Have you noticed the giant LED display on Mall Taman Anggrek has a new feature?

As a resident of an apartment complex with unobstructed westward view, I’ve become a big fan of the Mall Taman Anggrek LED facade. As the sun sets over Jakarta’s milky skyline, colors and advertising messages come to a flickering life. Soon, the massive building begins to glow. And watching this, I feel part of a grand, futuristic, urban scenario.

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Photo by Standard Vision (This company built the Taman Aggrek’s LED facade)

So, naturally, last time on the way home from Soekarno Hatta Airport, I made a point of greeting my beloved wall from up close. A pleasant surprise that, instead of the usual ads, there was somehting new going on: The central tall column of the setup invites passers-by to send tweets with the hashtag #TAmonsters. Cute cartoon monsters with your tweet in a speech bubble then proceed to crawl across the screen. “yoo the interactive LED  wall at taman anggrek is.pretty dope! #tamonsters!” I tweeted, then craned my neck in vein as I had passed before I could see “my” monster in action.

“Still”, I said to myself, “Still! – this is pretty cool. I want to find out who did this.”

My first hunch was that it was the PR project of a big toy or games company. Are TAmonsters the new Pokemon? Who knows what kids play with these days.

But it’s actually better than that. The people behind this project are Toge Productions, a small local game developer. These are real geeks given a free pass to experiment with the giant display by Iris Worldwide, an agency which creates content for the Taman Anggrek Billboard.

I asked Kris Antoni, one of the two founders of Toge Productions, a few questions about the project.

 

Q. Why did Iris invite you to do this project?

A. The LED Billboard on Mall Taman Anggrek is very very big. The LED Billboard actually consist of 4 separateLED panels. 2 smaller screens with high resolution and 2 largre screens with lower resolution.

ScreenConfigComparisonTA

Screen Configuration at Mall Taman Anggrek LED Billboard. Image courtesy of Toge Productions

Before we got on board with the project, most of the content shown in the LED Billboard were either videos or images. Iris often created and rendered 4 different videos for each segment of the LED Billboard. When viewed together, it appears as a seamless video. But the creation of these videos can take days. This approach can clearly not be used for interactive content.

Iris once tried to make the screen interactive for their “ASK TAMI” campaign in 2012, but they faced a lot of technical challenges that were left unresolved.

In early 2013 they decided to attempt another interactive wall campaign, to take it to the next level. And to overcome the technical challenges, Iris asked for our help. Our company is a small independent game development studio. We work on our own game projects. We don’t usually accept work for hire, but this project got our interest because it’s cool and unique.

Q. As I gather from your blog, your initial ambition was to create an interactive humans vs. zombies multiplayer game on the screen. However, you finally decided to simplify it a lot. What do you think could be done improve the gameplay and to make the experience last longer for passers-by?

A. Most of the “players” or audience right now are in a car passing the mall. They only have a few minutes to understand what is going on with the screen. This is why we decided to reduce the concept to its essence. We want people to understand the concept and play with the screen as quickly as possible.

We are going to work on a companion mobile app with a lot of cool new stuff in it. We would also love to add a few mini-games and more interactions on the LED Screen.

Q. Can people inside the Mall interact with the wall?

A. Not at the moment. But that too will hopefully change once we have the companion mobile app.

Q. How did the Mall Taman Anggrek Management react to the idea?

A. They are great people to work with. They are very open to ideas and suggestions, they gave us full creative freedom, with some minor legal guidelines. It’s awesome!

Q. How long will #TAmonsters still be visible?

A. Taman Anggrek has not set any timeframe. Right now it seems it will run indefinitely.

Q. What was the most creative use from a player?

A. I would say traffic reports. Some also tried to use it as a tool to promote their twitter account or sell products. We had to remove these posts though. Most are random but funny rants.

Q. What did you do to promote the project?

A. Nothing much, only a few posters inside the mall, a few tweets and blog posts.

Q. Do you think this experiment could be the start of some more creative use of the TAMI LED wall? Is Mall Taman Anggrek open to the idea? 

