At the heart of Think City, an urban regeneration organisation, is a strong, unyielding sense of community. Surrounding it are the pillars that the initiatives of the social purpose outfit are built upon, namely policy thinking, management and implementation of solutions. All these, while acting as an agent of change insofar as how cities are curated. This wholly-owned-subsidiary of Khazanah since 2009 has now partnered Hasanah on its journey to creating more liveable, resilient and people-centric cities. Since its first task of rejuvenating the historic city of George Town in Penang, its presence has since expanded to three other cities, Butterworth, Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru.
The wheels were set in motion for the formation of Dewan Ria in Lebuh Kampung Benggali, Butterworth when the Penang state government expressed interest to convert the Majlis Bandaraya Seberang Perai owned and managed multipurpose building into a digital library. A major pain point was the nearby central waste disposal depot but the project — owned and funded by Chief Minister’s Incorporated of the Penang State Government with technical support, construction consultancy and funding by Think City – overcame this challenge in creating a state-of-the-art learning centre. Two years in the making, it now comprises a double-floor library with access to journals for members, multiple rooms for seminars, study or quiet reading and an educational space complete with LED screens and AV system, available for rent. Meanwhile eco-conscious features such as high ceiling with large fans and exhaust fans, negate its need for air-conditioning.
Targeted at ASEAN citymakers and managers, Think City launched the first ever regional placemaking conference this year. The aim was to promote knowledge on best practices and encourage discourse on innovative solutions for the future of communities and public spaces. Placemaker Week ASEAN was held in George Town, Penang and Kuala Lumpur and its extension Placemaker + in Johor Bahru. Besides sharing of best practices, case studies, games and workshops, teams of urban designers, architects and planners pitched placemaking solutions to a panel based on actual locations. With a total of 400 attendees and 40 speakers from over 20 countries, the event also incorporated high level meetings attended by local authority officers and representatives from universities across the globe as well as capacity building session with international experts attended by Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur architectural, planning and landscape personnel.
A pilot social inclusion project took Think City, Citi Foundation, Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur and Yellow House to downtown KL, in a quest to identify individual solutions for beneficiaries to exit homelessness. Its mission, to connect people sleeping rough around Bangkok Bank area (a hotspot for the homeless community) with local businesses to see if mutually beneficial relationships could be created. Using a place-based approach to join forces for a common outcome, it began simply as an idea for a cleaner place to sleep. Later, the individuals were introduced to surrounding shop owners, offering cleaning services for the external areas of the shops. Of the three beneficiaries who were successfully housed and employed, two remained in employment — Nathan now works at the scrap metal plant in Kota Bharu with company-provided accommodation while Samy lives at Yellow House and works as an urban farmer at Kebun Kebun Bangsar, planting forgotten Indian heirloom vegetables and herbs.
In collaboration with the Migrant Workers Health Alliance, North South Initiative, Fire and Rescue Association, Alumni of Penang International Dental College, Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility Asia, Think City facilitated the hosting of a series of medical camps involving migrant workers, refugees and the homeless in Kuala Lumpur. 298 individuals benefited, exceeding the targeted 250. Access to health care, dental services and awareness on HIV and AIDS were primary objectives with data collection for use in future policy advocacy, secondary.
Created to empower women and girls with personal safety and security skills, the programme was organised in partnership with Citi Foundation and SheFights, an organisation provides support via training by martial arts experts. Five monthly self-defence workshops saw close to 100 attendees predominantly from the 25-34 age group. Instructors from SheFights equipped participants with the necessary skills to handle various harassment scenarios both in theory (what to do pre, during and post-harassment) and hands-on techniques. Recognising that being alert of potentially dangerous situations and trusting one’s gut was important, a sense of empowerment was expressed by participants in feedback.
© 2020 Yayasan Hasanah. All Rights Reserved.
The Hasanah Report 2019