeling of disbelief struck me and perhaps most of Indonesians.

Actually I didn't want to write this article. It was midnight, I was really sleepy and my boys were still around. Yet, it is something that should be written. My friend called me with the same disbelief. She was accusing the Singaporeans play with their money. I was more convinced with the "second choice" theory. Perhaps people were voting for the smallest country's contestant. No, said another friend, Vietnam should be more visible as the second choice...they have less financial support than Singapore. But for teen age girls Hady Mirza would be a better choice than Phuong Vy!

As my friend asked me to write this one, I wrote this piece. Trying my best to be objective. Actually there was another person who wrote about the same event. He wrote the result of the Asian Idol contest, and his article came in first.

My article was also published. The same content perhaps, but mine is added with my personal views. I could see how competitive the internet news is! While I had to write and put my boys to bed at the same moment, another writer had the chance to upload his article.

Later, the work on this piece of article made me more interested in this Idol contests. Yes, being a reporter made your interest wider and made you interested in digging more and more into it!

Menantikan Asian Idol Pertama

Minggu, 16-12-2007 06:32:13 oleh: Retty N. Hakim
Kanal: Peristiwa

upadte comment below is not the translation of the article that was written in Bahasa Indonesia, it is the completion of my views outside the article.(Retty, 27-12-2007)

Waiting for the First Asian Idol.

I wrote this article after the first Asian Idol Show aired in the television. I was not a great fan of Idols. But I was curious on other contestants. I'd like to know more about others' culture. Each idol performed their own local songs. I used to learn about others' songs from the singing contest performance I saw when I was a young girl. I was familiarized with songs from the Philippines back then.

Seeing their performance I was once again engaged in admiration to others' culture. I can hear Mau Marcelo's Philippines song, Phuong Vy's Vietnamese song, and Abhijeet Sawant's Indians song. The way Abhijeet sang Junoon made me really interested in that song!

I commented on their performance. I also commented on Hady Mirza. I said that he reminded me of Delon, the other Indonesian candidate for this Asian Idol. Delon had a long story. He was not the first session winner, he gained it after Joy Tobing resigned from the title as she would like to have her own management. When Indonesians were asked to choose between four idols from four sessions of the Indonesian Idols, I was hesitated between Delon and Mike.

Mike Mohede had the voice, but Delon had the popularity. Forwarding Delon as an Indonesian Idol to the contest perhaps will help us gain votes from other countries. Young girls will vote for him. But, we do need to be proud of gaining this contest from musical talent, not only from physical performance.

Saw the competitors in the show made me thankful that Indonesia had wisely chosen Mike as our representative.

O...O...Aku Kecanduan...

Rabu, 12-12-2007 13:27:54 oleh: Retty N. Hakim
Kanal: Opini

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Introducing my fellow bloggers.

In this post I’d like to introduce you to my fellow bloggers. Not all of them write in English but I do like to peek into their blogs and share my comments. Sometimes we share the same perspectives; sometimes we are not an ally in viewing a topic.

Mimbar Saputro is the first blogger that catch my attention after I became a citizen reporter in wikimu.com. Mimbar Saputro’s weblog is his new blog’s name after he transferred into wordpress. Aku ini Binatang Karang” in Blogger is his previous blog. The name sounded so Chairil Anwar. If Anwar said “Aku ini Binatang Jalang” (sorry I lost the translator in me this moment) he said “Aku ini Binatang Karang”. So instead of the wild expression in the word “jalang”, he changed it into the tough expression of the coral. His comments and articles in wikimu supported the reinvention of the writer in me.

Then there is the bilingual blog Serenidee from JJS. He saw my article in Ohmynews International and asked my permission to link the article in his blog. He was also asking about my name, a crucial part of me that I kept in my heart. Explaining it in a blog post was like opening my heart to accept my own identity. He is very kind and helpful. But my other reason to keep visiting his blog is the French language! Yes, I do need to refresh my French language. I am also really keen to have such kind of bilingual blog, but I am too lazy to translate all my articles. Let the articles addressed to the Indonesian through wikimu in bahasa Indonesia, I’m giving the reason or the short introduction in English in this blog. Then the English will stay in English with the short introduction, or the copy and paste. Clicking on the title will always take you to the citizen journalism websites where my articles appeared.

I put wikimu.com and Ohmynews International as my fellow bloggers as they are providing spaces to all those citizen reporters who might not have their own blogs.

Although the name Internet Nomad seems nicer to me, Claire George found out that she share the name with somebody else so she change her blog's name into Larkspurious, a name of a flower that was (at first) not easily pronounced by my tongue. She was an editor in Ohmynews International who used to help editing my article. Claire and Todd Thacker are two important persons that take me out from being “blind”. They pointed out things that could be misinterpreted, or things that are too shallow, and off course teach me something new like chatting (ha..ha…ha…you’ve got me! I’ve never chat before nor do I knew how to make those smiley appears in chatting). Editor plus!

Claire’s new blog has a lot of information about journalism so I keep coming back to that blog. I remember one of Claire’s article in OMNI about blogging that can make you like a robot, and I did mention it when I wrote the article for wikimu “O…o … I became addicted”. Perhaps I should print her article and put it near my computer to remember to keep me more human than being a slave of the cyber world.

My local editors in Wikimu are also very nice. But their workloads are abundant, and I do not always know who is going to edit my article. In most of the time I upload the article without asking their comments. In some cases I do e-mail Bayu Wardhana, one of the editors, to help me edit my work, sharpened it or focus my views in my article. I always bother Melani Laksmono in pictures’ editing. Perhaps someday I’ll ask the other editors to help editing my article (if I have the courage to bother their precious time).

