Clustering Works Better than Individuals

This post has been postponed for a tad too long, and to cancel it altogether feels like a shame, since there’s something to share, although only a little bit. Alright. This is from The 3rd Indonesia International Conference on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Small Business (IICIES), held by School of Business and Management (SBM) of Institute of Techology Bandung (ITB) on July 26-28, 2011, at Gedung Merdeka, Bandung. The title of this year’s IICIES was “Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship in the New Era”.

I was appointed as the moderator for the first panel session, so I might post about it later. But for now, I’d like to note down some points taken from the keynote speech, about “Creative Clusters”, by Gerald Lidstone from Goldsmiths University, London.

He opened the session by complementing that IICIES was much more creative, innovative and exciting, contained more energy and diversity, compared to a meeting he attended previously, before he came to Indonesia.

He then began his speech with a statement: how it is possible to cluster different fields of creativity.

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use it the more you have. – Maya Angelou

UK "creativity" map He continued by presenting a graph that shows how Creativity can be seen as a developing process; in this case, according to the UK government. I recreated the graph in a much simpler form, containing the following phases:

–       (Start) giving children creative education

–       Turning talents into jobs

–       Supporting research and innovation

–       Helping creative business grow and access finance

–       Fostering & protecting intellectual property

–       Supporting creative clusters*

–       Promoting Britain as the world’s creative hub

–       Keeping the strategy up-to-date

From here, we could see the position of Creative Clusters, at which phase they take part within the ‘wheel’.

The next graph showed the levels/scopes of “creative industry”, which starts with (1) core creative fields, which would form (2) cultural industries, leading to (3) creative industry & activities, and end with (4) the rest of economy. In this graph, Creative Clusters exist between the 3rd and 4th levels.

Meanwhile, UNCTAD classification of creative industries is as follows, where Creative Clusters are already visible.

Creativity is the ability to find new solutions to a problem or new modes of expression; thus it brings into existence something new to the individual and to the culture. – Betty Edwards (Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain)

Creative Commons are sometimes a movement against the government and big businesses; to resist controls.

Among the examples given was how creative core actors (artists, etc.) tend to look for neglected/abandoned spaces to work, since it’s the most affordable they can get. Then little businesses cluster around them. People is the creativity software who (re)use the buildings. No fancy place. This kind of live-work facilities is a way that actually works.

Businesses then move to where the workers are, forming cultural activities of an area.

These cases can be seen as the emergence of contemporary arts, etc . What happens to the old crafts production, such as textiles, ceramics and jewelry or metal crafts? They support the new entrepreneur.

See, this reminded me of the amount of old buildings in Bandung that are running down and only waiting to fall down, while the creativity and the energy of the people are alarmingly high. What kind of matchmakers do we need?

There are four levels of development for the Creative Cluster:

1 MATURE: one that has been around for a long time, and is usually a business to business consumption, i.e. Hollywood for film/TV, Milan for fashion and furniture design/products, and New York, Paris and London for fashion.

2 DEPENDENT: one with public investments (public subsidy) by governments, regions, cities, etc., financing SME and micro creative enterprises. This happens to limited and underdeveloped local markets, where governments have stepped in. Examples for this were: UK creative industry quarters in Sheffield, Taipei creative industry development, and digital media city Seoul.

3 ASPIRATIONAL: one with very small beginning but with high levels of public and institutional promotional activity. It starts with a group of people trying to be bigger, as in “How fast can you develop without public money?”. Examples included Creative Precinct Brisbane, Digital Media Singapore and Westergasfabriek Amsterdam.

4 EMERGENT: it’s a start-up cluster with infrastructural investment from the public sector, one that develops local and regional markets. It has visible cultural consumption and internationalization of market reach, i.e. digital media in Barcelona (that gets supports from state companies, European Union and government) and film/TV industries in Cardiff.

As for Indonesia, the question was: where does the Indonesian government put their money? In business, or infrastructure? Because it requires lots of political will and finance to determine a country’s creative industries.

