Post B – Waste Not, Want Not

The small Japanese town of Kamikatsu, has received inclusive acknowledgement for their extensive recycling effort and commitment to reaching ‘Zero Waste’ status by 2020. From a town where open burning and dumping on farms and mountains, were the most common systems of waste management, now only 20 percent of their waste reaches landfills, while the other 80 percent is responsibly recycled (Eppenbach, 2016).

Zero Waste is the vision to build a society that enjoys a sustainable rubbish-free lifestyle, with no need for incineration or landfill (Sakano, 2015). The ‘Zero Waste’ policy was first developed in 2003 as an interdisciplinary initiative, whereby Kamikatsu exchanged its infamous practice of incineration for a much more environmentally aware sanitation program, in fear of endangering the future of both the environment and the population. Similar to Hino City, a suburb in Tokyo, that implemented a ‘No Waste’ campaign in 2000 to challenge an area with one of the worst recycling rates in Japan (Hill, 2011).

“We are trying to focus more and totally change our lifestyles,” says Akira Sakano, co-founder of the Zero Waste Academy, a non-profit organisation that was established in 2005, as a monitor towards Kamikatsu’s sustainability goals. The Academy also hosts an “Experience ‘Kamikatsu’ Programme” where each year, around 2500 local and foreign visitors are educated on the principles of living a ‘Zero Waste’ lifestyle.

Sonae Fujii of the Zero Waste Academy in Kamikatsu stands next to containers filled with waste ready for recycling at the Hibigaya Waste Station. Photograph: Robert Gilhooly

Recycling is now a streamlined process, which the community of 1700, meticulously wash and sort their recyclables into 34 separate categories. A report by The Christian Science Monitor, has likened the town’s waste to an “outdoor filing cabinet”, being the largest of its kind, internationally. What might already seem like a time-consuming and tedious task, the residents also have to transport it to the recycling centre themselves where workers make sure that the waste goes into the correct bins.

A resident divides up her bottles into clear, brown and other coloured bottles at the waste disposal site. Photograph: Robert Gilhooly

Like recycling, reuse is also highly encouraged in Kamikatsu. There is a shop known as a “circular” or a “kuru-kuru” where residents can trade used items for new ones, at no extra costs. And a factory, where unwanted items are repurposed into bags and clothes.

“If you get used to it, it becomes normal,” a Kamikatsu resident said in a YouTube documentary made by Seeker Stories, “It can be a pain, and at first we were opposed to the idea. Now I don’t think about it. It’s become natural to separate the trash correctly.”

Similar to Kamikatsu, cities around the world are also on their way to accomplishing ‘Zero Waste’ eminence. For example, San Diego recently proclaimed to reduce 75 percent of its waste by 2030 and become completely waste-free  by 2040 (Environmental Services Department, 2015).

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(POST D) Against the grain: Indonesian Punks

A mosh pit at a Marjinal show. Photo: Karli Kk Munn

You might be surprised to know that Indonesia has one of the largest thriving punk scenes in the world. After spending a few days in Indonesia it doesn’t take long to notice teenagers and young adults wearing band t-shirts, jackets covered with patches and black skinny jeans. At its core, punk is all about the raw energy and passion that comes from resisting the tight grips of generic society, politics and capitalism with a strong DIY focus. For many locals the punk lifestyle is a form of self-expression and rebellion again social norms in an often-conservative society.

Punk rose to its prominence in Indonesia in the 1990’s under the nose of Suharto’s New Order through the mass circulation of cassette tapes of bands such as Green Day, Nirvana and Bad Religion. The government took little notice of the growing DIY punk community at the time seeing it as a harmless distraction for the teenagers. What the New Order didn’t realise was that punk made the youth of Indonesia politically aware. It was a loud collective voice protesting the social and political injustices caused by the government through songs, concerts, art and zines. Activism and mounting pressure by the younger generations of Indonesians finally pushed Suharto to end his authoritarian reign in 1998.

Since then the punk scene has flourished and diversified with bands such as Marjinal and Superman Is Dead. Some fundamentalist would even say that fashion punks who simply dress and pose without understanding or contributing to the culture have commercialized it.

In Australia we often take our freedom of self-expression for granted. More often then not we can say what we want, subscribe to ideologies and dress however we feel without the fear of persecution and ridicule. Unfortunately, in recent years punk culture has come under heavy fire from the Indonesian government. The deputy mayor of Aceh province described punk as “the new social disease”. Aceh is the only province in Indonesia, which falls under strict Sharia law, imposed after the devastating Tsunami that washed through the city of Banda Aceh in 2004.

