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Showing posts from February, 2010

Cleveland has thriving music scene

I recall one of the first concerts I attended in Cleveland. It was a Girl Talk show at the Grog Shop back in early 2007. Tickets were $5 and the show was my first encounter with zealous, hardcore Cleveland music fans. If I went to see Girl Talk in Los Angeles, I would have paid $30 and been mauled in a crowd of emaciated hipsters. Growing up where you can't order a cup of coffee without meeting a music producer or guitarist of an "up-and-coming" band, I noticed two defining features of Cleveland's music scene: this town boasts assorted, intimate venues, and due to six-month long weather constraints, concerts are one of the few sources of solace when it's 10 degrees out.

I admit that in moving to Cleveland I expected a dry spell in concertgoing and discovering new music. But to my overjoyed surprise, most of the bands I listen to actually stop in this city. In fact, due to the minimal prominence of hipness and trendiness in the Cleveland area, I've actually be…

Jakarta Globe: An Organic Revolution Blooms

After hearing about organic farming practices in Tasikmalaya, West Java, a skeptical young entrepreneur took a trip to the region to see the farms. When she arrived, instead of finding well-structured agricultural practices, she met desperate farmers lost in the bureaucratic scuffle of organic certification and export regulations. Inspired by their plateaued dreams, Emily Sutanto decided to take on the project as their leader.

Sutanto, the director for Bloom Agro International, was born in Indonesia but moved overseas when she was 9 and has since lived all over the world.

“I studied mass communication and international management while at university in Los Angeles, [but] I was never interested in the environment or ecosystems before visiting the farms in Tasikmalaya,” she said.

Sutanto was initially convinced that the claim of organic farming in the region was just a front, an advertising technique. “This is Indonesia and there are so many fraudulent organic products out there that have …

Jakarta Globe: New menu, new look at Puro

Revamping a restaurant can be challenging. To achieve this, Puro Ristorante e Bar has compiled a recession-friendly menu, inviting the challenge of maintaining quality food while cutting both prices and its snooty attitude. The restaurant may have achieved this, but it all depends on the loyalty of Jakarta’s younger crowd.

Two weeks ago, Puro ditched its “Pure” fine-dining theme and attempted to transform itself into a hip and trendy hangout. Transformation efforts included abandoning an all-white decor by garnishing the dining area with plastic vines, vases filled with colorful fruit and most notably brown, cardboard menus.

According to Fina Pardede, a representative of the Ismaya Group that Puro is part of, “We used to only attract people 40 years and up, now we’re trying to attract primarily the younger crowd.”

Puro, tucked away in the back of City Plaza, is out of sight to pedestrian and car traffic, so planning ahead for the night out is a must. Puro’s seclusion — a disadvantage for…

Jakarta Globe: Wasting Away: Behind Jakarta’s Trash Problem

Most Jakartans know little about what happens to their trash once they throw it into their waste bins. By the morning, the waste has miraculously disappeared and as long as it’s not around anymore, why bother worrying about the landfills or recycling and composting?

“I really don’t know where my trash goes or who picks it up,” said Rena Nurul Agustiary, a homeowner from Central Jakarta. “My pembantu [maid] takes care of it.”

According to the German-based Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association, more than 22.5 million tons of garbage are generated in Indonesia every year. In 2020, Indonesians are expected to throw away 53.7 million tons.

Despite these figures, little has been done by the national and Jakarta governments to limit the amount of waste going into landfills. As a result, trash piles high at waste dumps, where recyclable plastic, paper and glass, and food scraps that could be composted, wait to be burned or buried.

Rena said that her neighborhood has trash pickers w…

Jakarta Globe: ‘I Prayed for My Pick to Win Last Night. I Have a Good Feeling About the Result.’

Inhaling his cigarette, Supardi smiled. “God Willing, the next president will give us a better polling station in five years time,” he said.

Like another 292 residents at the same booth in Central Jakarta’s Kebon Kacang area, Supardi cast a vote but admitted his life was unlikely to change regardless of who won.

But the 73-year-old man has faith. “I prayed for my pick to win last night,” he said, “I have a good feeling about the result.”