I do not link any of my wikimu editors’ blog here, but I do have another wikimu’s contributor linked here. Satrio Arismunandar is one of the founders of Aliansi Jurnalistik Indonesia, his articles in wikimu.com usually gave the citizen reporters more knowledge on journalism. I put both of his blogs (one that I freely translated into an eagle in sky of loneliness, and the other one is freely translated a blog dedicated to other eagles and true wanderer) as he blogs mostly about his journey and experiences as an active senior journalist. He is working in the television media right now.

Rudy Sianturi is my fellow citizen reporter in Ohmynews International. After my articles were published in OMNI, there were several e-mails came in asking me how to register into OMNI. Rudy is one of them, as he found it difficult to register. Actually he had the same problem I’ve got before. We did not understand Korean characters so we guessed which one is to submit our registration. Then we’ve got to wait for another day to get the confirmation. It is very different with the instant registration in local websites (but not for Panyingkul!, they answered it after quite a long time). Rudy was the only one (from those incoming e-mails) that I found later in OMNI. We e-mailed each other sometimes, sharing views and encourage each other. But mostly all I have to do is peeking into his Living Poem and give my comment on his postings.

Rudy's wife Dinah is also a contributor in OMNI, we share quite the same interest on art and migrant worker. Unfortunately his wife doesn’t like blogging, so I do need to watch over OMNI to know her views.

My blog was found by Oni Suryaman after I wrote about the book launching that he moderates. I found his blog interesting and link both of his blogs(A New Future is Possible, and hisCurrent Thought which is in bahasa Indonesia)in my blog. Kris Mariana is Oni’s friend. She is an editor in a publication. Her blog is mostly about her daily life and thought. I like peeking into her blog so I just link it here as my source of news. Perhaps I enjoy their youthful spirits and idealism; that is why I get my blog connected to theirs. (Perhaps in the term of youthful spirit I should link Ukirsari's blog too, she is another contributor for wikimu that always fascinated me with her traveling stories).

Recently I found another Indonesian blogger through Ohmynews International. She is not a contributor, but her name is mention in Jay Heuben’s article. This is the first time I heard that name, and it does make me curious. Googling through the internet I found her blogs. And I was fascinated to see her talented drawings. As an architect I was not blessed with such a talent in freehand drawing. Then I ventured into her blogs. It is really fun, full of the youthful spirit but also with the clumsy (perhaps it’s more to forgetful) stories that I used to hear related to a “professor”. She had her PHD degree and an astounding CV, but her blog is really catching the beauty of daily citizen’s life. She was active enough in Indonesia, but it seems that I just missed her name from the papers I’ve read.

Mer is kind and responsive. After reading a post about how people did not recognized her as Indonesian, I asked her the question about her name Lim (quite a typical of Indonesian racist question, “Do you have Chinese blood?”) , she pointed out her post on her name. So there are various reasons behind a family name!

I became interested in her also because of one topic that was raised in wikimu.com. An article about the (probably) youngest professor in America who came from Indonesia, Nelson Tansu. Some readers were asking about his nationalism. It is obvious that Indonesia has not value its scientist yet. We do not have enough money to finance the research they need to keep them updated. Do we have to ask about nationalism in term of racial prejudice? Do they ask the same questions to the indigenous Indonesian who prefer to stay and gain more working experience abroad?

I did add Pesta Blogger in my link, but I do not know whether they are going to continue reviewing Indonesian bloggers in their blog after the first Indonesian bloggers meeting. I do hope they will keep on updating bloggers’ community and news. We do have Wicaksono’s column on Indonesian bloggers every Friday in the daily Koran Tempo that can also be accessed online. I think the synergy between mainstream media and the citizen journalism outlet will have their sweet fruits. But we do need to remember the idealism of being a citizen reporter (see my other short views in here).
Perhaps there will be more links in the future, and I do hope that it would help me to become more focus in presenting news for the better world.

Friday, 14 December 2007

What's up in Bali?

My mind is still lingering in Bali. What is happening there? Are they closing this convention with good progress?

The USA delegation is still making it hard to move forward, at least that's the news in the local media.

I've been looking to recent news from the blog It's getting Hot in here as I knew they have their delegates watched over the convention. I could not get much about the REDD schema.

I'm curious about this REDD as I knew that we do need the finance and the technology to be able to cope and adapted to the forestry problem. We need to improve our economy and it will be depending on our forests (next year we'll also be venturing our maritime natural heritage for Visit Indonesian Year 2008). Yet, we do need to preserve our forests and its biodiversity (and the sea with its rich biodiversity). The climate change is obviously harmful for an archipelago like us (with almost all the population depend on rice as their main staple food).

I'll keep looking to this website to know more about the carbon trade. From the local NGO I'll keep looking on WALHI, WWF Indonesia, and OXFAM Indonesia.

News will be better presented if it is a first hand report, but researching on news sources that are credible is also important. After we have a deeper knowledge on the topic it would be easier to grab all the news and comments that come in. As a citizen reporter I think it is more important to think as a citizen. I'm not the scientist, I'm not the politician (who will follow their leader's opinion), I'm not even a member of an environmental NGO, but I am the citizen who will get a higher price of petrol, cooking oil, etc...all the aspects that would affect our daily lives. Then the economical impact will also take over our chances to educate our children and give them the quality time they need (as we are going to be forced to work harder and harder for our daily breads).

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Citizen Journalism Echoes Everywhere

After the bloggers' party it seems that citizen journalism suddenly got a lot of attention here. Yesterday I heard in the radio an advertisement from the daily Republika that they will publish citizen's stories. Everybody in that short advertisement claimed themselves as citizen reporters. Yes, every citizen is a reporter. Hope that the cloud would not change as fast as it appeared!

Kompas Cyber Media had earlier changed its interactive column into Citizen Journalism's tag. I hope that we are not taken away by all these supportive actions and forget the idealism of the real citizen journalism intention.