A. I think there will be more cool stuff in the future!

 

The project has already won several awards at Citra Pariwara 2013, which Kris calls “The Oscars for Indonesian Advertising.”

Print

TAmonsters in action. Image courtesy of Toge Productions

 

Crocodile Pit

These are some photos taken at the “Lubang Buaya” complex in Jakarta, near the Halim Airport. An old military facility, this is said to be the site where seven high ranking Indonesian Army officials where tortured and murdered by “communist traitors” in an attempt to overthrow the government in 1965.

The memorial site consists of huts containing “relics” and life-size figures, depicting scenes of the capture and intimidation of the generals, the well into which the bodies of the generals were disposed of, the Pancasila Monument with a bas relief showing a sequence of events starting from Sukarnos presidency under the NASAKOM priciples until the handover of power to General Suharto, who later became president.

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pancasila

Pretty impressive and haunting piece of state propaganda. The whole place is designed to give you the chills and conjure a sense of indisputable “truth”. Nearby is the “Museum of Communist Treachery”. I can imagine visiting this place as a child can have a long lasting traumatizing effect.

 

Wiji Thukul – aku diburu pemerintahku sendiri

Tempo magazine last week brought out a special about the poet and activist Wiji Thukul, who “disappeared” in 1998 along with 12 other activists. Thukul is still missing until today. The magazine included a booklet with some of his poems. I’m sure they have been translated to English and Dutch before, but I could not find one in German. So here is my go at one of the poems I liked most: aku diburu pemerintahku sendiri

 

aku diburu pemerintahku sendiri

Ich werde von meiner eigenen Regierung gejagt
als trüge ich
eine gefährliche Krankheit in mir

Ich bin nun ein Gesetzesbrecher
Doch gegen das Gesetz einer Regierung zu verstoßen
die tyrannisch ist
ist kein Fehler
Selbst wenn sie mich hineinwerfen
in eins ihrer Gefängnisse

Nun liege ich rücklings
auf der Ladefläche eines LKWs
der sehr schnell vorankommt
Tasche und Handrücken
stützen mich als Kissen

ich nehme
die Frische der Nachtluft in mir auf
der Himmel ist ganz klar
von Millionen von Sternen

ehrlich
erst heute Nacht
sind meine Lungen auf diese Weise frei

Die Nacht ist ganz klar
wie meine Gedanken
Obwohl die Mächtigen planen
alles aufzuwühlen

Doch wer schafft es
die Ruhe der Sterne zu stören?

 

Indonesian original by Wiji Thukul

aku diburu pemerintahku sendiri
layaknya aku ini
penderita penyakit berbahaya

aku sekarang buron
tapi jadi buron pemerintah yang
lalim
bukanlah cacat
pun seandainya aku dijebloskan
ke dalam penjaranya

aku sekarang terlentang
di belakang bak truk
yang melaju kencang
berbantal tas
dan punggung tangan

kuhisap dalam-dalam
segarnya udara malam
langit amat jernih
oleh jutaan bintang

sungguh
baru malam ini
begitu merdeka paru-paruku

malam sangat jernih
sejernih pikiranku
walau penguasa hendak
mengeruhkan
tapi siapa mampu mengusik
ketenangan bintang-bintang?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harlem Cake

Last night I took my new camera out for the first time.  Of course I hadn’t familiarized myself with anything, so I just put it to automatic mode and snapped away (= mostly blurry photos, must do better next time)

This is what happened at Paola’s birthday party in Jakarta, Febuary 22, 2013.

Some of it.

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Needless to say, I wasn’t the most popular party guest. I was the creepy person taking candid shots. Thanks everyone, what a crowd!

Oh, this also happend:

I stole the title “Harlem Cake” from him.

All photos by @texastee

 

 

V-Day #1billionrising in Jakarta

 

dance

We danced. For women, against violence, for equality, against discrimination, or something.

strikedancerise

Strike, dance, rise.

dinda

Dinda.

jump

Jump!

bestdancer

She was the best dancer.

organizer

The organizer took a minute to smile at me before an interview.

mardiyah

Ibu Mardiyah Chamim.

metrotevcrew

Metro TV crew.

friends

Friends.

nophoto

She did not want to be photographed.

riders

These guys rolled up.

sketch

He was sketching.