Hidden behind the concrete jungle of Central Jakarta’s skyscrapers, the polling stations in Kebon Kacang area of Tanah Abang, are, well, quite down market.

Located in a small alley that a car can’t enter, the station Supardi went to was a makeshift tent of blue tarpaulin spread from wall to wall. A cardboard bulletin board with a list of registered voters hung up on a cement alley wall behind one of the two police officers present.

As early as 8 a.m., people had started to line up to submit their voting credentials to the committee manning the station.

Rach…

Jakarta Globe: ESMOD Fashion Students Strut Their Stuff

Models wearing contemporary batik and burkas glided down the runway on Thursday night as Jakarta’s ESMOD fashion school launched its 13th annual fashion festival. Honoring the most recent graduates of its three-year program, the event was held at Bapindo Plaza and saw ESMOD students, alumni, designers and representatives from the textile and garment industries mingling with members of the public.

Two hundred models displayed the class’s final designs as well as pieces submitted for contests sponsored by Swarovski Elements, Russian Vodka and PT Summarecon Agung, which owns Mal Kelapa Gading.

This year, ESMOD challenged its students with the theme racine — French for root — and asked them to focus on their identities and accomplishments. In order to achieve this, students used tenuns — a traditional method of weaving handspun thread onto a loom — and batik in their pieces.

Grace Rachel, editor of Sister Magazine, said that while many designers had used batik, the pieces were fresh and cont…

Jakarta Globe: Soulnation Seeks Local Performers

Organizers of the second Jakarta International Java Soulnation Festival are actively seeking local talent to perform at the October event, holding competitions from July 6 in five Indonesian cities. Kicking off on Monday, telecommunications provider AXIS, a sponsor for Soulnation, is looking for talented rap, freestyle dance and beat box bands to perform at the event, themed “One Nation, One Rhythm.”

The competition will be held in the cities of Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Medan and Yogyakarta, with the best participants selected to perform at Soulnation.

The festival, which runs Oct. 30-31 at Istora Senayan, has confirmed international acts Arrested Development, Tortured Soul and DJ Mi$$ Yellow. Negotiations are ongoing to feature John Legend and Joss Stone, said Nirmala, public relations officer for the event. Maliq & D’Essentials, pictured, RAN and The Boogieman are among the local acts involved and organizers also hope to book the rap group Sweet Martabak.

Angga dan Widi, one of …

Jakarta Globe: Blogging In English

Michael Jubel Hutagalung, a Web designer based in Bandung, West Java, started Jubel and the Unessential, an English-language blog, primarily to improve his written English. The blog offers Hutagalung’s random musings on Indonesia’s politics and culture.

Within a year of Hutagalung starting the blog in October 2007, the traffic to the site was so high that it was exceeding the bandwidth limit on the platform he was using, and he had to move his blog to another host. The traffic explosion, mostly from Indonesians living abroad, gave him an incentive to do more than just improve his English skills.

“I want to tell the world what Indonesia’s really like — how the people really live,” Hutagalung said. But readers may not always get much on how Indonesians are living on an up-to-the-minute basis, or even about the day-to-day concerns of his countrymen.

Hutagalung last posted on Monday, after a two-month hiatus, filling readers in on his university plans and his personal debate in choosing betw…

Jakarta Globe: Much Respect for the Grandmaster

The legendary DJ Grandmaster Flash could be called the godfather of hip-hop. He has been contributing innovative techniques to the music style since the 1970s, and has revolutionized the world of DJ-ing.

Flash’s skills — working two turntables and a microphone — remain impressive and relevant to hip-hop followers all over the world, including in Indonesia. On Friday, fans in Jakarta will have the chance to get up close and personal with the pioneering DJ, who has been on tour of Europe and Asia following the release of his album, “The Bridge,” in March.

Grandmaster Flash’s contributions to the music industry include techniques that are commonly used by DJ’s to this day. He created through his early experimentation spinning vinyl records.

A history of hip-hop, “That’s the Joint,” which was released in 2004 and was edited by Murray Forman and Mark Anthony Neal, describes how Flash developed a technique called “cutting.” He played duplicate copies of a record on two turntables and manually …

From the Jakarta Globe: Piece of Mind: Finding a Love for the Motherland Through Its Notorious ‘Macet’

It’s not so bad being the new kid on the equator. Leaving LA-LA Land, better known as Los Angeles, and its beaches for the summer to spend time in this mega-city of humidity initially seemed like a huge challenge, and a questionable decision.

