Welcome to the Goethe-Institut CityScapes Blog.
From January through December 2011, these were the parameters for a playground of diverse, fascinating, vibrant tales: Responding individually to a collective impetus, a host of hand-picked young bloggers uploaded photos, texts, and multimedia. Every month, they were given a new theme. Step by step, they created a kaleidoscope of impressions, opinions, ideas and… plain fun.
This project has now ended. If you like what you see, you may want to check out the brand new CityTales Comic Blog.
Back in 1965, 35 percent of Jakarta was green space. Today, this space has shriveled to a sad 9 percent.
Instead of city and neighborhood parks, the government was more interested in more and more office buildings and shopping malls in the past 45 years, resulting in a city that feels overcrowded and concreted.
Only a few green areas in the city remain, among others Monas, Taman Suropati, Gelora Bung Karno, Ragunan Zoo and Taman Mini Indonesia, along with some neighborhood parks in Menteng and Tebet.
But those looking for outdoor activities on the weekends or in their spare time certainly don’t have many options in Jakarta.
Kids grow up in Plaza Indonesia and Senayan City, rather than spending their time on playgrounds and climbing on trees.
When I was still living in Germany, I would often grab a book and a blanket and head out to the nearest park, where I could spend hours reading or just observing people around me. I'd also sometimes meet friends, and we’d sit down in the green grass and have a chat while nibbling on some snacks that someone had brought along.
In Jakarta, this is merely impossible. Mainly because most of my Indonesian friends and relatives would think I am crazy if I’d suggest this.
Most people rather go to the air-conditioned mall to meet up, rather than sweating under the glaring sun.
This alternative is not only less healthy, but also more expensive - but it seems like the overwhelming majority of Jakartans is willing to pay this price.
However, mall-weary people do exist. Recently, the lack of green spaces in Jakarta - and along with it, the inability to follow a lifestyle often referred to as “green living” - has been bemoaned by more city dwellers than ever.
Last year, city planners have joined forces to draft a new masterplan, aiming to transform Jakarta’s landscape into a modern city with better living conditions for its inhabitants.
The 2010-30 master plan also includes the target to increase green spaces to at least 30 percent.
But the master plan is, at least for now, exactly just that: a plan.
In the past, many plans concerning Jakarta have never been realized, be it an attempt to reduce the horrible traffic situation in the city, or to save the old city center from deterioration.
Unfortunately, the same fate might befall the green master plan.
Surely everybody loves and supports the idea of living in a green city - a greener Jakarta would probably be welcomed with open arms even by the mall hoppers.
But how to get there? Well, that is another question. And its answer is still open for debate.