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Rainbow dancers.

peacocks

We met in the crowd, smiled at each other, took this photo and each went our way.

posing

Pose!

rainbow

<3

strikeandsmile

Strike, dance and rise.

rise

strike

 

All photos by @texastee at V-Day Jakarta

 

Some nights and days of rain

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Took these on my way to work today, ca. 9am. Bunderan HI and Menteng area.

<Edit: this is just in my area, which can be considered the central business hub of Jakarta with the main roads and office towers. Now wading knee deep in water and watching traffic chaos unfold may make it sound like fun rather than a real disaster, but other areas were far worse hit, with entire streets drowned, houses flooded and electricity shut off.>

 

Killing The Act of Killing

<Update> Later in the afternoon, shortly after a piece about the matter appeared in the online version in the English language paper Jakarta Globe, both sites were accessible again. At this point I don´t know the reason why exactly the sites were down in Indonesia. The change.org petition is still up and running. Maybe it should be changed to petition Menkominfo to actually watch the film?

 

 

Looks like it is starting: the websites of the film “The Act of Killing” as well as the film production company behind it  (Edit: “Jagal” is the Indonesian title) Jagalfilm.com, can no longer be accessed (from Indonesia)

Joshua Oppenheimer, the film´s director, tweets on Fr. January 11

 

Director Joshua Oppenheimer first asked followers to test from various devices and locations, and two days later, on Sunday, January 13 at 16:01 WIB Detik.net came out with an article opening up speculation about who might be behind the blocking.

Here is my rough translation of that article:

 

Has the website of the controversial film “The Act of Killing” been blocked?

Ardhi Suryadhi – detikinet

Jakarta – the site that hosts the controversial film ‘The Act of Killing’ by Joshua Oppenheimer is reportedly not accessible any more. After it has been tested from various providers, it seems like the site at http://theactofkilling.com/ is no longer online as it should be.

This is what the filmmaker, Joshua Oppenheimer states: “Interesting. Many report that the site #TheActofKilling/#Jagal can not be accessed without redirection via a proxy” he writes on twitter.

“It seems that http://jagalfilm.com & http://theactofkilling.com can no longer be acessed from Indonesia. Who did this?,” Oppenheimer continues.

Besides the director, other twitterers directed questions regarding the unavailability of the website of the film that was screened at Toronto Film Festival towards the Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Tifatul Sembiring.

“Hey Mr. @tifsembiring, why can´t the website of the act of killing not be opened? What´s wrong? Is this on purpose?” asks another twitterer.

“If this happened on the order of Menkominfo, they have to explain their reasons. Thus far, blocking is only allowed for porn sites, gambling and blasphemy,” says Megi Margiyono, a cyber law specialist from Indonesia Online Advocacy (IDOLA)

The film The Act of Killing’  that was shown at Toronto Film Festival tells the story of the situation after the “30 September 1965 movement”. It shows the involvement of Medan youth in the killings of suspected PKI members.

In the film, one of the executioners is Anwar Congo. Anwar confesses that he was involved in the killings, but because the situation was dangerous. He reasons that if at that time he had not killed PKI members, he himself would have been killed.

 

 

Response by MenKomInfo appeared on br68h.com as of SUNDAY, 13 JANUARY 2013 20:19

Here is my rough translation of that article:

Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (Kominfo) denies blocking the website of „The Act of Killing“

KBR68H, Jakarta – The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (Kominfo) denies having blocked access to the website of „The Act of Killing“. The speaker of the Ministry, Gatot S Dewabroto, claims not to know that the website of the film that sparked controversy can not be accessed by the public.

„I did not know about this, I have not even seen the film, we are also not aware that the site has been shut down. We always inform the public in a formal procedure if there is a site which we shut down. This means, we would for sure come out with a public report.”