In 2011 a group of 64 youth were arrested after attending an open-air charity punk concert. Whilst they had not committed any crimes, punk was and is seen as immoral in the eyes of Sharia law. The punks were held captive for ten days of “re-education” being forced to shave their hair, remove their piercing and pray for hours. Yudi one of the arrested punks says the government see the ideology of punk as a threat, often looking for opportunities to persecute and harass individuals such as when poser punks commit crimes and violent acts. He believes the actions of a minority don’t represent the whole community.

Indonesian Sharia Stronghold 'Rehabilitates' Punks
A police officer lecturing detained punks. Photo: Chairdeer Mahyuddin
Indonesian Sharia Stronghold 'Rehabilitates' Punks
A punk’s shoes in police school mosque. Photo: Chaideer Mahyuddin

It takes courage and guts to be yourself, to stand up for something you believe in and question the system. Despite clashing with authorities punk is a universally resilient sub culture, which will continue to thrive for many years to come. The raw passion in the punk lifestyle and music should inspire us to open our minds and make change by doing.

Reference List:

Munn, Kk. K. 2014, Indonesian punk: PUNK’S NOT DEAD!, Radio National, ABC, viewed 24 March 2016, < >.

Larsson, M. 2014, Punk Vs. Sharia, Vice News, viewed 24 March 2016, < >.

Dunn, K. 2013, One punk’s travel guide to Indonesia, Razor Cake, Los Angeles, viewed 24 March 2016, < >.

*Images have been linked to original source and photographers credited*



Salas in his personal garden

Salas is a farmer residing in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, working and living on the permaculture farm; Bumi Langit. I had the pleasure of meeting with him as he taught us about the design system and social design principles which make up the foundation of permaculture farming. Permaculture is a system of agriculture based on a functional approach to design where the use of ecological principles and balanced landscape patterns provide diverse ecosystems where food can grow naturally. (Holmgren, D. 2002)

The growing of plants in soil

It is stated that the development of sustainable strategies for the management of dry lands is one of our most urgent global needs (Mollison, B. 1988) and permaculture farming is one of these sustainable strategies. This was reinforced by Salas as he told the story of how the owners came to farm on the land. In 2006 the soil was so hard they could hardly grow anything yet just thirty years prior in 1970, the land was “full of water and the soil was so very fertile.” It had gone hard as the previous owners instilled farming techniques from the government where they “introduce pesticides and farmers become lazy and the soil becomes more damaged and farming becomes more expensive. Overtime they want to plant more but they need a new pesticide and the price goes up, so the farmer becomes a slave of the government.” This exact type of “government farming” is what is causing unsustainable and unusable land. Permaculture farming “brought life back to the land in a slow process but now thrives.” By teaching and practicing permaculture design; they hope to resolve this issue of chemical pesticides and degradation of land.

Salas showing us his plants

Salas provided an extremely in-depth discussion as I asked about the amount of white rice that is consumed in Indonesia. He understands that people “know you have to eat the rice or eat the vegetables but you never identify what kind of rice you have to eat, what kind of vegetables you have to eat. They [the supermarkets] don’t explain it in a clear way.” He believes we are misinformed in our knowledge of foods and the only way to rectify such is to educate the people which is what he believes permaculture farms have the ability to do; just by understanding the beauty of its system. Salas was extremely passionate about his choice of lifestyle as I asked him what he eats and his response was “I eat what I grow on this farm as I am responsible and know it is all clean, all organic.” I think the most interesting thing I learnt was how naturally the system worked as he shows us his garden where “this carnivorous attracting flower is planted next to an omnivore attracting vegetable so that the bugs are naturally repelled.” I found it extremely purposeful that within the system of permaculture the output of one component provides the resources for another and no component is included unless it has more than one function.(Mollison, B. 1988)

This is considered a good plant as bugs eating plants is natural and we should only want to eat natural.

Salas’ passion and dedication to his permaculture farming was extremely insightful and by the end of the interview I was convinced and ready to move onto the farm. Whilst he doesn’t push for anyone to do anything, he believes that through education people can make their own choices and permaculture farming “is the life they want to choose as a free person and it does the most good for our land.”


Multiple Authors. 2015, Permaculture Design, Australia, viewed April 6th <>

Mollison, B. 1988, Permaculture: a designer’s manual, Rundles PublishingAustralia.

Holmgren, D. 2002, Permaculture, Permanent Publishers, Australia

*I have an audio recording of Salas giving his consent for this interview and the information he shared to be included in research and on this blog. This can be made available upon request.