Growing up as an Indonesian-American, what I knew of Indonesia came from the sambal terasi, boxes of Indomie and packets of abon that our kitchen was always stocked with. As a child, I visited Indonesia on numerous occasions, visiting my extended family in several parts of the archipelago.

Family photos of trekking to the top of the majestic Borobudur, hanging out with aunts, uncles and cousins, and making countless trips to the “up-sized” malls line the walls of my LA home.

The photos were calling out to me. I had a yearning to get back to my roots.

Having been in Jakarta now for more than a week, the traffic still amazes me — but not in the way it strikes the average expat. I am much more optimistic about Jakarta’s macet (traffic jams), and think L…

Look hard and you'll find authentic diversity in Cleveland

Exactly how black and white is Cleveland's diversity? Last week I had an especially low point as a na've college student. While chatting with a Case faculty member, the topic of segregation in Cleveland came up. Now, I've found myself in the middle of East Cleveland and West Cleveland banter since my first week of college, but the faculty member was not referring to simple east vs. west egos - she was referring to a racial segregation which the Case 'bubble' has kept artfully blurred. This segregation revelation only piqued my interest in finding what - if any - kind of cultural diversity Cleveland has to offer beyond 24-hour White Castle and a Browns game.

I've been on a mission, since I am a Cleveland optimist, to discover the overlooked ethnic cultures and neighborhoods of Cleveland. Upon interrogating friends and others for their opinions of Cleveland as a diverse metropolitan center, most responded with raised eyebrows and a condescending eye roll. Is the s…

Plenty of reasons exist to fall in love with Cleveland

Though a West Coaster at heart, I cannot help but love Cleveland. I realize this has isolated me from partake in common ranting material and has caused my peers to fear for my mentality. Yet, regardless of all the stares, questions, and denial, I am regularly content, surprised, and impressed with Cleveland.

Before I subject you to the rest of this column and explain exactly why Cleveland is so underrated, I feel I must clarify a few key facts about myself: I'm from southern California, a location with no shortage of warm beaches, where winters dip down to the low 50s and the most common religion is that of recycling. I moved to Cleveland in 2006 to attend Case and to gain a taste of this once-bustling city of industry.

CWRU friends, west coast friends, family, and ID-checking bartenders all question my love affair with Cleveland. But what is there to question when one is surrounded with colorful, charismatic friends, always challenging weather, and plenty of amusements?

I distinctly…

Turning a new leaf... have I reached my limit of leaf references?

I've been writing about environmental issues and projects for a while now— 2.5 years actually. However, change is good: I've decided to end my undergraduate career with a different tone. My new column in the Observer is called "Cleveland is the reason I'm cool" and is comprised personal experiences in Cleveland that have contributed to an exceptionally exciting four years. No one ever believes that Cleveland is actually fun, unique and thriving. I aim to prove that this town is worthwhile.

Copenhagen summit may not be effective

We're all crossing our fingers for next week's Copenhagen summit to be more successful for the U.S. than the disastrous and embarrassing Kyoto Protocol. Refreshingly, the Obama administration is steps ahead of the previous administration, releasing a statement last Thursday promising a reduction of U.S. greenhouse emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050. We have finally stepped up to plate for our responsibility to the environment - however, what do our long term year-2000-something goals mean in the short term?

From Dec. 7 to 18, the city of Copenhagen will host the 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15). At the summit, a framework for climate change mitigation beyond 2012 is to be agreed upon. Summit participants include United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) member countries. The UNFCCC is an international environmental treaty produced at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Deve…

Composting next step for CWRU

At this point in the "environmental movement," I am sure students and environmental aficionados are tired of hearing about recycling and the tons of waste each member of society disposes of each year. However, there is one unique aspect of recycling that the CWRU campus and many Cleveland communities have neglected: the composting of our food scraps.

