One Simple Question

By Ahmad Rifai

If you could change one thing about your neighborhood, what would it be?

This question is deceptively simple it’s hard to image anyone would have a hard time responding to it. But as our team walked around Solo’s 51 neighborhoods asking this question, we found out it’s not as simple as we thought.

Particularly in poor areas, people feel reluctant to answer. They give different reasons:

“I do not have any idea, it’s better for you to ask the neighborhood leader.”

“I’m just ordinary citizen, I can’t give any comment I’m not sure I can give the correct answer.”

“Poor people, like me, will just agree with what the government says.”

“I don’t have enough knowledge to answer that so far as I can tell, this neighborhood looks good.”

Why are people reluctant to voice their opinion about their neighborhoods? From our experience in the neighborhoods, I have two ideas about this. The first is that no one has ever asked people this question before. The second is that residents do not have enough information about their neighborhood.

Since people have never been asked what they want to change, people in the neighborhood do not have the opportunity to be involved or participate in local decision-making processes. Poor people are never asked about their opinion in the neighborhoods.

This means marginalization people are excluded from neighborhood planning and the development that does happen limits them from the access, opportunity, and rights as citizens to voice their aspirations for the neighborhood.

In regards to information, there actually is a lot information available in the community, but certain people might not have enough access. This makes people unable to contribute ideas about the development of their neighborhood because they have limited knowledge and understanding of local issues.

The goal of Solo Kota Kita is to raise public awareness of urban problems, and our team is aware that it’s hard for people to say what they want to happen because of lack of access to community information. Expanding access and distributing information useful for the community is important so residents can relate their aspirations to the context of the development process and the changes that are happening in Solo. Because the information provided by Solo Kota Kita begins with the fundamental needs of society, we hope it will contribute to improving the City of Solo.

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