He continued discussing the role of universities and centers of research, presenting an example of Arabianranta in Helsinki, which is a home to 10,000 people, a workplace for 5,000 people, a campus area for 6,000 students (including Aalto applied sciences and Helsinki pop & jazz conservatory) and contains 1,500 professionals. It is also a hub for 300 enterprises that holds 4,000 employees. What’s remarkable is the ability to feed off the creativity, finding new business partners and customers via their website [arabianranta.fi]. Among the ongoing projects they have is Helsinki Living Lab, sponsored by TEKES, which promotes user-driven methods and tools for improving the real-world development of Product and Services.

Another example is Dr. Who, a renowned television series in the UK. The series started in 1963 until 1989, and was revived in 2005. Dr. Who is an old brand. BBC commissioned a new program from a regional center, Wales, which was unusual. Market research showed negative result for the plan, but it turned out that there were 30 million viewers per series, 10.4 million alone in New Year Day 2011. As a consequence, BBC Wales doubled its income in 3 years to 50 million pounds.

This doesn’t stop right there. The success of the series led to the creation of interactive computer games, trailers, etc. Tourism to locations has also increased to more than 40% over the last ten years (it reached up to 13 million visitors in 2008). In Cardiff, a number of activities also turned up as the excess: exhibitions, studio tours, etc. More spillover benefits of course also include the employments of writers, catering, property design, costumes, aviation repair, etc. Based on this experience, BBC has decided to make 50% of BBC Network TV shows outside London by 2016.

That was a result ff government invests in infrastructure to get creativity going.

Creative industries are more innovative than many high-innovation sectors, i.e. professional and business services.

NESTA (National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts) maps all clusters in UK.

Presence of creative business generate a creative buzz.

All are achieved with collaborations, not individualism.

He closed his presentation by discussing the following list of Myth versus Reality concerning INNOVATION (source: “Leading Innovation”), as follows:

INNOVATION

MYTH

REALITY

Flash of insight Comes from immersion
Brilliant idea Fail early but often
Individualistic Collaborative
New knowledge Admitting ignorance
Invention Mostly development
Originality Borrowing
Look to the future Look sideways and backwards
Internal research and development Networked, open innovation
Product pipeline Consumers as innovators
All about learning But unlearning (questioning, being radical) just as vital

Conclusively, he stated that Clustering works much better than individuals.

Urban Acupuncture: Cikapundung

Notes about the current condition of Cikapundung, as told by an inhabitant

This is a note from an urban acupuncture workshop (held on August 10, 2011), the first one I ever attended, which focused on Cikapundung River that runs across Bandung, West Java, which is actually an important waterline where early citizens of Bandung started to settle. As with a human body, an urban acupuncture is also similar to piercing and fixing ‘nerves’ where problems exist, within an urban area. It doesn’t try to solve everything all at once, but by taking it spot by spot, as it is conducted by individuals and communities, not by an established (government) institution who has the means to make significant changes.

In order to gain different angles in looking at the problems and, consequently, a variety of conclusions, people from different disciplines and interest groups were invited. There were participants from Komunitas Sahabat Kota, House the House, National Geographic, Kompas, WALHI, Bandung Heritage, LABO, students from School of Business and Management, Industrial Design, Architecture, etc., as well as local inhabitants of Cikapundung River, who became the main keys of our workshop.

Notes about the current conditions of Cikapundung River

The workshop started with an introduction to the area. Although most of us have known Cikapundung, or at least parts of it, it was still an eye-opener to watch photos of how the river has been treated, how it used to be, and its current conditions in different parts. It was especially capturing to watch a video of the whole river (taken in 1998, before the existence of Cipularang Highway and Pasupati Brigde), starting from its spring at the Northern part of Bandung, to where it ends at the South upon meeting the bigger Citarum River before flowing into the sea. Even then we could see parts of the riverbanks that were still lavishly green (i.e. within the zoo property), and where they were being pressed by housings and massive constructions (i.e. next to an expanding shopping center).

Notes from Nicolas Buchoud’s presentation

An extra material for the workshop was a presentation by Nicolas Buchoud, a “senior French urban development expert and planner from Paris, France” (quoted from the invitation). At that moment, Nicolas is a guest of Urbane, who initiated the Urban Acupuncture workshop. Nicolas gave an overview about urban planning and projects he has done, but it is important to note, he said, that he was not going to tell us what to do with Cikapundung since he doesn’t know better than us about the site, and that it’s us who knows best about what we want with that part of our city.