**All photographs in this post were taken by the author.

Post D: Pride or Remorse? The dark past of Indonesia revealed in “The Act of Killing”

The genocide of Communists (or suspected Communists) in Indonesia in 1965 forms the subject of Oppenheimer’s 2012 documentary “The Act of Killing”. Its objective is not only to confront Indonesian ‘official history’, still resonant with anti communist prejudices, but also to explore the ‘humanity’ of the perpetrators. Instead of relating historical events or presenting the victim’s perspectives, it follows the daily lives of the Indonesian Death squad members in the present day. Oppenheimer presents the perpetrators in particular, Anwar Congo (who lead the death squad) to give the viewer an insight into the motivation of the killings and the dominant socio-political influences.

Political motivation is often mentioned throughout the personal interviews with the death squad members. Oppenheimer asks the members to re-enact the killings that took place. The members are keen to do so in order to recreate a visual history of Indonesia’s past. The sense of loyalty towards the political party prevails, despite the reality of manslaughter, and has blinded the members and instilled them with such a deep patriotic view they were (and arguably still are) unable to reconcile that their actions were criminal: “Deep inside I was proud because I killed the communist who looked so cruel in the film”(Oppenheimer, 2012). Not only were the descriptions of the killings vivid in terms of verbatim descriptions from the members as they describe throwing bodies off rivers “like parachutes” but the re-enactment in different genres leaves the viewer with a sense of unease. The disjointed narrative jumps from genre to genre, depicting brutal torture and killing scenes in a mafia style and then suddenly transitioning incongruously to the musical genre with elaborate dancing numbers. 

Arguably the documentary challenges the viewer by showcasing Indonesia’s past from a radically different perspective and also a rather emotional one from the antagonists’ perspective. Whilst the members are being interviewed by the Dialog Interview Show they state, “young people must remember their history” (Oppenheimer, 2012).  Seemingly the members show no remorse (other than the occasional mention of being haunted by the killings in their dreams) and justify their actions. It is not until the end of the film, Anwar revisits one of the sites of torture and he is shown on camera regretting his actions – he is so affected that he begins throwing up on the site. Interestingly the last filmic scene where Anwar is depicting a dying communist being tortured about to have his head sliced off with silver wire is where he states “I felt like I was dead for a moment” (Oppenheimer, 2012).


Anwar Congo, re-enacting a torture scene as a victim. (Oppenheimer, J. 2012)

As the film’s primary aim is to educate Indonesian people about their past, it is pivotal to gauge the response of the Indonesian people. When the film was screened at Yogyakarta the responses were mixed. One infuriated audience member suggested: “An alternative title of the film would be A Celebration of Killing. (The Guardian, 2014)”.  He felt that the depiction glorified the murderers and there was nothing funny about these events. Another audience member, an academic who was a political prisoner and suffered brutal atrocities was ‘profoundly touched’ and felt it was imperative for younger generations to see this and to establish a society with sharply contrasting values. (The Guardian, 2014)

Overall Oppenheimer creates a highly engaging piece by turning our expected notions of a documentary upside down creating a disjointed narrative taking us on a rollercoaster of emotional turmoil. Oppenheimer presents the killers in a highly unorthodox manner- by allowing them freedom to present their perspective in order to allow their  ‘humanity to be seen’. Above all, it compels them to look at their acts. As with his juxtaposition of film genres, Oppenheimer questions the good vs. evil rhetoric in films by ultimately depicting that despite their justification, the killers repent their actions. At the core, Oppenheimer elucidates that it is too glib to think these perpetrators were all fiends, it is more socially relevant to understand they are people who are capable paradoxically of both evil and goodness and that social structures may contort even the most heinous act into a justifiable one.  The controversial approach to such a serious topic, has elicited a global conversation –as Bob Mandello states The Act of Killing is “a virtually unprecedented social document” (The Verge, 2015).  The film has universally amplified the issue, so much so, that Indonesia cannot continue to present a benign version of history.


(Oppenheimer, J. 2012)


Bjerregaard, M. 2014, . Available: 28].

Oppenheimer, J. 2012, The Act of Killing.

Zelenko, M. 2015, . Available: 28].

HOUSE OF LAWE: empowering women through design {Post C}

The emancipation of women has been extensively recognised as a central goal in international development, in an interview with Fitria Werdiningsih from House of Lawe, we can see just one example of how the empowerment of women through financial liberty is aiding the goal of international development.

House of Lawe is a community social enterprise based in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, that transform traditional hand-woven fabrics into functional products while aiming to contribute to the empowerment of women. All products are designed and produced in traditional Indonesian hand-woven fabrics, and sold both locally and internationally in the US and Japan. Not only are products sold for income, but House of Lawe also has a “Craft Class” initiative, which, is used as a learning centre for developing traditional hand-woven handicrafts.

