Why don’t we just live in another planet?

That question, asked by a 7 y.o. boy, was among the questions Nada and I received after presenting about Climate Change to students and teachers of Cendekia Leadership School (CLS) that morning. Nada (she’s 12 years old, now sits in Grade 7 of SMPN5 Bandung), answered wisely. “We’re not sure if we can survive in another planet’s atmosphere, and we’d need water, too”, said she, “Besides, it’s not nice if we move away from the one we’re destroying already, leaving it broken, then destroy the next one”. More questions that followed didn’t subside, although we were already running out of presents (a booklet from The Body Shop) for those who asked. These questions were a response to the slides and videos within the theme Climate Change, what is it actually?, which we presented in front of about 90 CLS students and teachers.

The opening page of our presentation

Among the slides, next to a number of decks from Al Gore’s materials (translated into Indonesian), were extra slides depicting natural disasters in Indonesia that were related to human activities, and a couple of videos, among other are 7 Billion (National Geographic Magazine) and Halo, Bumi! (Hello, Earth!), a work of a group of students from Design & Sustainability class at ITB. Our points of presentation were the cause of temperature change in the atmosphere, the significant impacts it can cause to the earth’s surface – especially the damages, how human beings contribute to the causes, and also our attempts to prevent and mend the damages.

Nada, explaining

Reactions from our 6-13 years old audiences were a combination of wonders, sometimes affections (when shown an image of a group of penguins standing on top of a drifting ice block), sometimes fascinations (when shown the image of a giant jellyfish), and sometimes also exasperation (when shown an image of a heavily polluted river, and of a person sawing a huge tree).


Nada, also a Climate Presenter and Inconvenient Youth member, has helped a lot during the preparation of the slides. Bearing similar age to the audience, she picked images and videos that might interest the audience and also selected out some that might bore them, or are considered too complicated. Also, since she also did a part of the presentation herself, the kids perhaps felt as if it’s an older sister or a friend who’s telling them a story. Therefore the discussion session that came afterward didn’t need any pause until they raised their hands for questions.

Raising hands

The first ones were questions such as, “Where did you get those videos?”, or “How come it takes so long for those high school students to finish their baso?” (referring to Halo, Bumi! video). The next ones were more focused, such as, “What kinds of gases are dangerous for our atmosphere?”, “Where do those gases come from?”, “Why do we need oxygen to live?”, “Where can we get seeds to plant?”, “We like to plant trees, but where can we do it if everywhere is already full of buildings and streets?”. Some more were actually quite deep, “Why do human beings have to damage the environment they’re living in?”, or radical, “Why can’t we all just die, so trees can continue to live?”

All in all, it was an overwhelming experience. For me, it’s because I’ve never been presenting as a duet before, especially with a 12 y.o. girl, also because I’ve never really been a teacher for elementary school kids for a rather complicated subject. Moreover, these kids are eager and critical. It’s not a simple job to satisfy them with our answers.


p.s. More about The Climate Project:

The Climate Project: http://www.theclimateprojectus.org/

The Climate Project Indonesia (TCP Indonesia): http://www.tcpindonesia.org/

TCP Indonesia in Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TCPIndonesia


p.p.s. After the morning hard work, we deserved some yummy lunch!



Political Trash

These recent weeks are the beginning of a new semester, where I teach – among others – a Design & Sustainability class for Master students. As usual, after the introduction session, I ask each student to present a slide that relays his/her own understanding about design and sustainability. How design might affects the balance of our ecological,social and economic systems, both negatively and positively. One student came up with an interesting data of paper waste we created after an election period.

100 tons of paper waste

100 tons of paper waste was created within one voting period, and this was only  in Gunung Kidul (a region in Central Java) only(!). Imagine how many tons we gathered from all over the archipelago!

Burning papers

There is also a rule that every piece of paper from the voting activity should be destroyed. In this case, by burning. Imagine burning tons of papers. Imagine the amount of carbon dioxide it releases into the air. Not a pretty sight. I’m just wondering… may the destruction of this ‘voting evidence’ involve paper shredding, instead of burning? Turned into pulps and made into card boards?

And, just in case you didn’t vote in Indonesia at that time, or have never seen the actual paper: it’s huge, due to the ridiculous amount of political parties to choose from.

"Stupid Election"

This slide shows one piece of voting paper that, instead of being legally stabbed on the party of the voter’s choice, was written: “The most foolish election since the Soeharto regime”. Look at the size of the paper. Our next presidential election will be in 2014. Now is 2011 and more than 500,000 candidates are already registered. Imagine the size of the voting papers, times the number of Indonesian population who can legally vote. How many trees would be destroyed? Then the printing ink. How many more rivers would be polluted? Then the budget needed to destroy everything, afterward. And so on.

Designers, what can we do? What contributions can we make? Smaller, but still clear, voting papers? Different voting materials, different systems? There should be a smarter way to conduct an election, the one that doesn’t destruct our natural resources, nor polluting our water and air. Electronic voting comes to mind, along with its complexities and potential faults within our Indonesian contexts as well, but should be seriously considered.