A direct visit in the afternoon to a part of Cikapundung was scheduled as a session of that workshop. However, due to time limitation, we had to cancel the site visit and worked right away on the discussion instead. It was a playful discussion session. Here’s how it went:

Notes about the design requirements

Ridwan Kamil, architect/principal of Urbane, who led the workshop, explained the actual potentials of Cikapundung River, divided into a number of purposes. The purposes don’t have to be entirely separated, but can also be overlapping one another. Since we only had less than three hours to hold the discussion and present the results, only one purpose or theme of the river was chosen: river play.  In three groups, we were asked to come up with a design that accommodates people’s needs to interact with the river in a playful way, such as games or other kinds of fun attractions. Among the requirements was that our proposals should be feasible, or affordable and can be realized within about five weeks.

We were given papers and colorful markers to draw our ideas and plans. The group I took part with had a local Cikapundung inhabitant as a member, who could tell us what has been done and what could be possible, which helped us a lot in mapping out possibilities.

Notes about possible themes for riverside activities

At the end of the discussion session, each group was to present its designs. We really came up with a high variety of games and activities, involving not only the local communities but also visitors, either individually or in groups. The activities ranged widely, from leisure walks and ‘treasure hunt’ to adrenaline-rushing plots and energy-taxing games, which didn’t necessarily require ‘buildings’ or massive structures – some proposals even came in the forms of play-rules and systems.

Considering the time span we had, of course all results were at their initial phase that still needed a lot of substantial improvements. However, we have experienced a participatory design process in a pleasant way.

Closing the workshop, also while waiting for the sun to set as a sign to break the fast, Nicolas gave his evaluation about the workshop and about Cikapundung River in general. He drew over a GoogleEarth-projected image of Cikapundung River from North to South and put colorful stick-on strips at a number of points along the river: bright yellow for ‘average pressure’ and pink for ‘high pressure’.

Among the most important points he mentioned were as follows:

–       Along the river, we could see a lot of massive structures and buildings that will never be altered or disturbed, such as ITB campus, the city hall, and so on, around that area, which formed the ‘strong’ points of the river. We could also see that there are ‘weak’ points that can easily push the river to oblivion. The river could one day be a mere sewer if we don’t take care of it.

–       The weak points are, among others, the squatters and semi-legal housing along the riverbanks, and the greeneries that belong to established properties such as the zoo and the sport field. These points are obviously threatened by the expansion of Cihampelas commercial district.

–       One suggestion would be for independent communities to take over the weak points by collaborating with the proprietors of the greeneries sites, in order to strengthen the river line.

–       Another suggestion would be for communities to inform the (semi-legal) inhabitants along the river, who are the actual guardians of the river whose lives depend on it, that if they want to stay there, they should really take care of the river. Keep the river clean and flowing, free of garbage and foul smell, pleasant to look at and be around with.

All in all, the workshop was a productive one. We realized that this once was obviously not enough, that there should be follow-ups and a lot of works, until our hope and ideas for Cikapundung become concrete.

Related links:

– An article in Pikiran Rakyat about the workshop (in Indonesian): Cikapundung Tertata Bisa Jadi Ikon Bandung di Mancanegara

– An article in this site about Ridwan Kamil’s presentation concerning the subject of design & sustainability: Negotiating A New Indonesia

All scribbles were made during the workshop, using Penultimate on iPad2

Ibu-ibu Kita Masih Melahirkan Pejuang

Ungkapan tersebut tentu sudah akrab bagi kita yang pernah membaca atau mendengar mengenai Indonesia Mengajar, termasuk saya sendiri. Telah beberapa kali saya membaca dan mengagumi gerakan ini, dan menganggapnya menjadi sebuah penghiburan yang membesarkan harapan pada Indonesia, “Negri yang pantas dicintai”, kata Kang A’at Soeratin, di tengah-tengah gencarnya berita-berita dari tanah air yang memuakkan. Oleh karena itu, ketika ada kesempatan untuk mendengarkan Pak Anies Baswedan berbicara mengenai pendidikan, saya langsung mendaftar untuk hadir, terutama karena ingin tertular semangat dan optimismenya terhadap kebangkitan bangsa ini.

