Ecobricking in Ciliwung Merdeka, Urban Jakarta

GEA Ecobrick trainers Russell and Ani lead an ecobrick workshop in the humble yet vibrant urban community of Ciliwung Merdeka, Jakarta this week.  The community is located in the land gap between the Ciliwung River and a Jakarta commuter line train station and train tracks.  The dense community has thrived in this informal pocket of land for decades.

With a thriving community, however, come consumption.  And with consumption, plastic.  What to do with plastic waste in Ciliwung?

“We have no choice but to use plastic!” exclaimed one of the workshops participants.  Virtually every piece of food and drop of drink that enters the community is wrapped in plastic.  Each drink involves a plastic bag and a straw.  Consequently, there is plastic everywhere.

Although there is a healthy system of recyclers picking up plastic bottles and plastic containers in the community, the less valuable plastics (like straws and clear plastic bags) are usually not picked up.  They find there way to the ditch where they are either swept into a pile and burned, or swept into the Ciliwung river.

Although the river still flows, its water is a murky brown.  Strange spiny fish, feeding off sewage, jump to catch gulps of oxygen, as there are no plants in the river to provide it.  Despite the humble circumstances of the community, no one fishes these creatures.  This is where all the waste of the community (and indeed the city) flows into.

Russell and Ani were keen to observe how ecobricks were taken to by the participants.  They were keen to observe what kind of relevance ecobricks have to the Jakarta urban context, and what kind of ecobrick constructions are applicable in dense living situations like this.  According to Pak Sandyawan, a long term community member and urban activist “At the very least, ecobricking is going to be a great therapy for our neighborhood!”

In the Ciliwung Merdeka’s Sanggar, the room was packed full of interested people for the workshop.  A giant pile of plastic disapeared into plastic bottles.  We’ll watch with interest how ecobricking now unfolds in Ciliwung…

–Photos by Irfan Kortschak


New Launched!

Hurray!  Our new is launched!  This is the long-rolling culmination of a massive collaboration of artists, designers, engineers, teachers, programmers– all ecobrickers– around the world.

Built from the ground up on a fresh server install, the site is the new home of the Global Ecobrick Alliance. The site is super simple at the moment– but don’t be deceived! It is built on a rock solid foundation of open source collaboration and cutting edge software.

Perhaps the biggest advance for our site is that it is now 100% multi-lingual.  The programmers at OnTheGoSystems, after reading about our work, have blessed us with their full pro package of their WPML software— the leading WordPress multilingual site software!  We’ve built this into our site’s core, meaning that our site can now be smoothly  deployed in new languages.  Currently, we’re up and running in English and Indonesian. At this moment we have Clara and Alix working on our German and French translations. Let us know if you’d like to help us translate with your language!

Meanwhile, the programmers at WP Google maps , also after hearing about our work, blessed us with pro license for their awesome wordpress plugin.   Nick and Dylan have been hard at work helping us optimize our interactive map of ecobrickers around the world.  This functionality will help us all visualize the global spread of ecobricking and connect one to the other.

learning to logOur new site is now fully mobile-friendly.  In fact, this is the top priority for our site as ecobrickers are often rural mothers, farmers or urban folks who only have a basic smartphone to work with.  Our site is first and foremost for them.

A big thanks to our Bali team of helpers who helped pull together all the pages and translation in time for our August Ecobrick dissemination in Jakarta.  Our new multilingual site will be a key asset as ecobricks continue to spread virally throughout Indonesia and the globe.

Development Credits:
Web development Russell Maier, Kusumorini Susanto, Carly Gayle Content Development and translation: Ani Himawati , Clara Fall, Agung Sutama, Irene Angway Ai Igamoto Illustrations by Jo Stodgel El Tiburon Grande, Astrid Gruber . Animations by Elena Molchanova OntheGoSystems: multilingual WMPL site software. WP Google Maps for interactive google map. Photography Josephine Chan , Alexandre Sattler