Food scraps are the "most recyclable" of all trash - here, recycling is the decomposition of organic material that continuously occurs in nature, often without any assistance from mankind. And yet, the campus community does not bother collecting students'/household food waste. Are we so averse to composting because of the stench of rotting food? Perhaps we are uncomfortable with composting because the process cannot be contained within a shiny blue bin. Whatever the reason may be, composting is very simple to implement, practice and utilize. Several college campuses, such as the University of Vermont (UVM) and Oberl…

Global warming talk cools down

Global warming has been a hot topic for a substantial part of the 21st century so far. However, does global warming actually deserve all these water-cooler chats and front page headlines? Some scientists and critics are convinced global warming is all hooey, but more have the evidence to prove that the melting ice caps and longer summers are effects of a rising global temperature due to anthropogenic reasons.

The term "global warming" refers to an increase in the earth's atmospheric and oceanic temperatures that is widely predicted to occur due to an increase in the greenhouse effect, which is mostly caused by pollution and greenhouse gases. The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press recently found that only 35 percent of people, recently surveyed, see global warming as a very serious problem as opposed to 44 percent back in April of 2008. Furthermore, the Research Center also found that only 57 percent of the 1500 adults surveyed believe there is solid eviden…

Recycling: getting to know your plastics

Last year, bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical compound found in clear hard plastics, scared many people into questioning the hazards found in the plastics they use in their everyday lives, especially water bottles. The media carried headlines with talk of BPA causing hormone imbalances and several types of cancer. Now that the plastics industry has calmed fears of BPA by removing the chemical from plastic products and adding a "BPA-free" label in its place, what about the other plastics in our lives? After becoming aware of the potential dangers of plastics, we should now focus on minimizing their use and effective recycling.

Plastics are part of almost every aspect of the average American's lifestyle. To name just a few, our everyday synthetic tools, toothbrushes, disposable bags, toys, food packaging, and computers all contain plastic. And most of these plastic products will have the "chasing arrows" symbol indicating that it is recyclable. However, this symbol is …

Lifestyle changes for a green campus

y observing the variety of paper and plastics in campus trash cans, the bright fluorescent lights flickering in empty dorm room windows, and the amount of food left on dining hall plates, it appears that voluntary reduction of one's own adverse environmental impact is not sufficient. At this point, students' environmental consciousness cannot be depended on to significantly limit our campus carbon footprint. A large segment of the student population holds an attitude of indifference and displays minimal effort toward achieving a "greener" campus.

I recognize it is not just the students' responsibility to minimize waste and energy usage. However, campus administrators have already implemented several programs and completed renovations toward achieving a more sustainable campus. Some of the sidewalks on the Case quad are now made of porous concrete in order to reduce the need for salt in the wintertime, the dining halls have gone tray-less, and the entire Village co…

Buying organic in Cleveland

Labels on our food products can be tricky to decipher, especially considering how advertisers do not have the best reputation for telling the complete truth. Organic labels on products ranging from cereal boxes to banana bunches promise "naturally grown ingredients" or claim to be a member of some grassroots organic organization. All of these labels sound promising of organic origins, but there is in fact only one certified organic label - the United States Department of Agriculture certification label. The USDA and the Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association (OEFFA) work toward helping consumers understand the origins of their products and produce - they do not work for the manufacturers and corporations behind the product.

The USDA National Organic Program and the Organic Foods Production Act are intended to assure consumers that the organic foods they purchase are produced, processed, and certified to be consistent with national organic standards. A product that simply…

With limited means, "third-world" countries need global environmental support

Spending the summer in the archipelago nation of Indonesia gave me a dose of reality about what we call the third world. As an economics and environmental studies double major beginning my final year of college, I had learned to condemn China for unrestrained coal emissions, and to denounce most of Southeast Asia for lax deforestation laws. However, in the midst of my summer's immersion in Indonesian culture and society, I reconsidered my thinking the past three years: there are in fact issues that trump the environment, such as employment opportunities, prosperity, and education, to name a few. Jakarta's more immediate priorities therefore place the environment on a to-do list reaching beyond its city of 10 million and to all of us on a global scale.

By witnessing first-hand Indonesia's trashed rivers and mountainous garbage dumps, breathing the harsh air, and listening to its 2009 presidential nominees' speeches, I have come to understand that addressing environmental…