Acaranya berlangsung di Rumah Belajar Semi Palar, Bandung, 25 Agustus 2011, mulai pukul 3 sore. Ketika saya datang, acara sudah dimulai dengan pengantar dari Kang A’at (bagi yang belum kenal, coba cek situs Garis Depan Nusantara – beliau termasuk salah satu anggota tim ekspedisi GDN). Setelah itu saya mulai mencatat hal-hal yang disampaikan Pak Anies, dalam sketsa dan tulisan berikut ini (mohon maklum kalau tidak runut dan kurang lengkap, karena mengandalkan sketsa dan ingatan)…

sketchnote 1

Kalau kita dengar profesi “guru” di Indonesia ini, konotasinya adalah: kurang memadainya kualitas mereka, rendahnya tingkat kesejahteraan, dan kurang meratanya distribusi tenaga pengajar ke seluruh Nusantara. Ini jelas merupakan masalah, janji negri ini pada bangsanya yang belum terlunasi. Indonesia Mengajar mencoba menjawab masalah ini dengan mengirimkan pengajar-pengajar berkualitas tinggi ke pelosok Nusantara, karena pendidikan merupakan tanggung jawab moral semua orang terdidik.

Mengutip Abah Iwan ketika melepas satu angkatan Pengajar Muda, bahwa “(Menjadi pengajar di pelosok tanpa fasilitas yang memadai) bukanlah pengorbanan, tapi merupakan kehormatan”, memang benar. Sebab para Pengajar Muda ini adalah orang-orang muda terpilih, yang telah mengalami proses seleksi ketat dan pelatihan yang sesungguhnya. Rasio jumlah yang terseleksi dibandingkan jumlah pendaftar jauh mengalahkan rasio perebutan bangku perguruan tinggi favorit di negri ini – bedanya, yang ini nyata dan hasilnya benar-benar diuji langsung di daerah penempatan.

sketchnote 2

Ketika merdeka, penduduk Republik Indonesia sekitar 70 juta jiwa. Jumlah sekolah dasar baru ada 15 ribu, kini ada sekitar 147 ribu, dan mampu menyerap hingga sekitar 94-96% pendaftar. Ketika merdeka, hanya ada segelintir jumlah sekolah menengah dan lanjutan, apalagi perguruan tinggi, sehingga jelas bahwa kualitas SDM kita masih lemah, bahkan sebagian masih buta huruf. Sehingga yang terjadi adalah, ketika membanggakan potensi negri, para pemimpin bangsa ini mengajukan SDA, hasil bumi dan hasil tambang, sebagai yang terunggul. Sekarang seharusnya berbeda: para pemimpin bangsa ini seharusnya kini dapat lebih menghargai SDM kita, dan tidak lagi bergantung pada (eksploitasi) SDA – yang adalah cara berpikir jaman kolonial.

Are we ready to prepare our children to become global citizens? Seharusnya kita sudah menyadari, bahwa letak negara-negara tetangga lebih dekat dan jauh lebih mudah dijangkau ketimbang kota-kota di pulau-pulau lain di Indonesia. Anak-anak di wilayah-wilayah tersebut seharusnya dibekali dengan pengetahuan lebih, terutama keterampilan berbahasanya.

Sebagian besar (20%) dari bangsa Indonesia peraih gelar PhD adalah dalam studi-studi yang berkaitan dengan agama. Setelah itu baru ilmu-ilmu lain: ilmu sosial, ekonomi, sains, engineering, dsb. But we need more than prayers to produce technology.

Berbagai data dan statistik menunjukkan perbandingan jumlah pelajar Indonesia dalam prosentase yang jauh lebih kecil dibandingkan dengan pelajar dari negara-negara lain, yang menempuh pendidikan di negara-negara industri maju. Namun tidak perlu berkecil hati, sebab ternyata sebagian besar dari para pelajar asing ini adalah dalam tingkat vocational, sehingga sekembalinya mereka ke negara masing-masing, mereka akan bekerja di bidang industri manufaktur – yang kurang lebih masih dalam kontrol negara-negara maju tersebut.

Kita seharusnya bisa melakukan loncatan lebih dari mereka, dengan cara mengandalkan, melatih dan menajamkan kreativitas dan daya berpikir kritis.

