I was strolling through Qortuba Public Park this afternoon. The place is actually pretty decent, there’s a fair amount of benches and lots of trees and grass. The problem is that it was filthy. There was litter everywhere. The bathrooms were disgraceful. The security guard quarters were abandoned (I don’t think a security guard works there anymore). Graffiti was on every surface and half the lights weren’t working.
I thought about what we could do to fix things and I realized the answer was internet social media; Facebook.
I propose that we create a ‘Qortuba Public Park’ Facebook page. The purpose of this page is to do two things:
- To act as a bulletin-board for activities that residents of Qortuba would initiate; fostering a stronger sense of community and being a safe place for young kids to meet new friends and play.
- To serve as a forum to identify and act on negligence on behalf of the authorities. If you see litter in the park, you can access the page to find the telephone number of the people responsible for cleaning and you can complain. If enough people do that they will fix things. If you see graffiti you can photograph it and upload it to the page and demand they paint over it. It’s basically a way for local constituents to reach the people responsible and is a way for us to be empowered.
(photos taken a few months ago, when the park was much cleaner)
On the page we would have the contact numbers of all the people responsible for the maintenance and security of the park; specifically the names and telephone numbers of the local government of Qortuba, and the people responsible for them in the Baladiya (in case they don’t answer the phone), as well as the numbers (and photographs of) the actual workers who work on the park.
Once a large enough number of people sign up to the Facebook page, the first event would be a mass clean-up/education event held in the park. Families would be invited to join in and paint the walls, clear up all the litter and then celebrate with games for the kids to get to know each other. This would help teach the kids about responsibility and get them to develop a sense of ownership towards the park. It becomes theirs.
After that anyone can then propose an event on the page, and there’d be a schedule of things to do. For example, I could schedule a football tournament for boys aged 8-12, with teams from every block competing, and I could referee. People want to be involved in their communities, but there was never a viable medium to spread information to people quickly and spontaneously. Facebook changes that. With one quick invite, you could create an event and get it together without much hassle. Spontaneous book swaps, art events, bake sales, you name it. The park becomes the heart of the community. I hope and have a feeling that young mothers would really get into this and make it work. It has to happen naturally and in small clusters where people feel responsible to each other and to the park itself.
Of course, this would be replicated for every area in Kuwait. People always complain about the government, but this is a way for us to combine and focus all of our voices to do something good one small step at a time. I would love it if someone would take this idea and run with it, but I wouldn’t mind doing it myself for Qortuba first.