An article by Lily Yulianti in OMNI is worth reading. But I've got to disagree on the term of first hand reports excluding the action summarizing mainstream media reports. I think it is also a good thing to have others' commented (give their personal opinion) on the media report. We have thousands of printed medias or publications, we can't have the access to all of these medias and publications. Having citizen reporters commenting on it would help us to drive our attention to that media or publication and its content. So we could also be the watchdog of the mainstream media!

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Green green grass at home...


Are you a woman? Let's grow at least one tree...
Why women? Are we important enough?
Perhaps we can teach our children to love the environment....









"Are you mocking at me?,"asked the Junction,"I knew that you prefer the green open space I was before!"

"Just don't forget that I've got a free hotspot here...come and write your article in the cool environment inside my new spaces, and your children can play without bothering you!"

Me: "It's hard to live in the urban area..."

Kebebasan, Kepercayaan, dan Pasangan Hidup.

Freedom, Trust, and a Soul Mate.

The inspiration to write this one came after lots of wikimu readers asking a contributor about the software to detect the whereabout of their partners through the cellphones.

One female reader asked the writer to give her the name of those whose asking for the software, she said that if she found her boy friend's name she will end her relation.

That was not really a serious note, she made it probably for fun...either indicating she has a lot of boy friends (she is single) or because she doesn't like being with a man who doesn't trust her.I prefer the second possibility.

At the same time one contributor is celebrating the marriage of his daughter. I was invited but I could not come. My twin sons were invited to their best friend birthday party. Actually I planned to go to the wedding party with some friends from wikimu, but this other obligation seemed more important. I've been quite neglecting them lately due to my internet activities, and also because half of my attention lately was in the UNFCCC convention in Bali.

So combining the inspiration and the intention to make it as a gift for the couple, I wrote this piece about freedom, trust and a soul mate.

When you do not have trust in your couple then it would not be a good relation. We do need trust to confide ourselves into a commitment. Without that it would be nonsense!
In Indonesia we can see people who get married only for a couple of weeks, or months, and then got divorce. There were also old couples who were married for tens of years and surprisingly separated themselves. Ironically sometimes the seed of the problem came from not trusting the partner because what other people said (or even what their soothsayer had said). Off course there are a lot of temptation in this global and fast changing world, but we can be wiser and more tough if we let God walk with us. Ask Him to lead our way, ask Him to help our partner's walk in the right direction. We pray for our partner so that he/she will not fail into temptations.

I think I wrote more than this one paragraph, but I think I have this one paragraph resume the most important message. (Perhaps I'll continue this post after reading comments).

Perlu Kacamata Baru (Intermezzo)

In the need of a new pair of glasses. Sometimes the mainstream media made mistakes. It can be a small mistake like a bad color separation, or a bigger mistake as mixing two events in a photo caption.

Kompas made me dizzy with its bad performance on the colored pictures. While Suara Pembaruan made a scramble news between the gunfire in Omaha and the one in Salt Lake City (last February) in its photo caption. Actually there is another mistakes about the number of person killed (9 or 8), but that is not as crucial as the photo caption. Sometimes when we read a newspaper we skipped the article and read only the photo caption. When the photo caption wrote that the gunman from Bosnia was shoot by the police, it could gave various reactions. When I read about Bosnia I wonder why..., what happened...But other people who read the incident in the Salt Lake City will have another impression...again? what's wrong with the Bosnian in the USA?

This is only a reader's opinion, hoping that the mainstream media beware of their services. On the other hand it is also a warning to other readers to be more critical in reading news.

Autisme Bukan Penghalang Keberhasilan.

Autism (and other spectrum like ADHD)is not the barrier to reach a successful life. Einstein and Thomas Alva Edison proved that. Harry Dharsono, a famous Indonesian designer showed his work Naive in the exhibition M├ętissages and explained that this work was his training to come out from the Autism and ADHD barrier.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Some notes on UNFCCC Bali Convention

Emil Salim, the former Indonesian minister of the Environment are not welcomed by the Civil Society Forum (CSF) in their village in Bali. Then there was an incident where unknown shouter shouting “comprador” at him. Tejo Wahyu Jatmiko, the spoke person of CSF apologized through a media conference.

I don’t know why they shouted at him. Although he is the leader of the Indonesian delegation (with the carbon trade proposal) he is not deserved that kind of attitude. I do not know him personally. I met him in the university long time ago when he was still a minister. He came to the university to plant a tree. Perhaps it was ceremonial, but it was the opening of our university’s pilot project on KKN (Kuliah Kerja Nyata) to help the poor in the urban area. It was a volunteer project and I joined the group. Emil Salim explained the basic of knowledge, and he mentioned the need to harmonize the scientific approach with the socio-cultural approach and the economic approach. Hopefully I did not make a wrong mind mapping (it was seventeen years ago)…but I believed that he does not loose his knowledge and his wisdom by being older. Actually he made me more interested in the environmental issues.

I was a bit startled that he envoys the REDD proposal, but I do belief in his integrity towards Indonesia. I actually asked Erna Witoelar, the UN’s Special Ambassador for the Millenium Development Goals in Asia and the Pacific, more about REDD when we’ve met in the architecture seminar. I intended to write something on it for OMNI. She explained that we should not see the incentive first. We should see how the developing countries have got their incentives from exploiting their environments. It is now our obligation to help the earth. The responsibility should be shared globally. The developed countries had succeeded and they have the money, knowledge and technology to help the developing countries to cope and adapt to save the earth without loosing their economic source to grow their nations.

The explanation was making sense, yet something still bother me. I wonder about the people, those who will really be affected to those policies. That is why my article for OMNI did not touch any word from her. I knew I’m not the expert on this subject, so I should become a real journalist in providing news (mmm...still learning). My personal opinion comes in the questions I asked as I represented the citizen.