[Video yang ditayangkan untuk memberikan gambaran mengenai pentingnya mendidik generasi abad ke-21 dengan tepat. Apakah kita siap?]

 

Dari data lain, terlihat bahwa sebagian besar pelajar SD di Indonesia tidak dapat melanjutkan ke jenjang-jenjang yang lebih tinggi. Bila melihat angka jumlah pelajar SMA, para pelajar yang memulai SD pada saat yang bersamaan tidak ‘terangkut’ atau tidak dapat terus ke tahap pendidikan lanjut.

Bila orang-orang seangkatan orang tua kita pada saat seumur kita ditanya, 30 tahun lalu berada di mana, jawabannya sebagian besar adalah di kampung, di daerahnya yang letaknya mungkin sangat jauh dari ibukota. Apa yang membawa mereka berhasil berkehidupan di kota-kota besar, menjadi professional yang sukses di bidangnya, bahkan menduduki berbagai posisi penting? Pendidikan. Apakah pendidikan kini masih dapat mengangkat harkat hidup orang-orang dari pelosok Indonesia seperti masa itu?

Kini, bila kita ditanya, 30 tahun berada di mana, jawabannya hampir dipastikan adalah kota-kota besar di Indonesia, dari kaum menengah ke atas. Bukti bahwa pendidikan belum berhasil menjangkau dan meningkatkan kesejahteraan secara merata.

Perancang sistem pendidikan adalah perancang sistem sosial suatu masyarakat. Manusia terdidik akan mampu meningkatkan tingkat sosial dan ekonominya, dengan pendidikan sebagai ekskalatornya.

sketchnote 3

Para Pengajar Muda adalah warga sipil yang kelak dapat mengatakan, “Aku telah membaktikan diri pada negriku”. Mereka ditempatkan di pelosok-pelosok Nusantara untuk tinggal dan mengajar di sana selama satu tahun. Setelah itu mereka harus pulang untuk menjadi professional di bidangnya masing-masing. Posisi mereka di daerah penempatan digantikan oleh Pengajar Muda angkatan berikutnya, dan terus bergantian, hingga lima tahun.

Dengan cara ini, mereka akan memiliki dua ‘rumah’, yaitu daerah asalnya sendiri, dan daerah di mana mereka ditempatkan, yang akan menciptakan keterikatan batin. Empati kebangsaan dan ke-Bhinneka-an mereka terbentuk selama masa penempatan ini. Sehingga akan terbangun dua hal berikut: di satu sisi para Pengajar Muda mendapatkan pengalaman tak ternilai di daerah penempatan masing-masing, sementara di sisi lain daerah penempatan tersebut pasti akan teringat dan terangkat ketika para Pengajar Muda ini kelak berkarya dalam bidangnya masing-masing. Sistem ini menjadikan para Pengajar Muda tersebut leaders with global qualities, with an understanding of their roots.

Acara berlanjut dengan tanya-jawab hingga waktu berbuka puasa tiba, dilanjutkan dengan acara penutupan. Pak Anies diminta menorehkan dengan spontan kata-kata di kanvas yang di bagian atasnya terdapat bendera merah-putih yang dijahit. Bentangan bendera merah-putih dengan robekan yang terjahit juga hadir sebagai latar acara ini, yang menurut Mas Andy Sutioso dari Rumah Belajar Semi Palar, dipakai di acara tujuh belasan yang lalu. Jahitan tersebut merupakan simbol bahwa kita sedang memperbaiki Indonesia, yang tengah mengalami kerusakan. Pada kanvas itu Pak Anies menuliskan, Ibu kita melahirkan pejuang. Hidupi Republik ini dengan gerak maju lewat pendidikan. Masa depan Republik ini akan cemerlang untuk semua!

Relevant links:

Catatan dari acara yang sama (dengan foto):

http://cinnamome37.blogspot.com/2011/08/catatan-diskusi-bersama-pak-anies-1.html

http://cinnamome37.blogspot.com/2011/08/catatan-diskusi-bersama-pak-anies-2.html

http://cinnamome37.blogspot.com/2011/08/catatan-diskusi-bersama-pak-anies-3.html

Situs Rumah Belajar Semi Palar: http://semipalar.blogspot.com/

Situs Indonesia Mengajar: http://indonesiamengajar.org/