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(Top) Three Things That Semarang Should Do For Not Loosing Its Memory

Sugeng Hartanto, Indonesia

Organizing Grantee: ICMA

YSEALI Theme: Civic Engagement

Host: City of Albany, Oregon


On my previous post, I have explained about what is the City of Albany and related communities have done to preserve historic buildings there. On this post, I will post about what my city, Semarang, can learn from Albany, specifically on preservation of historic buildings.

Just like Albany, Semarang, also has many beautiful old and historic buildings (you can watch the video on here and here), which are mostly located in the Kota Lama (Old City) area. The city government of Semarang has been and is conducting a series of attempts to revitalize the Old City. Based on what I have seen in Albany, few things that I’ve learned and I will present to my office (strategic policy of urban development, including the development and revitalization of the Old city was my office’s authority) are as follows:

1. Strengthen the Community Capacity

Albany has an independent organization that helps City government to provide input and suggestions from stakeholders for a better policy taken to preserve historic buildings. In Semarang, we have had the Old City Management Board (Badan Pengelola Kawasan Kota Lama – BPK2L), as an independent board that its members consist of citizens who are concerned about the existence of the Old City as a cultural and historic heritage that should be preserved. The main problem that is faced by the BPK2L to achieve its aims is about its capacity as an organization. BP2KL have not worked optimally yet because BPK2L have no fully authority and limitation on funding as well. Not like the Landmark Advisory Commission (LAC) in Albany, who has enough resources and sufficient authority to carry out preservation area. Strengthening the capacity of the BP2KL is a must to give them more role in the conservation and preservation of the Old City.

2. You Are Not Alone

In Albany, government involvement in all aspects of the development is not too dominant. Almost in all sectors, there are involvement of the community who helped Albany to be a city that is comfortable to live in (Albany vision of what). In Albany, community is seen as a part of the development process from planning, implementation to monitoring of the development and public services that are done by City Government. Government, private and community engaged and collaborate together to provide quality public services for a better Albany. Yes, the government is not alone. The city must involve the community, because, to be honest, not all things can be done perfectly only by the Government.

3. Event, event, and event

To attract visitors to visit Albany (and of course to their historic buildings), Albany Downtown Association (ADA) organizes various events. For example, the Movies at Monteith event which will hold in July 2015. According to the Executive Director of ADA, Rod Porsche, annual event organized by ADA can attract thousands of visitors to Albany. Their tourism activity will certainly have an impact on the economy of Albany.

This is interesting. In Semarang, we have many events and festivals that are held in the Old City area. Those are organized by the city government or the community. But it seems not able to attract more people to come, especially not able to invite tourists to come. Most of visitors of those events are the residents of Semarang. From Albany, in my opinion, I can learn here about how the community organize events in a professional manner and coordinate them with the government and with the other communities. Government and communities do not do on their own projects. So that they can invite more people.

Those are three things that I can learn from Albany in preservation of historic buildings. Of course it is not as simple as I have presented above to make Semarang Old City area become the center of activity in Semarang. We still have problem with storm water and tidal flooding. But at least those three things are things that can help revive the Old City.

kota lama

Semarang Old City and Its Event and Festival




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