I’d like to write more on this issue as this is something proposed through the Indonesian delegation. At the same time I should be more careful as I do not really have the chance to cover the story on the spot. It made an awful impact on my daily life, so perhaps this time I should stay as a blogger…not as a citizen reporter. Being a writer is really different from being a reporter. As a contributor writer I can choose something really close to my own views, but as a good reporter I should try my best to cover something important that perhaps I do not really understand yet.



More readings in Bahasa Indonesia for REDD from the Antara News Agency:
http://www.antara.co.id/redd/
http://www.antara.co.id/redd/news/?id=1196167297

Polar Bears on the Isle of Gods

I’m sitting here in my eldest son’s room.
My computer is waiting for me to work on something together.
Outside the room my sons are screaming, fighting over their PS 2 game.
A lot of opinions dancing inside my mind, it’s hard to concentrate on writing.
Inputs are coming in, the outside noise are disturbing…
Yet my wandering thoughts are more provoking…

A roommate in Seoul told me what a newsroom is…
So I am sitting here, in my own newsroom.
Imagine a hectic room of open space cubicles...
Where activities taken place…
My reporter desk is a lonely corner in the cyber space…

Half of my spirit was actually in Bali,
But my body is here looking at the pictures of the polar bears on the isle of Gods.
Puzzling my head over news that flows in…
Yesterday it said A, today B, tomorrow could be C…
Are they progressing?
Are they really struggling for the benefit of the majority who lives on the earth?

My small brain is exploding…
Tearing me between the love for our environment and the need of our stomach…
Policies and politic are usually best friend…
Leaving us here puzzled on how to survive our own world.
Perhaps if I am there I won’t be puzzled
All I need to do is sitting on the beach and watch the sun goes down
(Liar…I’ll be inside those aircon convention rooms, taking notes…)
Or, joining the crowds in their open air activities
(Hoping that I fully understand what are their demands…)
Perhaps the most imaginable thing is taking my picture with those polar bears…
(It’s more likely…and after that? business as usual?)


P.S. Sorry for being a bit skeptical! (Not on the polar bears who asks the delegates to save human, but on the real actions that might come out...c'mon be more positive!)

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

On Younger Generation

Sometimes I envy younger generation. They've got more chances to develop themselves, they are more adapted to the technology. For the engineer, the autocad help them draw their 3D presentation faster and easier. The global world is also opening their doors to get more chances, either in scholarship or in international competition. Before, we depend on mainstream media. So we need to rely only on the media we read, see, or hear. Sometimes they published the information a bit too late. Now the information is only a click away...

I read this article about youngsters writing novels. That's great, they've got tutorial from early stage of life...imagine how would they be ten years from now?

The citizen journalism website is also amazing...wikimu now has its special place for high school students to write. So they'll be able to really learn how to write earlier. Their talents can be polished, and they'll be more ready to know their real interest in life.

There are some novels published by senior high students after they posted it in their blogs. It seems that their way are made easier.

Perhaps I forgot that all these progress of life is also come with all the new burden of learning. I can see that my son's subjects in the elementary school are not the kind of knowledge I learned in my elementary school before.

The economic burden is heavier. I had never really felt that my parents were in financial debt as they are clever enough not to tell us. Now? I should tell my boys that we do not have the capability to finance all their wishes, that we have to arrange our money and spend it carefully. When my brother started selling sticker labels and T-shirt, it was because he had fun. He had the entrepreneurship spirit in him. Now children at school are forbidden to do trading as some of them are already involved in multi level marketing or other product marketing. A friend who works as an administrative officer (in the school that I used to work for) has a boy. His Indonesian language teacher asked the first grader to write a daily journal to help them writing. What the boy wrote touched me. He wrote:"After school I have to work in the school before I go home". He was not working. His dad passed away so her mom is a single parent. There are only her and the only son. So it would be easier for her to keep him at school after the school hours until she finished her work. He felt that he is working too. So children become adult sooner than my generation. Hope they become more clever too, they will need it to survive!

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Global Warming: Turning Awareness Into Action

Tantangan Bagi Arsitek Indonesia: Mengatasi Perubahan Iklim dan Pemanasan Global.

Kidzania Tempat Bermain dan Belajar

The title from my article for wikimu.com means "Kidzania, a place to play and to learn".

It was along time ago that I proposed an idea of a children playground which mixed the interactive play with the children museum. It should have both interior and exterior activities. It would make the children invent the knowledge about culture, geography, or profession by experiencing it. The idea was commented as too expensive but would not bring any profit.

A continent away, in Canada, Jessie Smith had the dream to make her interactive children museum. A museum that will help children to know other cultures and in the long run will help make a better understanding. Children as the future leader with a deeper empathy towards other cultures will help build a better world.

Though she was having huge supports from her friends and among citizens in her city, the plan to make Kids Around the World as a special children museum should be canceled. Not enough political support and financial sponsors. (I'll post her letter in another post).

So, when I first heard about Kidzania I was curious. How would they make it? Who will finance it?

I forgot about it until I saw a posting in Unspun's blog. A press realese for the opening of Kidzania. Unspun commented about the possibility of making our children be more consumerism and branded oriented. The brand names could be planted unconsciously into the children's memory. Kidzania is place that would introduce children to the various vocation they might have in the future. They can act out as a photographer or as a model. They can also have their own ATM card and driver license. There lots more of opportunities to try there.

Luckily my eldest son got the chance to visit the place with his classmates. So I can interview him to know the effect on him. He was crazy about the place, that's for sure...(this is a kind of consumerism I found, because he doesn't want to think about the cost to enter that place).

Yet, I think we as parents are more responsible in penetrating branded names into our children's minds than this place would.

I can tell that he learn something there. The article is more about what I found from his experience and then the comments came as more input for this place. As an architect the most difficult thing to grab is to meet our design with our clients' need. I think in business it is also the same. So more input will be better for the future development.