The website of the film The Act of Killing cannot be accessed in Indonesia. The director, Joshua Oppenheimer, questioned the shutting down of the site via twitter. This question was then taken up by other twitter users, and directed to the account of the Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Tifatul Sembiring.

The film that was screened at Toronto Film Festival tells the story after the „30 September 1965 Movement“. The film shows the way members of the Communist Party Indonesia (PKI) were killed by activists of the Pemuda Pancasila (Pancasila Youth) in Medan.

 

 

Soon after, a change.org petition was started by  Megi Margiyono, asking the govt to explain / take a position on the speculation of the site blocking

Here is my rough translation of that petition:

Petitioning Mr. Tifatul Sembiring, Minister of Communication and Information Technology of the Republic of Indonesia

Menkominfo (The Ministry) has to explain the blocking of the websites www.jagalfilm.com and www. Theactofkilling.com

Arbitrary blocking of websites violates human rights, specifically the right to freedom of expression and the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds.

To: Mr. Tifatul Sembiring, Minster of Communication and Information Technology, and Head of PR Mr. Gatot S Dewo Broto
With respect,

 

Since January 12 2013, internet users in Indonesia are no longer able to access the websites jagafilm. Com and theactofkilling.com. Both sites are used to promote the documentary film with the title “The Act of Killing”, with the Indonesian title “Jagal”. The film is a documentary about Anwar Kongo, a personality that became the executioner of people suspected of being members of the Communist Party Indonesia (PKI) in 1965. The film by Joshua Oppenheimer is of great historical importance, and is very useful in creating awareness about human rights in Indonesia.

There are suspicions that the two sites have been blocked by several Internet Service Providers (ISP), so that the websites cannot be accessed from Indonesia. The problem is that there is no transparency about the blocking of sites in Indonesia so that the public does not know which sites are being blocked. This is the same for the owner of the sites, they are also not being told about their sites being blocked.

The practice of blocking and filtering in Indonesia does not adhere to the principles of transparency and due process of law. (The Ministry) never provides information to the community about which sites are and will be blocked. In addition, the blocking procedure (in Indonesia) does not follow a formal legal process through a court order. Not only that, even the criteria for content to be blocked are increasingly unclear. Initially, the only content that can be blocked are pornography and gambling. Then, content containing blasphemy (Blasphemy) could also be blocked. Now, it seems content containing political material such as films about 1965 can also be blocked.

We are worried that blocking without clear criteria, without a procedure that is following basic rules, and without transparency about the list of sites that are being blocked will give rise to e regime of internet censorship in Indonesia. If this happens, we are in the middle of a serious threat towards the freedom of the internet.

So we are asking you to explain whether it is true jagalfilm.com and theactofkilling.com have been blocked by the government? If it is true, what is the legal basis for the blocking of those sites?

 

Sincerely,
[Your name]

 

3 Month Work Summary

A little over 3 months at Goethe-Institut.The job has been colorful and exciting so far. What else to expect when the “products” you work on are language classes, concerts, performances, exhibitions, festivals, workshops and creative competitions and the people you’re surrounded with are teachers, writers, filmmakers, illustrators, dancers and musicians. Yea… it´s kind of cool.

From the very first job interviews, it was clear that as PR Coordinator (my official job title) I would have to be Jill-of-all-Trades. They wanted a person who would manage classic PR work that comes along with a cultural institution, but, specifically, to take the online activities of the GI Indonesia to the next level.

It’s obvious why a strong online presence is of importance in a country like Indonesia. Adoption rates of social networking sites and mobile internet have been phenomenal, with Indonesia present in the Top 10 tweeting cities worldwide with not 1, but 2 cities – Jakarta leading and surprise candidate Bandung wedged between New York and Paris.

Image courtesy of semiocast.com

Also, Indonesia’s island geography and weak transportation infrastructure makes it particularly difficult for people from remote parts of the country to take part in cultural activities in the capital or other big cities. All the more important to reach out and offer opportunities online.

