Introduction to RCUS
Rujak Center for Urban Studies (RCUS) is founded to fill the gaps in the necessary process of transition into the ecological age. The vision of RCUS is working together with communities in generating innovative knowledge and practices to build sustainable cities and regions.
By sustainability RCUS means not only surviving climate change and other ecological disasters, but also solving other urban problems that have predated our awareness about ecological issues. Nevertheless, we do believe that the awareness about ecology, and new production of knowledge that it sparked, have created a new perspective and opportunities for conceptualising our actions differently to solve those other outstanding urban problems such as poverty, justice, pluralism, inclusivity, etc. Indeed, they make possible a new way of building cities. However, it is also realised that much more new research and knowledge are needed to change many things.
RCUS wishes to focus on cities as human territories that amalgamate most, if not all, of contemporary and future human problems. In 2007 the world has passed the irreversible 50% urbanisation rate, due mostly to the highest rates in cities of developing countries. RCUS is looking out to the whole South East Asia and Timor Leste as it area of works, while starting firmly in Indonesia.
RCUS was built from different experiences and backgrounds of its co-founders who have been doing a multitude of research, capacity building and policy advocacy sporadically in the past two decades or so. They have some professional working experiences in the fields of good governance, arts and culture, heritage, development strategy, and post-disaster reconstruction (in Aceh).
As we learned by doing, however, we realised that changes require designed steps, bigger magnitude and collaboration, long-term commitments, perseverance, and hence serious organising. We wish to combine research, capacity building and policy advocacy under one roof of RCUS to make our efforts more effective.
Our persistent orientation is towards ever expanding ownership of sustained changes by citizens, through their initiatives and active participation in city- and region-building. Our
optimism is based on many years of encountering and working, at grass root levels, with growing number of citizens’s independent and autonomous initiatives, whose growth in the last decade is a very significant phenomenon in itself. In all our works we wish to always build infrastructures, spaces, and habits for citizens’ initiatives and participation, not as by- products, but as the very goal itself. We wish to become a management center for knowledge that is to be generated together with communities to create innovations and to be used by communities in making changes.
RCUS’s birthday is May 1, 2010. We look forward to collaborating creatively with as many partners as possible.
1. Jakarta Petrodollars is a program within a larger framework/cluster that we call “Cities and Energy
2. Creating Interaction Infrastructure for Citizens ‘Active Participation in Jakarta and a secondary City in Java.
3. Grant for Citizens’ Initiatives
4. Spatial Planning Watch:
Continuing our work in advocating participatory process in Jakarta’s Spatial Planning. This is more than just advocacy works, but include systematic documentation, monitoring + evaluation, and systematic publication of information to general public, and working with governments to improve spatial planning quality. There is a lot of capacity building to be conducted, too.
5. Urban-Knowledge Dynamics
6. National Law on Urban Development (RUU Kota)
7. Rujak and Research
8. Workshop: in cooperation with various parties, Rujak organized a workshop aiming to utilize knowledge and skills together in many urban areas.
9. Forum for Co- Production of Knowledge
10. Rujak and Sustainability
11. Rujak and Participatory Planning
12. Series of Publication:
a. Directory of Citizens’ Initiatives in South East Asia (on-line and limited print edition)
b. Sustainable Cities and Regions are Possible
c. People Driven Reconstruction of Post-tsunami Aceh (experiences with participatory
reconstruction of 23 villages in post-tsunami in Aceh, winner of Dubai International
Award for Best Performance in Improving Human Settlement)
d. Jakarta Petrodollar: This book is based on research in oil and gas resources owned by
Jakarta Provincial Government in Kepulauan Seribu.
e. Jakarta’s Words and Facts: This book contains a collection of events which formed
Jakarta during 1998-2010. It also contains the knowledge about the changes that occurred in Jakarta based on information from the various resources of newspaper clippings, government data and written sources. The preparation of the Jakarta’s Words and Facts was supported by TIFA Foundation and the Open Society Foundation
f. Spatial Toolkit for Us: Rujak produced a spatial toolkit of books and videos containing practical knowledge devoted to encouraging Jakarta residents to be more empowered and critical of the city. The preparation of the toolkit is supported by TIFA Foundation, the Open Society Foundation and Hivos.