I knew this is an expensive playground. My eldest son would not have his dream visits as often as he wishes. But I do think it is important to have investors care about children education even in an expensive way of presenting it.

I do want children with less financial support to be able to visit it too, but I am also uncertain of the impact on them. Will they be more serious in arranging their future (as study harder, or even work harder for those street children who already work) or they'll be more upset on their chance and destiny?!

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Climate changes and our actions

I read in the PoinT today on its Views section an article titled “RI’s peatlands: A little-known culprit in climate change”. Searching through google I can’t find this article which was written by Aubrey Belford, instead I found two articles from Yahoo news. One on forest trade, and the other one is about climate defore.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference is approaching. Indonesia should be able to present their political views and action plans to keep its power as the world’s lung.
Everybody seemed to be busy talking about climate change. With the recently cyclone in Bangladesh, floods in the cities, the necessity to help mother earth from ageing is very urgent. In Jakarta we were also warned about the possibility of hails and stormy rains (we experienced it several time in several places before).

I am interested in attending the seminar about “The Role of Architect in Response to Climate Change”. It was already an interesting subject for me before, not really about the climate change but mostly about the architecture in the tropical country. How we can make the most out of our environment potential in designing a man made environment.

Long time ago I worked for WWF for a short time in TNKS, Sumatra. As a newly graduate architect it was difficult for me to cope with the idea of eco-rural tourism as I knew that open a part of it as a tourism object could lure irresponsible investors to come as well. Perhaps the other member of the team could not understand me because in their vision an architect’s job is planning and building. Balancing between the economical needs and the environmental needs are difficult. My parents and my boy friend (my husband now) were not approving my choice to work in the forest. It was ridiculous (perhaps) in their eyes to see a girl graduated as an architect to work inside the forest.

I hope this kind of problems will also be discussed in the conference in Bali. We are now stressing on Marine Tourism. The sea is also a part of carbon reduction, so we need to be really careful on exploiting it. Yet, our beautiful seas are also challenging experiences for divers from all over the world. Those who would like to have a sustainable business will think over the sustainable environment. But I fear those investors who will only think about short time profits and then move on investing somewhere else.

There is also another interesting seminar “Langkah Kecilku Untuk Masa Depan Bumi” (my small step for the future of the earth). I am interested because they are forwarding two speakers that I knew: Prof. Dr. Sarlito Wirawan (a psychologist), and Dr. Ir. Bian Poen (an expert in urban planning with environmental concerns). I knew Pak Bian Poen more personally as I had the chance to help one of his researches. (Reminded me of Pak Parsudi Suparlan, an anthropologist who just passed away. I also admire his work. As someone who graduated from a private university I was lucky to be able to know pak Bian Poen and pak Parsudi in the field. They were lecturer for the University of Indonesia). Pak Sarlito I knew from seminars and I like his objectiveness and his great knowledge. Unfortunately it would be in the same time as the seminar on architect in response to the climate change. I also have another problem which is about my children arrangements. So, let it flow…

Friday, 23 November 2007

Namaku, Bahasaku, Internetku

This article is to introduce ICANN (Internet Coorporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). It was quite some time that I've been introduced to this coorporation through a friend from the internet. Being a technophobic it was really hard for me to compose an objective article. So I decided to write the shortest introduction with all the link to introduce the website. I also hope that there will be a reader who is capable to join in this activity perhaps through the fellowship as the starting point.

The title of this article can be translated into one of ICANN's project "My Name, My Language, My Internet". Personally I was really interested in the possibility to have others read our posts without the bridge blog. It will really be saving a lot of time and be more effective to have this kind of internet translation. So we can read Indonesian wikipedia in English, or in Chinese, or in Korean...small world! Off course that would really be a big leap of technology!

Translating is a difficult task, we do not just translate literally but we also need to know the culture.In the compilation of papers presented in the FIT5th Asian Translators Forum in Bogor (April 2007) there are some papers underlining the importance of cultural context in translation.

Chuichi Kamei from Japan underlined "the Domesticating and Foreignizing Approaches in Japanese-English Translation", while He Sanning from China also added the term Neutralizing approach as the third approach in the context of translating for tourist texts. In another paper presented by Wang Yinquan it was explained "Why Beijing Olympics Mascots should be Named Fuwa instead of Friendlies". Language translation is not merely about translating characters and numbers.

So, that will be a great task! A great effort is needed to make "My Name, My Language, My Internet" comes true.

On the other hand, as a citizen from a developing country (hopefully we can achieved the status "developed country" some day) I also fear that all the development of technology will be costly and it would be an additional cost for us the internet users. Even to get into the cyber world is already a struggle for the grassroot of Indonesian people, to think about additional cost is a bit discouraging...

However, it is important to have an Indonesian in that kind of projects at least for adding our voice in the global voice.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Why I Prefer Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk than Saman

A new friend from Shelfari asked me about the book “Saman” from Ayu Utami. What do I think about that book? Wow, I read that book long time ago…1998. As I need to peek back to my diary I thought I do need time to answer that. But temporarily I did answer that I prefer A. Tohari’s book “Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk”. Why?

Actually when I read Saman nine years ago, I compared it to the book of Father Mangunwijaya “Burung-burung Manyar”. I like Ida Ayu Utami’s popular daily language. I wrote in my diary that her way of writing it is just the way I write my diary. That’s perhaps why I like Saman. I read it in less than six hours (meaning six hours with other activities) so perhaps I do need more time to chew it up before making any comment. Yet, I won’t have much time to reread the book. I even forgot if I have read the sequel “Larung” or not (I think I do have the book somewhere in my bookshelves).

There were some notes in my old diary about Saman. First, I was impressed by her research. I was a bit confused by her way of narrating that sometimes travel in the time space, and I thought that the case Marsinah was not in 1993. I checked this one out and was surprised to get that the case was already five years away (that time). Now we are still facing new problem like Munir…how we never grew up!

