On October 26, 2023, the Korean National Commission for UNESCO and Seoul Design Foundation held the 2023 UNESCO Creative Cities Network Forum in Seoul, Korea, with the theme “The people power in solidarity through culture”. The following is copied from their invitation:
The Korean National Commission for UNESCO has promoted active exchanges and cooperation among domestic member cities and has widely promoted and developed excellent cases of domestic creative cities at home and abroad.
Seoul Design Foundation (SDF) was initially proposed on November 2008 by the Seoul Metropolitan Government in order to promote design industries in Seoul. Since launched on 2nd March 2009, Seoul Design Foundation has been implementing various design projects running Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), Seoul Upcycling Plaza, and Seoul Design Incubating Centre.
In this situation, the 2023 UNESCO Creative Cities Network Forum will be held to contribute to creating a comprehensive, safe, and resilient sustainable city and residence by UNESCO’s SDG 11 on the same date as the Seoul Design Conference.
Since I was unable to attend in person, I sent a video presentation. In order to keep with the timing, I prepared the script in advance. So copied below is the deck, and the script as the captions, for the sake of documenting the event. The amazing team in Seoul has also taken photos (attached here as well) during the screening of my video, which I am immensely grateful for.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I regret for not being able to attend in person, but I am grateful that I get the chance to participate online. I am Tita, the focal point of Bandung, UNESCO City of Design. Today I would like to share our stories concerning community initiatives and how they shape the look of our city.
When “Bandung” is mentioned, people are usually reminded of “Bandung Conference”, an historical event in 1955 where 29 Asian and African countries gathered to make a stance. The declaration of the conference contains keywords that have become the spirit of Bandung people up to today: economy, culture, human rights, peace, and International partnership.
The city of Bandung itself has a long reputation as a place to go for shopping, fashion and culinary experience. The amount of higher education institutions, research centres and strategic national industries attracts young people, who dominate the demography of Bandung City.
There was a momentum when these young people, united in communities, organised under one hub organisation called Bandung Creative City Forum or BCCF, responded to various urban issues by building prototypes of solutions, both tangible and intangible interventions to public spaces and groups of local communities.
All programs and activities of BCCF implement Design Thinking method, with Urban Acupuncture concept, where the city is considered an organic entity, not unlike a human body, that has centres for thinking, breathing, memories, waste disposal; facilities for distributions of energy, nutrition, and all.
Each urban space intervention is like pinning a needle of creativity in spots of the body that – if conducted consistently at the right spots – is hoped to heal the whole body, or the city, making it function better.
This movement, that started in 2007, has shaped the characteristics of Bandung people, who see Design as a way of thinking to solve urban issues, that manages to create values and meanings according to the actual needs and contexts; Creativity as a strategy to lessen the gap between people and government, people and policy, and among all stakeholders; and Prototypes as a driver of Social Innovation, to make rapid improvements that can be conducted by all citizens.
With this angle, Bandung joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a City of Design since 2015.
Such movement occurs as well in other cities in Indonesia; young people, who are aware that we can no longer rely on economy activities that depends on the extraction of natural resources, shift to economy activities that requires human intelligence and creativity.
These young people also formed cross community forums, built networks with each other, conducted programs and events that involve economy activities, and often offered urban solutions that also become social innovations.
These forums gathered and established Indonesia Creative Cities Network in 2015. ICCN currently has more than 240 city members from all over Indonesia. All ICCN members are committed to implement the 10 Principles of Indonesia Creative City.
Having an organisation with such diverse members require frameworks that can be implemented by all. ICCN refers to the Creative Economy Ecosystem, establishes the 10 Principles of Indonesia Creative Cities that comply with the SDGs, and Catha Ekadasa, or the 11 ways or guide to implement the 10 Principles, and involves Hexa Helix stakeholders in 3C steps – Connect Collaborate Commerce/Celebrate in all its programs.
One example is as follows.
Fashion Village Lab, an industrial area for multinational fashion labels, located in Cigondewah, the periphery of Bandung City.
The project started with a research on the issues of housing for the factory workers, but it turned out that the problems are more complex. What started as housing issues extended into environmental, social and economy issues as well.
All stakeholders were being involved, including the multinational brands at their headquarters; local governments down to the neighbourhood levels, the factory workers and local inhabitants. It was discovered that the workers also make a living outside their factory hours, and the villagers have an income from various jobs related to the factory activities.
Fashion Village Lab consisted of, among others, experimentations on up cycling the fabric waste into building bricks and other commodities, improvement of public facilities, plans of circular fashion production unit that includes an area for natural-dye plants, and an establishment of a cooperation of local women entrepreneurs.
The mapping of the project show supporting factors and stakeholders in Fashion Village Lab, and is used as a reference once the project is ready to be restarted after the pandemic.
Another project is Urban Games, of which themes and contents can be modified according to the events and contexts. One game attempts to reintroduce Bandung through its culinary culture and heritage through a “treasure hunt” activity.
Another game asks high school students to map environmental issues with an app, which then reveal the findings to the authorities for follow-ups.
These kinds of activities have more or less changed the face of the city. Young entrepreneurs have turned idle spaces into studios, workshop, offices and stores, such as this military warehouses.
Turning conventional market into a cool place to hang out, such as this one where hundreds of emerging local brands are being displayed.
Such as this mixed use of a traditional wet market, when the kiosks that sell vegetables, fruits and meat close at noon, another kiosks open: those that sell coffee and food, and those providing space for various activities, such as movie screening, discussion, poetry reading, and so on.
To conclude, it is important for cities with similar characteristics to Bandung – a growing and dense city – that is dominated by young generations of different backgrounds who are highly motivated to change the city so they have a better place to live, work and play, to have clear directions or frameworks, in order to be able to assess the impacts and plan the next strategic actions – and to maintain the spirit of urban culture in solidarity, inclusivity and partnership.