What I found. Assessing the situation

Goethe-Institut is, per definition, a network organization with establishments all over the world. It is partly funded by the German government, yet an independent entity. It additionally acquires financial help from the private sector and public funds. While the headquarter in Munich offers resources and guidelines, the sister institutions abroad have a lot of individual freedom in executing and documenting their activities.

When the GIs in the SEA region saw the need to quickly get active in social media in order to keep up with their audience, this, unsurprisingly, led to the mushrooming growth of various facebook pages, groups, profiles, blogs and twitter accounts to fulfill immediate needs. There was little time to devise any overall strategy or coordinated effort. I believe many institutions with a similar network setup such as the GI will find themselves in this situation.

In my first discussion with the team (meaning everyone that administers, or engages with, one or more of our many many social media outlets), I actually found an impressively deep understanding of social space, of the benefits and possible pitfalls of “conversation” rather than providing information, and a general positive and open attitude towards “social “channels.

While there were a lot of great individual efforts, the main problem I saw was the inconsistency with which content was offered, the lack of a structured approach in working together as a team, and the lack of, or not yet identified need for measurable goals.

Developing goals

In our first workshops as a team, we talked about the overall goals for the social media activities for each of the departments. Why did we think we need to be active here? What kinds of conversations were we hoping for? Would we be using social media as replacement for some other form of communication, for example ticket reservation via email?

As the result of the workshop we were left with three main goals, which now serve as guiding principlse until the next assessment.

Goal 1 “engagement” – being social as a goal in itself

As a non-profit and unlike a company with a physical product, our “product” is experience – something intangible and certainly difficult to measure in hard numbers. Our products: learning the German language, experiencing art in all forms, taking in literature or other media content, happens as a result of people interacting with each other. It dawned on us that, when culture is your product,  facilitating conversations is a strong goal in itself. This means that – perhaps more so than in the social media channels of commercial brands – we are allowed to pat our backs with a growing number of fans and conversations. And Goethe-Insitut’s slogan “language, culture, germany” makes a pretty good guideline for the content mix.

Measurement: growing number of fans/followers, increasing  interactions

Goal 2 promoting events

Looking at the number of signups for the language classes and at the number of visitors to most of our events, we can say: this is looking good. Since the institute is the venue for most events and language courses, there is a natural capacity limit. And the language classes as well as events are usually full, if not overbooked. This puts us in the luxurious position of not really having to use social media to promote anything – but we sure could use it to make event promotion and registration more efficient. Especially for larger events that do not take place in our house, we need to be able to pull a larger crowd. We need to start using online ticketing, which simplifies the process, and gives us an idea ahead of how popular the event is going to be. The next opportunity to introduce social media promotion and e-ticketing is coming up in October, so we’ll definitely be testing it out soon.

Measurement: sign ups through social media, incl. measuring effectiveness of individual channels

Goal 3: Virtual / real interaction

The final goal is related to the first, but goes further. Ultimately, our online presences should be able to offer genuine online experiences for those not physically able to attend, and it should offer “real” value. While the language department is leading the way in the form of offering online classrooms and German language-learner communities, the culture and information/library departments still need to figure out which formats and topics are most meaningful to their audiences. On the long run, I want to use social media to create windows of opportunity for dedicated individuals to get involved with GI’s program from far away: this could take the shape of having smaller remote cities “apply” for hosting cultural activities, which would then be brought there by GI, or regularly inviting interested people from further away to see cultural events produced by the GI. Creating campaigns around “city battles” or invitations to events will also help increase visbility and number of fans and followers.

Measurement: usage/readership of online products, impact and participation during social media ‘campaign’ periods

Implementation

While coming up with grand goals is comparatively easy, implementing the processes to achieve those goals is the challenge. We have to take into account the different experience levels of the team with social media and its tools, as well as the “heritage” of social media routines that have evolved in the past.

These are roughly the steps I took in the past month to steer softly in the direction of where we want to be heading.

3 months (May – July) Framewok for consistency

In order to work together towards a shared goal we needed to establish a sense of being a team first. We rounded up all people with access to and active roles on any of our social media outlets, branded them the “social media team” and set up a weekly meeting.