Then, I underline Saman’s words “Money has its power”. Yes, without the power of money, Saman will get stuck (or even death). Only with the network and money from Yasmin and Cok that Saman reached New York.

Being only a fragment of a novel, the content touched a lot of problems that were hot during that time. It covered subjects from the NGO’s activity and rebellion, the anti Chinese sentiment, to the corruption, collusion, and nepotism.
Reading Saman also opened my eyes (who was very Catholic that I kept myself virgin to my wedding day) about the possibility of the general condition of free sex or other misbehavior in youngsters' lives. Ayu was one or two years after me in the senior high school. I remembered this eccentric girl from the language class. Now, we are facing the existence of porn video produced by and for the high school students here. This is a new reality in Indonesia. We need to stop this kind of globalization coming into this country. Yet, I’m not the supporter of the ratification of anti-pornographic law. I think we do have good law on censorship, the problem is in the implementation. Should we censor all the traditional clothes or the mini skirts? I think man should first educate their mind than trying to change girl’s way of clothing! (But, I am a conservative type in clothing…he..he…he…)

A blogger has also commented on Saman (I thought she is a Moslem Malaysian), and talked a bit about Ayu’s religious back ground. I do not think that Catholic is more permissive to this kind of conduct. I think what Ayu meant is that sex should never be a taboo as the example from the Bible. Human became aware of their sexuality after they conduct their first sin, their act that disobeyed the Lord’s command.

May be this is how Saman is different with Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk. The way Ayu wrote her story (perhaps) made people think that it is normal to have that kind of life. While Srintil tried hard to evade her fate as a Ronggeng. Yet bad luck can sometimes be an eternal friend especially for those poor and marginal people.

Actually I was waiting for a serial like Saman from Leila S. Chudori. She was my favorite writer and I missed her fiction after her study in Canada. She came back and became a brilliant journalist, but I missed her fiction stories. She was always good in describing psychological problem and human character. She recently produced a TV serial “Dunia Tanpa Koma” (“The World Without a Comma”). I like the story (I’ve got to admit I did not see the whole series…TV serial is not my kind of leisure activity) but it seemed to be running very slow. As a bookworm I prefer to read the book (if any) than seeing that film. I can imagine Raya or her boyfriends as I wished, and I can imagine their gestures and body languages better than being given in an obvious but slow screening.

I am glad that Tony gave me this question because I can write some notes here. And I am also getting more information in preparing this post. I never know that there is an uncensored novel of Ronggeng Dukuh Paruk (published since 2003). So I’ll search for the new version or the English version published by the Lontar Foundation.

More references:
http://www.ruangbaca.com/ruangbaca/?doky=MjAwNg==&dokm=MDU=&dokd=Mjg=&dig=YXJjaGl2ZXM=&on=Q1JT&uniq=Mjcy
http://endonesa.net/articles.php?id=5&page=4
http://www.figurpublik.com/cetak/apresiasi/showapre.php?id=2
http://anggarulianto.multiply.com/journal/item/2/DUNIA_TANPA_KOMA_DTK_MISI_ATAU_MIMPI
http://www.culturebase.net/artist.php?478
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1302806.The_Dancer

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Just a personal diary

I had a high fever and got bones-ache after the three days of busy days with JTS 2007. I was not participating in day one (welcome dinner) as one of my twin already got a fever. I accompanied him to the doctor that evening and the next day it was my father who came to take care of the twins. I enjoyed riding the shuttle bus, a feeder to busway.

Actually I’ve got a lot to write for my blog as I composed it in my mind during the bus ride to Hotel Borobudur. The next day I’ve got to drive myself as I was late already. I uploaded an article for OMNI, then I took the twins to my parents’ house before circling a bit around (loosing my way) to the hotel as I avoided the three in one streets.

Having my own car, I was free enough to wander around after the closure of the summit. I went to The National Galery afterward. This kind of freedom might be impossible for me if I depend on public transportation. Waiting for the bus (it is better for shuttle as I do have schedules as the measurement of time, although it will always be late more than 15 minutes). My car gave me more time and more flexibility to reach two or more destinations in a day journey.

The whole family got sick then...after the twins are me and my eldest son. Then my husband is not feeling well too. Weather's problem...

I’ve produced another article on JTS for wikimu.com, but I have not enough time to write my personal blog on JTS and my thoughts on Jakarta. I am not really well yet…hopefully soon I’ll be fully back in the cyber world!

Berita Bahagia

Happy News...

I'll translate it later...:)

Belajar dari Jakarta Tourism Summit 2007

From the Jakarta Tourism Summit 2007 we can learn a lot of things. From the press conference (My first press conference :)) to how the media provide spaces for this international event. Economy or other industrial summits seems more important to cover than tourism, while we could actually earn a lot from tourism. While as a host it is also important to show that we do value all the good deed offered by the sister cities, especially for those who seemed very serious in preparing their visit here.

This article is in bahasa Indonesia (you will be linked to the article by clicking the title above). It is also talking about other aspects that I found interesting such as the urban and environment issue was given by a lecturer of a school of tourism (I regret missed this part)and those students from local school of tourism was totally blank about what it is. They are vocational school and they are only learning about service but not the planning and their role (tourism sector) in making suggestion for urban planning. Coordination between subjects is something that we, Indonesians, should learn. The other thing is about gambling and night life, how it can increase the revenue but also a reminder that it can also be the poison for the younger generation of the country. Government has to choose and stick to it.

I do not really remember all written there (oups I wrote that I do not like to live in Jakarta because of the traffic jam, in the comment I corrected the sentence I do like to live in Southern Jakarta but I could not afford it.) Some of it share the similar content of what I wrote for OMNI, only that I used different pictures.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Sister Cities and 21st Century Travel

Pesta Blogger: Pesta Usai, Kenangan Tersimpan di Hati

Another article about Pesta Blogger. The party is over, memories will be kept in hearts!

