Anniversary Reflection in the Midst of Pandemic; Writing Future History

Track Record of Gemawan Journey

This year’s commemoration of Gemawan Anniversary felt different from the previous years. How it is not so, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic does not only change the interaction culture of each individual human being, including changing the culture of organization. Routine activities of meeting communities in the field have undoubtedly turned into communication via online applications. Similarly, the discussion in order to reflect on the 21st Anniversary of Gemawan, which was held on April 27, 2020, took place online in order to conduct social and physical distancing to break the chain of Corona Virus spread.

For a human, being 21 years is a young age, a time when energy and creativity are never exhausted. The word “young” definitely has a perspective. According to the Director of Gemawan Institute, Laili Khairnur, young can relate to 2 contexts: firstly, age; and secondly, spirit or thought. Passing through a period of more than two decades – to reach the dream of a self-reliant and independent society – is certainly not an easy matter, it requires continuously fresh spirit and energy. That spirit is what makes 21 Years of Gemawan a young age. In fact, the twists and turns of the journey, the various obstacles, the ups and downs, the challenges which never stop have further strengthened Gemawan’s existence as one of the recognized Civil Society Organizations in West Kalimantan.

Initially established on April 21, 1999, Gemawan was a youth response to the challenges of the era at the time. Post-Reformation, a group of young activists took the initiative to establish an organization as a channel for their idealism. The organization becomes their home and office, a fighting tool as well as a motor for their lives. That organization is Gemawan, which was born, raised, and kept until today.

Anniversary is the right moment to do a journey reflection of an entity – whether the human or institution, as well as Gemawan. Board of Gemawan, Hermawansyah, said that this annual reflection is an effort to maintain the spirit of Gemawan movement as a social and organizational entity which is always consistent in achieving its vision and missions. In explaining the journey of Gemawan, he divided it into several phases, namely:

  1. 1999-2001. A transformation phase from a student movement – because Gemawan was driven by university student activists – turned into a social or civil society movement;
  2. 2001-2005. The time when Gemawan was still looking for a format. There were three divisions which autonomously moved Gemawan at that time. The presence of Laili Khairnur in this period also provided an atmosphere for a new movement, for example building connections with civil society networks outside West Kalimantan. At that time, Gemawan also began to be recognized to have a network with the Anti-Corruption Movement at the national level.
  3. 2006-2010. In this phase, Gemawan was leading in networking and advocacy. This is due to – one of the reasons – going international by advocating for human rights, environmental rights and the laws of communities affected by large-scale oil palm plantation investments in West Kalimantan.
  4. 2011-2015. In this period, Gemawan did a modification of its strategy by using the mainstreaming access approach. Gemawan extended its influence to the government, national networks and even international networks. Therefore, on the commemoration of Gemawan’s 14th Anniversary, the theme carried was The New Wave of Social Movement in Indonesia. Gemawan also began to spread its wings to Sintang and Kapuas Hulu.
  5. 2016-2020. In this era, Gemawan again is doing a positioning issue, for example establishing SAKSI (School of Anti-Corruption), Village School, Village Spatial Planning School, Women’s School. Gemawan becomes part of history of social forestry in West Kalimantan and Indonesia.

 

Since long time ago, Gemawan has always worked based on two approaches, namely an area-based approach and an issue-based approach. Hence, each program surely touches the community in a very broad epicenter. Likewise, the program uses an empowerment approach at the basic level and advocacy at the policy level. Program innovation and Network Strengthening become the foundation in its implementation. Thus, we always need to improve the quality of Gemawan activists. As stated by Hermawansyah, the work of activists, in general, is reading, writing, speaking, and networking as well as implementing them into real work.

Being an activist is a choice. When the choice has been made, the tasks as an agent of change are not limited to merely conduct the tasks within the organization. They include the responsibility to influence, form public opinion, organize society, network and advocate to change, maintain, and encourage the making of public policies which protect the interests of wider community.

 

Present Challenge; Industrial Revolution 4.0

The future is not about something we get, but about something we strive for. The pillars of Gemawan’s fights – political sovereignty, economic independence, gender justice, ecological justice, and cultural character – require Gemawan movement to always be able to answer the challenges of the times.

According to Rhenald Kasali, disruption is an innovation. This is an innovation that will replace the entire old system with a new way. Disruption has the potential to replace old players with new ones. Disruption replaces old technology all-physical ones, with digital technology that produces something completely new, more efficient and more useful.

As Rhenald Kasali said, disruption is the main requirement if we do not want to fail in the middle of the Industrial Revolution. Globalization has encouraged equality in the world society in many ways, each individual has been integrated into a social model and communication pattern which even has no difference. The world is changing because of big data, grassroot movements are changing into hashtag wars, floods of information without filtration which emerge the post-truth.

This challenge becomes Gemawan’s new task: to untangle the tangled threads of modern civilization and simplify them to the public in rural areas. Therefore, if we use the Hermawansyah’s previous categorization, the era of disruption and millennial children is a new challenge for Gemawan in the 6th phase. How to ensure that millennials and generation Z are not deprived of real problems in the real world, even though their future model of struggle is definitely different from the previous generations.

 

*) Source: Gemawan Internal Discusion of Gemawan 21-Year Reflection which was presented online by Board of Gemawan, Hermawansyah, on 27th  April 2020.  

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