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Green map prepared for next year

The excitement of finding interesting places and events along Transjakarta bus corridors and train routes in Jakarta will soon be shared with the public, as volunteers from the Green Map community put the finishing touches to their latest work. The map, to be published in January, will include historical places, green spaces and neighborhoods with green activities along bus and train routes and bicycle lanes.

“We focused on these routes to encourage people to travel in more environmentally friendly ways. The traveling will also be cheap because they can just walk around the area,” Nirwono Joga, Green Map Jakarta coordinator, said Saturday after the group’s last mapping activity.

“What we want to highlight is the sustainable environment. As well as showing historical and cultural spots, we showcase places that adopt environmentally friendly practices. For instance, we show people where to go if they want to learn about composting.”

The hunt of the day uncovered not only a church in Jatinegara and a temple in Mangga Dua, but also a soup kitchen that serves free food to the poor three times a week.

The map is made possible because of 30 excited volunteers willing to walk around bus and train stations. With journalists, office workers and students among them, the volunteers said they were hooked on the task by the excitement inherent in every discovery they made.

First-time volunteer Diana Warti said she was particularly impressed with a temple she saw.

“We found a lovely temple in front of a dirty market. It was nice and the staff were really welcoming. They asked us to come in and we had a long chat with them,” said Diana, an office worker. She later found the temple ran bimonthly traditional activities such as hot oil showers and walking on hot coals. “Please tell me if there is such project again,” she beseeched the mapping organizer.

Prilia Verawati, a journalist, found the discovery of unexpectedly extraordinary people during her trips the most rewarding aspect. “There was one neighborhood where the people were so keen on improving their quality of life,” she said. “They grew herbs in their small homes, they put books on herbs and husbandry at the ojek (motorcycle taxi) stand so commuters would read them and be inspired to improve themselves during their spare time. Meeting such people in this chaotic and daunting Jakarta is heartwarming.” Nirwono said making the map gave the volunteers a reason to meet new communities — a rare chance for people who do not work outdoors. “If you go to a neighborhood for no reason, the locals get suspicious. But the volunteers do have a reason and people respond well to them,” he said.

The green map community plans to establish a foundation as its seeks sustainability, and will run a series of guided tours and workshops based on the green map. It will also work with other communities, such as the bike-to-work community and the green lifestyle community to broaden its reach. “The community was created in 2001 but was dormant in between biannual mapping projects. This time we want it to keep running because we have very positive feedback from volunteers, companies and international organizations,” Nirwono said.

In addition to Jakarta, 16 other towns across Indonesia are also being mapped in similar projects. The Green Map concept was the brainchild of Wendy Brawer and resulted in the New York Green Map in 1992. Since then, the initiative has been embraced in 53 countries, with more than 350 maps drawn up.