Reviewing some memories from the party. The content is a mixed between my earlier post in English and some additional comments I made on others' posts about the party.

I recently read two articles published in daily Kompas and in daily Seputar Indonesia.
The article in Kompas raised up a good question that I did not think before. The writer commented that usually a national day should be through presidential decree. She mentioned slightly over the minister claiming it as a blogger day on the basis of his being overwhelming by enthusiastic crowd of the party. So, can we really say that we are having a national blogger day?

Wimar Witoelar wrote in Sindo (Seputar Indonesia) November 8, 2007, "Apakag Blog Berpengaruh pada Pemilihan Presiden?" The growing number of bloggers are amazing and is it possible that the next presidential election will be affected by the voices of bloggers?

PS: It is difficult to search the link to Kompas cetak, so I inserted the link from Forum Pembaca Kompas (Kompas readers' Forum).

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

News

I’m going to Jakarta Tourism Summit 2007. As an architect I am interested in urban tourism and environmental issues (see more discussion issues from JTS website). As a housewife I am confused on providing my time to be there. As a citizen reporter I am urged to be there…

Now I knew the different between current issues and news. Some days ago my brother commented on wikimu; “wikimu is quite something as a media, it reported the British Council event before the news posted in British Council’s own website”.

Actually wikimuwas also the second in the internet reporting about an earthquake. Yet, we can post even a very short article to keep it really update. We don’t have to worry about the length of the article. Off course we do need to be linked to the internet. This is the only obstacle. A fellow citizen reporter from Papua finished his study in Yogyakarta and came back to Papua without internet access. We miss his reports. Communication comes through articles. If voices could not be voice out then frustration can be the output. We need to speak and to listen to each other to gain a better cooperation in building this country (the most important thing is still the ACTION!).

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Current Issue

What is a current issue? The daily Jakarta Post is the earliest (I knew) reported the National Bloggers’ Day. The daily Kontan published the event’s report yesterday. The daily Kompas wrote a page about blogging and the party today. Yet, my article (today, November 2) was turned down by the senior editor of Ohmy News as something “too old”.

I’ve read a T-shirt’s design wore in the bloggers’ party “No one cares about your blog”. I do think that people do care as long as it is something that they think is important.

Nobody wrote about the Indonesian bloggers meeting in OMNI so I do think it is still a current issue. Perhaps, my way of presenting it was wrong. I do not master how to write a feature. One of my articles that I sent to a mainstream media here was never published, and I overheard that the editor was confused where it would fit, Feature or Opinion.

It is so hard to work as a citizen reporter without the proper facilities. I’m glad that my writing about fighting the poverty can get published in Ohmy News. Then, I was already struggling with the problem of my new modem. I just bought it about three months ago through Telkom, so I could still ask for its replacement. As there were Lebaran holidays it was a long wait until I got back my modem. Before I had the chance to get it connected (glad that I did not connect it), the computer broke down. The electricity wire got struck by the thunder storm (one of the 480 thunderstorms on that afternoon, as stated by the BMG). So I’ve got to go to the Blogger Party without having a proper research. I printed out my invitation in my brother’s house just after I left my children in my parents’ house to go for the party.

My article reporting the National Bloggers’ Party for wikimu was commented by a reader as a very modest report. Although it is about my way of using the word Bapak (Mr) or Bapak Menteri, but I knew that it was also too plain….I wrote it in a restaurant borrowing a friend’s notebook.

After the Lebaran, my domestic assistant did not come back. So the proportion of handling the house chores are abundant. Without my personal computer I am paralyzed. While I usually can cut my sleeping hours to write, now I can do nothing…

Do I become addicted to the internet? Addicted to blogging? I hope not! I’ll always remember the articles about blogging that I read in OMNI, one from Claire George, and the other one from Nicolas van der Leek. I hope I can prepare myself to have a more balancing life in my relation with the internet.

I’m going to ease down…

The important thing is to deliver the content. And I do need to remember to make check and recheck before delivering it. I won’t change it to have instant sensational news.

I like the term citizen journalism as it gives me the feeling of being a citizen in the global world as well. It also gave me a chance to do things that I won’t have as a housewife. I won’t have the chance to visit Seoul on an invitation if it was not for the article I wrote about wikimu.com.

The term grassroots journalism is not really appealing for me. Why? Don’t know…, it is just that the word “citizen” gave a better direction as for “right and obligation”.

In the Bloggers’ party there were seats reserved for the press, but as it is a party without the presence of the president we were free to take pictures. Journalists or non journalists were all free to go to the front and take pictures.

I know now that I should put my blog under the term of bridge blogging. Let my current issues be something currently thought in my mind.

Hopefully my computer can be fixed soon, and I’ll be able to concentrate on writing my current thoughts in my blog. (He..he..he..this post is still written using another borrowed note book).

Friday, 2 November 2007

New Voices of Indonesia Speak Through the Internet.

Pesta Blogger Nasional Celebrating the First National Bloggers’ Day in Indonesia.

Indonesian government acknowledges the value of Indonesian grassroots’ voices that speak through the internet. Voices from the mailing lists, Readers’ Forum, to the voices of bloggers in the internet are now considered the new voices of Indonesia (Suara Baru Indonesia).

The Minister of Communication and Information, Muhammad Nuh, opened the First Indonesian Bloggers’ Party (Pesta Blogger) that served about 500 bloggers on the 27th October 2007 in Jakarta.



Indonesian bloggers came from Sumatera, Sulawesi, Java, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore joined the party. It was also a celebration of the first National Bloggers’ Day. The government gave its support and will guarantee the freedom of speech in the internet. Yet, bloggers do need to remember their responsibility in presenting their country through the cyber space, and to help building Indonesia through their views and developing critics.



