As part of Giving Week 2017, Peatix partnered with the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) to extend a preferential ticketing fee, encouraging organisers to come onboard, organising an event or activity that aims to spread awareness of a cause with the objective of spreading good vibes through 28 Nov – 5 Dec. As an added measure, Peatix also pledged to donate $0.50 for every paid ticket sold to the beneficiary of our choice – Transient Workers Can Too (TWC2), a non-profit organisation that seeks to improve and provide support to underprivileged transient workers in Singapore.
The initiative saw almost 12 organisers coming onboard, with more than 30 events designed to spread the word of various causes of which, some of whom are organising events on Peatix and participating in Giving Week for the first time. We decided to join one of these new organisers – Dakota Adventures, organised by the guys behind the Cassia Resettlement team, to understand their work a little more and find out what is it that they do, and why.
Described as a walking “adventure that includes a tour around the estate of Dakota Crescent, participants will follow the story of relocation to Cassia Crescent”, where some of the residents of the former estate are now rehomed and in addition, “participants will also gain further insights to the efforts of ground up initiatives by the team”.
It was a balmy Sat morning where we gathered at Mountbatten MRT to meet with guides Yinzhou and Sarah, along with 5 other participants who had signed up to partake in this trail. Following a quick brief that would outline the itinerary for the next 3 hours, we were enroute to the now-vacated estate, just steps away from the newly-minted MRT station.
Along the walk, we discovered that Yinzhou was also the same organiser behind Geylang Adventures, another full-time social project he’s dedicated his time to, that aims to showcase the lesser seen sides of Geylang “as more than a food enclave in the business of whoring”.
As we moved along the journey and in between sets of vivid storytelling that detailed the once-weres of what was amongst Singapore’s very first housing estates designed to enable the migration of kampong (traditional village) dwellers into modern housing blocks, we took the opportunity to speak a little more with Yinzhou, to find out why he took a particular interest with this neighbourhood and what were his motivations, behind going the extra mile to champion the awareness of this unique cause.
Peatix: So Yinzhou, tell us a little bit more about the project
YZ: Dakota Adventures was started as a project to introduce to Singaporeans this forgotten estate with a rich history. Unlike many of the earlier housing development projects, Dakota was actually modelled after “Hyde Park” in London and the low bricked flats drew architectural elements from the British. In late 2014, HDB announced that Dakota Crescent would be slated for redevelopment and in less than 2 years, residents would have moved out of this place they used to call ‘home’. Consisting of a majority ageing population, some of these residents struggle with small things like taking the lift, remembering their way home, making friends with new neighbours. Others struggle with bigger things like keeping their house clean, getting regular meals and staying healthy.
The relocation of an entire estate calls into question Singaporean’s idea of home. We wanted to bring to question, what are the impacts of demolishing a site relatable to the population? Do people make the place, or does the place make the people?
With these questions, we hope to open the discussion about heritage, empathy for elderly and low income issues. Through multimedia and personal narratives as the medium for these discussions to happen.”
Peatix: Have you done many of these tours?
“We haven’t done many of these walking tours around Dakota because our main work centres around resolving issues for the affected residents but we hope with this Giving Week initiative, we are able to bring more people on the ground, introducing them to the work we do onboard the road less travelled. After all, sometimes to understand a situation or matter better, you first have to walk the talk.”
The walk around the estate took approximately 2 hours, following which, we were led to Cassia Crescent where we were introduced to the new towering housing blocks, consisting of mainly 1 to 2 room units, about a 10 min walk away from where Dakota crescent stood. We were told that we are going to be conducting house visits to 2 of the ex-residents that would enable us a greater insight to how they were settling in their “new homes”.
To find out what transpired during these house visits, stay tuned to part 2 of What Gives: Dakota Adventures. In the meantime, you can follow Yinzhou and his latest projects here.