While it is not a new phenomenon for women in Indonesia to contribute financially to their households, House of Lawe “aims to encourage more women to do so” (Werdiningsih, F. 2016, pers. Comm., 6 April). The workshops are aimed at “empowering women, by encouraging them to, and giving them the means to earn their own income” (Werdiningsih, F. 2016, pers. Comm., 6 April). By these processes, the women who are involved in House of Lawe, are able to contribute to their households financially, substantially improving the household nutrition and raising aspirations for their children’s education.

The conservation of traditional techniques is something that House of Lawe holds as very important to them. While they use new fabrics to create their products, they are also an environmentally conscious enterprise and aim to put measures in place to counteract their environmental impact of their products. One method in which they do this is through the craft classes they run. It is through these craft classes that they aim to teach to the participants the importance of recycling; to do this, their very first crafting module is ‘How to use leftover fabric in order to create economic value’. In this module, they use left over fabrics to make patchwork toys.

House of Lawe have two separate areas they dwell in – business and social. In terms of business, House of Lawe sources “ Lurik”, a traditional Javanese hand-woven fabric; this fabric is traditionally used only for clothing and traditional ceremonies, however, House of Lawe aim to promote the development of Lurik in order to surpass traditional uses and branch out into fashion accessories such as bags, wallets, pouches, home décor and even company merchandise. In regard to their social relationship, House of Lawe “work with local communities, sharing [their] knowledge of industry, business and handicrafts in order to elevate women. [They] share technical, marketing, and entrepreneurial skills.” (Werdiningsih, F. 2016, pers. Comm., 6 April)


House of Lawe 2015, Our Work 3, viewed 6 April 2016.

House of Lawe 2015, Conserving Tradition, Empowering Women, viewed 6 April 2016, 2016, Tracing the History of Lurik Fabric, viewed 7 April 2016,

POST C: Terasmitra

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Sofia (left) & Kiki (right) from Terasmitra stall, Festival Matar Air 2016

In a country where creativity and resourcefulness overflows, it is not unusual to see a wide range of businesses throughout Indonesia; but in such abundance, how do these businesses cope with the competition? During Festival Mata Air, there were several local businesses that contributed to the festival markets; one of which was Terasmitra that was represented by two incredibly knowledgeable ambassadors, Sofia and Kiki. Terasmitra is an entrepreneurial platform for local businesses that represent four main categories in the creative industry, these are: craft, food, ecotourism and product knowledge.

This organisation the Indonesian ‘home’ and platform to local entrepreneurs “who need to market their product”. Various events such as festivals and exhibitions enables this independent organisation to promote their partner’s products as well as the underlying values of inspirations within the products. Terasmitra further develops the products of these small community-based entrepreneurs following their beneficiary grant from SGP (Small Grants Programme) Indonesia, which is under the umbrella of the Global Environmental Facility. Their partnership with various businesses throughout Indonesia has allowed them to successfully contribute in protecting the environment through local solutions and involving the surrounding community. Sofia and Kiki both agreed that currently, the main environmental issues that the country is facing would be ‘trash and air pollution’; these are also the inspiration behind Terasmitra as it focuses on sustainability and developing local technologies that are environmentally profitable. The partners of Terasmitra have been precariously sorted out through various criteria such as the social and environmental significance of the product. Resulting from this, as Sofia explains, they ‘are able to maintain the ethical values of both Terasmitra and the partners & giving the consumers the peace of mind that the products aren’t just commercial products”.

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House of Lawe (Lawe Group) ‘conserving tradition, empowering women’

One of the many advantages provided by Terasmitra is employment and the involvement of women in the working industry. Lawe Group is a partner that effectively exemplifies this, they are  a business who took inspiration from women and their concern to the dying existence of Indonesia’s traditional woven business. They aspire to bring ‘prosperity and economic wealth for Indonesian people’  through these fabrics that reflect their cultural richness. Kiki also mentioned that sewing is one of the major professions of women in this business however they are able to do their jobs at home, which also gives them the opportunity to stay with their family whilst earning an income to provide for them.

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Terasmitra products

Terasmitra has definitely created a network of creatives who are effectively beneficial to the society, economy and individually. Sofia and Kiki’s knowledge about their organisation has truly reflected their passion to the cause, products and ultimately their ideological inspirations.

House Of Lawe. 2016. House Of Lawe | Conserving Tradition Empowering Woman. [ONLINE] Available at:
TerasMitra. 2016. About – TerasMitra. [ONLINE] Available at:
TerasMitra. 2016. LAWE – TerasMitra. [ONLINE] Available at:
Higgins, A., Ossedryver, S., Villanueva, C. (2016, February 21). Personal Interview w/ Terasmitra.