As an archipelago with more than 17,000 islands the internet will surely be the best tool to make a faster and easier connection to unify the citizens. The Indonesian bloggers are now approximately 130,000 people, which is far beyond the huge population of Indonesia. While developing the ICT to serve Indonesian people, it is also important to raise people’s awareness of their position as bloggers in presenting Indonesia to the global world.

This bloggers’ day celebration took place a day before the celebration of the Youth Pledge Day. It was hoped that the spirit that unified the youth in 1928 will be renewed and unified the Indonesian through the power of these new voices.

The internet is more familiar to the young people in Indonesia. There are plenty of teenlits published by youngsters after their blogs. But as shown in this first Indonesian bloggers’ party, a blog is not exclusively maintained by youngsters. I met the oldest blogger in the party, a seventy six-year-old, Prof. Dr. Iwan Darmansjah. His blog is mostly about health and medicine, and he said that he already kept it for ten years.

As in an Indonesian wedding party, where people can meet a lot of friends and be introduced to new acquaintances, the party was served to all range of age. There were also some seventh grader students and ninth grader students who maintained their blogs for about one or two years.

Family and school seemed to have a good influence in introducing blogging to youngsters. I’ve met a family whose members are all keeping their own blogs. First, it was to cater a long distance relation between parents as the father had to work far from the family. Then it became a habit that was followed by the children. The eldest son, who did not really keen on writing, started his first blog about Play Station Games. Now he is also posting to another blog as a part of his school assignment. The younger son started his blog last year when he was a sixth grader student. While his father’s blog is called ndobos (Javanese word for nonsense), he named his blog anakndobos (the child of ndobos). He wrote about his daily routine. He was frankly said in his post about the bloggers’ party that he kept playing Game Boy as he did not understand what the minister was talking about. Yet, as he revealed to me, he never wrote any complaint about his parents in his blog.

I think this is the different between blog and diary. When I was his age I wrote a lot of things in my diary, including my complaints for my parents or teachers. It was wonderful to look back at the diary and learnt how I grew up and to keep reminding myself on things that I might now act as a parent. While diary can be keep personal, blog is meant to be a public share.

Blog is a way to communicate to each other, relate to new acquaintance, or even fight for defending arguments. It will do good deeds as long as we keep it in the cyber world noted Ong Hock Chuan. He is a Malaysian blogger, a former journalist who is now a technical advisor for Maverick (the Public Relation Company that also helped worked out this event). In his blog he posted an article about the dispute between Malaysia and Indonesia on a traditional song known to Indonesian as a song from Maluku, East of Indonesia. He received 249 comments from Indonesia and Malaysia. While the discussion was heated in the cyber space, hopefully a better understanding of the different views could ease down the anger in the real world.

This big event was organized by some senior bloggers with Enda Nasution as the chairperson of the steering committee. The committee was consisted of some popular names like
Budi Putra
, Nukman Luthfie, Wimar Witoelar, Shinta Danuwardoyo, Wicaksono, etc. Bloggers’ communities came using their own T-shirts’ design. Some were advertising their community, and there was also an activity from the Bundaran Hotel Indonesia community (Jakarta) to raise education fund for children from Bangsari, a village near Yogyakarta.


In the first session which was moderated by Wimar Witoelar, stories of bloggers came out. From those who can have their books published, to those who found the spouse through blogging activities. Another blogger lost her job in a TV station after a story she posted in her blog provoked anger from the Malaysian Minister of Tourism. She revealed her gratitude to other bloggers who kept supported and encouraged her during her ordeal. In this session Adrianto as the CEO of wikimu.com was also giving his words. He said that wikimu.com as a citizen journalism website is the participatory form of citizen in revealing their opinions. I have noted that more people are now attracted to write for citizen- journalism websites, and only some of these writers have their own blogs.

The second session divided the participants into several topics. The topics were personal blog, celebrity blog, current issues, bridge blogging, women’s issues, on-line marketing and sales, and technology blog.

I registered myself in current issues as I’d like to know more about how to handle current issues in my limited time for writing. I think it is important to know how to make an objective view if I want to cover current issues for my blog. My blog Buah Pena was constructed after I knew citizen journalism website. I consider it as my diary as a citizen reporter. I like the term citizen journalism because it reminded me of my duty as a citizen of my country and also as a citizen of the world. The moderator for this group were Wicaksono (a senior journalist), and Rudiyanto (an NGO worker).

This second session was very informal so I did placed myself between two groups, Current Issues and Bridge Blogging, to be able to hear both discussions. While the participants for Current Issues were plenty, the participants for Bridge Blogging were only about ten persons. Moderated by Ong Hock Chuan, the topics Bridge Blogging was mainly concern about the function of a blog as a bridge to give information about Indonesia to the world.

Actually the conversation in the group of Bridge Blogging was more interesting for me, but my interest in grassroots’ objectives on current issues kept me longer in the bigger crowd. As an excerpt from Bridge Blogging, I got that language is still the main obstacle for bridge blogging but there are plenty of friends who will be happy to help out. Then, community of mailing list, forum, or citizen journalism website can become an additional resource of knowledge and help. The voices from bridge blogs are important to give more opinions on Indonesia outside the voice of the mainstream media to the world.



There are two important things that I dig out in this session. First, as a blogger I do not have to worry about current issues. Just be ourselves. That way we can produce a better view on any current issues that took our interests. Then, for being a bridge between Indonesia to the world it is important to be very objective. Networking communities can be a big help to gain more knowledge and to build a better blog performance.

Between the two session people made their vote for their chosen blogs. This vote brought some prizes such as Nokia Hand Phone. A lap top was a spontaneous gift from the minister for the most voted blog. It was such a party, but it was also a start for a bigger job. To be the real new voices!