The growing host of shopping malls and other built-up areas in Jakarta is out of balance with the comparative dearth of green space in the city, driving residents to adopt a highly consumptive lifestyle centered around malls. As a result, Jakartans are slowly forgetting the joy of spending time in parks and indulging in creative outdoor activities.Fighting this depressing state of affairs, a fun and creative campaign has been launched to unearth the hidden potential of Jakarta’s parks.
Hidden Park, organized by the Ministry of Public Works’ Directorate of Urban Planning and Development, kicked off on Oct. 26 and runs through Nov. 17. Organized in collaboration with the private sector, community activists, volunteers and environmental consultants, the campaign is centered on Tebet Park.
“The Hidden Park campaign is a part of the National Green City Development Program, a program initiated by the Ministry of Public Works aiming to create a development balance between economic-driven construction and social-interaction facilities provision. Spatial planning in Jakarta currently seems to focus only on profit development,” Endra Atmawidjaja, deputy director for urban development policies and strategies said.
Endra said demands from hobby communities and the spatial planning law — which requires 30 percent of the city to be dedicated to parks and open space — encouraged the ministry to stimulate an awareness campaign about the importance of the city’s green spaces.
Parks in urban areas are not merely an important part of environmental sustainability, but hold an important social function as a healthier alternative to shopping centers.
“Through the Hidden Park campaign, we want to raise society’s awareness towards the unlimited potential functions of city parks,” Endra said.
Last year’s Hidden Park was relatively small, but turned out to be a great success, encouraging organizers to keep going.
“This year we want to offer a more interesting campaign by arranging various fun activities to do at the park, segmented into four different themes, one for each week during the campaign period,” said Nadine Zamira, environmental consultant and program manager of Hidden Park. The themes are: kids and family, arts and music, sports and play, as well as community. Around 30 community groups are involved in the campaign.
Nadine hopes that in coming years, Jakartans will use the city’s parks regularly. Organizers also encourage citizens to maintain parks with a sense of responsibility and care.
“We are very delighted to see a snowball-effect,” she said. “There have been some similar campaigns in other cities across Indonesia. And in fact, the private sector is now starting to show its attention and support for environmentally-related events.”
The Hidden Park initiative encourages Jakartan citizens to escape from the rat-race in the bustling metropolis, and head to a little park in South Jakarta’s Tebet area to spend some time enjoying the green open space.
From 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on every weekend during the campaign period, the park is hosting a collection of creative events and exercise opportunities, from yoga, knitting, picnics and collaborative painting to guitar lessons and recycling workshops.
Taman Tebet’s Urban Farming corner is one of the attractions with the heaviest visitor traffic, dominated by children. Here, visitors can learn how to plant and tend vegetable gardens, following the process until the vegetables are ready to be harvested and cooked. The purpose is to educate people to engage in an appreciative way towards nature and food. This corner is a supported by Teh Kotak.
Colorful art installations are dotted throughout the park, and a moonlight theater is held every Saturday at 7 p.m.
Shakina Dharma, a 24 year-old Hidden Park visitor, said she was happy spending some time outdoors surrounded by like-minded people.
“I never knew there were any decent parks in Jakarta,” she said.
“The Hidden Park campaign in Tebet is definitely a new experience that can make you get away from the city. Malls are just overrated — eating in the food court is a boring routine, but a meal in the park with friends is really something.”