Tag: Conservation

30 Years of Conservation: Every Community has a Story

The key for the past to stay relevant for the present and future is letting communities shape their identities and heritage, says Li Yong, co-founder of civic and heritage group My Community.

When My Community opened a heritage community museum in Queenstown in early 2019, it received a surprisingly strong reaction from the residents. They wanted to know the purpose of Museum @ My Queenstown and some even questioned its relevance to the community.

This reaction was a reminder to never take the community for granted. “Instead of speaking
to the residents (about the museum), we just assumed that the community would embrace its premise and curation right away,” says Li Yong who founded My Community with his friend Jasper Tan, in 2010. My Community is a civic and heritage group that originally offered guided tours in Queenstown, one of Singapore’s oldest housing estates.

The community museum is the first of its kind located within the Queenstown neighbourhood. “We had already incorporated artefacts and photographs in the museum from the residents but they did not just want them to be displayed, they wanted to be an active part of the planning and curation process.” Since then,

My Community has roped in residents to work with its volunteers and artists to co-curate exhibitions and programmes for the museum.

➜ Read the full story in 30 years of conservation in Singapore since 1989

30 Years of Conservation: Keeping the Past Relevant

Straits Times heritage correspondent Melody Zaccheus believes telling good heritage stories helps connect people and their relationships to places.

Melody’s foray into the heritage beat can be traced back to an article she wrote in 2012 on the National Heritage Board’s efforts to document Singapore’s eight remaining traditional bakeries known for producing conventionally prepared breads and buns. Learning first-hand about the struggles of these dying businesses, which once numbered up to 200 in the 1970s, inspired the then fresh journalism graduate to pursue more of such evocative stories.

Inspiring deeper conversations about Singapore’s heritage and giving a voice to forgotten historical figures and everyday people with stories to tell, are some of the reasons why The Straits Times has a reporter covering the heritage beat, says Melody. Since 2012, she has assumed this role in Singapore’s main English-language newspaper, carving out a niche in the newsdesk.

Beyond just the recounting of nostalgic events, much of Melody’s job is to figure out how to make a story relevant to readers today. Over the years, her coverage has ranged from reporting on new historical discoveries to overlooked heritage, and occasionally, even correcting misconceptions about the past.

➜ Read the full story in 30 years of conservation in Singapore since 1989

Transforming Old into Gold

Singapore is ageing. Not just its people, but its buildings too. After five decades of accelerated urbanisation, many of the city-state’s once gleaming modern developments — particularly its housing stock ‚ have reached middle age.

Peeling paint, leaking ceilings and creaking infrastructure are some common problems homeowners are increasingly grappling with. The solution for many is to move to a new development by selling their homes en-bloc. It’s no wonder many Singaporeans see their homes as property assets, a shelter built out of money to be cashed out later in life.

While wrecking old(er) buildings for gold seems pragmatic and even inevitable for many, it also reflects the lack of imaginative alternatives in Singapore.

➜ Read the full column in CUBES #94 (Jan/Feb/Mar 2019)