We invented new gimmicky roles among us, such as the “wearer of the twitter hat” for someone responsible for managing interactions, keeping up with the stats, assigning tweets, and live-tweeting from events in a given week.

The twitter hat is an actual paper hat with a twitter bird on it, intended to make it’s wearer feel self-conscious and awkward, meaning they won’t forget about the tasks they have that week

We invented the “facebook gardener” for someone whose responsibility it is to tend for a particular facebook page or group.I find that using playful images such as these helps people identify with the role and makes the tasks that come along with it come naturally. Of course – the gardener “weeds out” bad comments, highlights particularly interesting posts, decides which posts go where etc.

Also, in order to understand how we were tweeting and who was tweeting, (all sharing one twitter account, @gi_indonesien) we decided to start using initials after each tweet. Although it sounds like a clumsy workaround and a waste of characters, it has helped us learn from each other, avoid double tweeting and improve the quality of our answers to our followers.

In another step towards consistency, (still work in progress) we are streamlining the content flow from one channel to the other, and developing unique but consistent ways of writing for facebook and twitter.

Spending some time on building the team and workflows was important: to have a strong team that knows how to hold effective meetings, how to formulate goals and move towards them, is at the basis of everything…

6 months (August – October) – Increasing quality with tools, measuring effectiveness

In the coming three months, I want to focus on increasing the the number of interactions, keep a stronger focus on stats and implement  more advanced tools such as e-ticketing for a pilot event and working with a contest app for a photo competition engagement campaign. Starting in September, I will also focus building 2 “communities within the Goethe community”.  One is targeting German-Language-learners in South East Asia. The other is the already existing comiconnexions platform for comic/graphic novel fans, which needs to go into phase 2.

Lastly, we will start setting the necessary internal foundations (commitment, timeframe, budget…) to work towards goal 3.

 

Tiny Carbon Footprints in the Sand

Pulau Macan – Working towards a small “sustainable” island community

Part of what I love about living in Indonesia is that I have friends here who have created unconventional careers for themselves. One of these friends is Roderick, he runs a small Eco-Resort on a tiny island just 1.5 hours off the Jakarta harbor.

This island, Pulau Macan or Tiger Islands, is a speck in the clutter of islands called “Thousand Islands“. In reality, there are about 120. Less than 10 of them have tourist resorts on them, most of them are uninhabited, and some of them have larger island populations of up to a couple of thousand people. Even though they are easily accessible by speedboat from Jakarta for a weekend trip, they have not been that popular with tourists.

Some of these islands are privately “owned” (long-term-leased from the government) oftentimes by wealthy businesspeople who rarely ever make it out to “their” island and usually have a caretaker family looking after it. Tiger Island is one of those islands, it´s owner however agreed to let my friend Roderick rent and manage the island into an Eco-Resort that would be attractive enough for tourists from Jakarta.

This was about 4 years ago, and Tiger Island is now mostly booked out during weekends with a capacity of up to 40 people, and is still quite busy during weekdays. In these years, Pulau Macan has evolved from a tiny island with a few run-down buildings on it into a beautiful weekend getaway for the eco-conscious, with a form of open air lab for green technologies attached.

On my last visit I asked Drigo to give me a tour of the status quo of the island´s eco technologies.

Energy

The island was dependant on importing gasoline from the mainland or other islands in order to power its generator. Importing gallons of gasoline on boats which in turn run on gasoline is, as one can imagine, costly and ineffective. This may have been ok when there was only one family living, but would become increasingly more difficult with more and more guests visiting the island.

One of the major improvements for the island was the investment in a “stand alone” solar panel system which charges up batteries when the sun is bright and makes this energy available at night and on overcast days.

Solar panels on jetty

To install the system was not cheap, but since it offers a  free source of energy and the technology is guaranteed for up to 10 years, it can be easily calculated that the investment pays back.

The "battery pack". Excess energy is stored during the day, converted and released by night if needed

The island requires about 200 Watts of energy during the day, this mainly to run kitchen appliances such as the fridge, and 1000 watts at night, when all lights are on.

