Planners to study development in Indonesia

Solo, Indonesia
Dennie Ramon
Victoria Beard's city and regional planning students will engage in a collaborative planning study on squatters along the Pepe River in the city of Solo, Indonesia, this winter and spring.

Victoria Beard, associate professor of city and regional planning (CRP), will be leading a new international development planning workshop in Indonesia during the spring semester. Workshop participants will engage in a collaborative planning process focused on a group of squatters along the Pepe River in the city of Solo. They will address such planning problems as affordable and secure housing, access to basic services and public space, environmental degradation, poverty and social exclusion.

“Solo is a particularly interesting city to conduct the workshop in because it has recently undergone a noteworthy planning process led by the former mayor, Joko Widodo,” Beard says.

The former mayor (commonly referred to as Jokowi), is well known for successfully relocating squatters away from another Indonesian river, the Bengawan; engaging street vendors in a relocation process; supporting traditional markets instead of developers seeking to build shopping malls; and his overall clean, transparent and participatory style of governance. He is currently the governor of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, and there is speculation that he will run for president in 2014.

“Jokowi’s decision to relocate squatters away from the Bengawan River flies in the face of what is considered ‘best practices’ in urban planning – improving housing and basic services with minimal relocation and disruption of existing social networks,” Beard says. “There are very few international examples of successfully relocating squatters, and as a starting point in the workshop, we will examine what made the Bengawan relocation effort successful.”

Over the winter break, a group of CRP students will travel to Solo to work with local collaborators, including the communities along the Pepe River, the nongovernmental organization Yayasan Kota Kita, Solo’s municipal government, and faculty and students at Atma Jaya University. Two Indonesian collaborators will travel to Ithaca to work with students during the spring semester.

“Cornell is the epicenter of Indonesian studies, and there are broad resources here that can help make this program a success,” Beard says. “Our hope is that this partnership between CRP and our Indonesian collaborators will facilitate international development planning internships for students, and exchanges of people and knowledge in both directions.”

Starting in the fall of 2014, the workshop will be taught as a yearlong class, including another trip to Indonesia over the next winter break.

The workshop has received financial support from the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, the Southeast Asia Program, the Center for Engaged Learning + Research, the Department of City and Regional Planning, and the American Institute for Indonesian Studies.

Rebecca Bowes is a writer in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning.

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