Stephen Kennedy signing on from Solo, Indonesia! I am Master of City Planning student in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies & Planning.
This summer, I am embarking on my first trip to Indonesia with fellow classmate Alice Shay, where we will be working with the organization Solo Kota Kita (“Our City Solo” in Bahasa, or SKK for short). We will be implementing a project for UN-Habitat, sponsored by the Cities Alliance, called “City Development Strategies: Making Urban Investment Work” that involves field work in the Indonesia cities of Banjarmasin, Pekalongan, and Surakarta (Solo).
The primary purpose of the project is to create city profiles to be used as facilitation documents for neighborhood-level planning and participatory budgeting in the fall of 2011. The profiles will provide each local community with a range of images, maps, and analyses of urban issues related to development, environment, poverty, and local governance.
Pin-up of our initial impressions of Solo, Indonesia. Click on image to see it at full size. Photo by Stephen Kennedy.
We are conducting interviews, doing field observations, and using data to create these profiles. We will be working with an interdisciplinary team to interpret and communicate urban patterns and potential futures in these three cities in a way that is user-friendly for government officials and the wider public alike.
I am excited to work in a context of capacity building through this project. Our team will be bringing a particular set of skills to the table, but will also be focusing on enabling local community members to leverage their personal understanding of their community and improve their own skill sets. My personal draw to this project is in leveraging design primarily as a means for visualizing typically dense information about urban conditions. I believe that visualization is integral to making information more accessible and to increasing capacity for communities to engage in the processes shaping their environments.
To kick off the project, Alice and I spent last week at Metropolitan Exchange, an architecture, urban planning, and research cooperative located in downtown Brooklyn, New York. Michael Haggerty, one of our project supervisors, led us on a crash course of Solo. We looked at the data and analysis developed by SKK last year, sketched new map overlays, and discussed our initial thoughts on development in this mid-sized city in Central Java.
I can’t wait to share more about the city and our fieldwork on this site over the course of the next two months. You can join the SKK Facebook group to get live updates and see what’s happening in the community.
• Find more information about Solo Kota Kita and their work in Solo on their website.
• An extensive visual collection of Solo can be found on SKK’s Flickr page.
• Information on UN-Habitat and City Development Strategies can be found here.