Currently 80% of the island´s energy needs can be covered by the solar panels. The rest still needs to be supplemented by generator. A way of improving this might be the successive exchange of energy saving lightbulbs to LED and the installment of an additional power source such as a wind turbine. Or simply more solar panels?

Water

The other major issue on the island is water. This encompasses the freshwater needed for drinking, showering and washing, as well as the management of wastewater on the island.

Rainwater collecting system

Like gasoline, fresh and drinking water needs to be imported from the main land or neighboring islands. Pulau Macan does not have a well.

Bamboo pipe system drains rainwater off roofs and filters it into a large container

To ease the need for expensive water, a simple rain water collecting system was installed. Basically rain is cought in drainage pipes off the roofs of the larger buildings. The water is transportet through an above-ground bamboo piping system and filtered into a large drum. However, in the process the water picks up particles from the bamboo and disintegrating leaves, so that the water is eventually not clean enough to supply guest huts, due to brownish color that is in itself not harmful but looks unhealthy.

The rainwater collected is momentarily used for watering the island and cleaning around the house and boats.

Right now, only a small percentage of potential rain water is collected, which makes sense since its use is so limited. Fresh water still needs to be imported for drinking, cooking and showering. If a way was found of storing more and cleaner rainwater, this might reduce the need for the island to import fresh water significantly.

Wastewater management

The water from showers and sinks is captured, filtered, and reused for watering the gardens. This requires the use of biodegradable, non-harmful chemicals in soaps, shampoos and detergents.

The toilets don´t factor into the use of fresh water, because they flush with salt water from the sea.

Most of the wastewater from the toilets is captured in septic tanks. One pilot toilet so to speak, has a more sophisticated “artificial wetland” attached to it.

artificial wetlands - here saltwater version with baby mangroves

In this system, the (salty) wastewater seeps through a series of gravel/sand/coral/pineleaves filled tanks, and on top of these mangrove plants grow, freeing the water from some of the harmful nutrients before the waste water seeps back out into the sea.

Ecology

Compost and Gardens

Kitchen wastes are composted in deisgnated areas around the island.  This compost is used in the gardens…

..

Growing some aloe vera, chillies and papaya

… however, the gardens are still the problem child of the island, at is has been very difficult to grow anything substantial so far, most likely due to the overall high salinity of the soil or an acidity problem which might stem from the many pineleaves from surrounding trees.

Compost pit and chicken playground

The compost pits are a favorite with the island chicken, which roam around freely and dig happily in the dirt. Their job is to hunt for worms and centipedes, which can become a nuisance if they have no natural enemy. Some mice were also introduced to the island to help with the hunt for centipedes. The mice in turn are hunted by the local monitor lizard and some hawks and owls.

Driftwood

A lot of dirftwood reaches the thousand islands, and Roderick and his team occasionally collect driftwood on the beaches of the neighboring islands.

Roderick on a pile of wood

A lot of the island furniture is made out of the driftwood that finds its way there. It makes the interior of each hut unique, like in this beautiful open air, ocean facing coral hut.

Some ideas

Pulau Macan is not a zero-carbon footprint self-sustainable miracle yet. But I do find 80% of energy use from solar pretty impressive. I guess made possible by the fact that very little energy is needed, especially during the day.

Some ideas are floating around, still waiting to be imeplemented and tested.

1. Would planting in a greenhouse environment lead to better results? The soil might be healthier, and pine leaves would be kept out. Should be easy to try on a small scale.

2. A fish farm would be an obvious asset. Right now fish is bought on farms on neighboring islands. Fishing in the waters surrounding the islands is not advisable, since they are already largely overfished.

3. Windturbine to assist the solar panels. There´s always a nice breeze.

4. Of course: algae farm. As additional food source and fertilizer? Or even energy source?

5. Live there? The obvious major flaw to the eco-conscious mind is that you still need to get out there, usually on a gas-eating speedboat. Yea, you could sail, but this takes too long for a weekend trip. Of course living there longer term and cutting back on the number of trips to the mainland would help. 3G connection is pretty stable…