Happy place, happier community

By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
[email protected]
@danitbpseeds

Crowd funding is not an easy thing to do.

Founded by trio; Mohd Saifullah Haini or fondly known as Seph, Sulie Abell and Mohd Azhar Rashid in September last year, GEEKpledge is a crowd funding website focusing on raising funds for community ‘place making’ projects.

“The three of us met last year when we attended the same entrepreneurship programme and we sort of clicked together since all three of us have the same motive and objective-involving the youths and giving back to the community,” said Sulie of how the three of them met.

GEEKpledge started the Vibrant Kuching project at Kampong Muara Tebas. From right: Seph and Sulie frm GEEKpledge and the artist, Zul Argus (far left)

GEEKpledge started the Vibrant Kuching project at Kampong Muara Tebas. From right: Seph and Sulie frm GEEKpledge and the artist, Zul Argus (far left)

With the motto ‘Happy Place, Happier Community’, GEEKpledge believes that involving the community in a community project such as place making empowers them as well as adds a sense of belonging and ownership among them.

GEEKpledge started their pilot project at Seph’s hometown, Kampong Muara Tebas by painting a mural at the wall of an abandoned shophouse which used to belong to his late grandfather.

After asking permission to paint a mural at the wall, they started by cleaning off the wall of the shop before drafting their design.

With a beautiful view overlooking the open sea at the peaceful Malay fishing village, the artist, Nuzuluddin Abdul Razak, who is also from Kampong Muara Tebas, was more than happy to be involved in the project as a way to give back to his community.

Artist Zul from Kampong Muara Tebas agree to participate in the project as a way to give back to his community

Artist Zul from Kampong Muara Tebas agree to participate in the project as a way to give back to his community

“For the design, I have drawn two arowana fish facing each other which symbolises the two races in this kampong, Malay and Chinese living in complete harmony with each other,” said Zul of the mural called ‘The Legacy of Harmony’ under the project Vibrant Kuching.

Cleaning off the wall of the old abandoned shop

Cleaning off the wall of the old abandoned shop (Photo courtesy of GEEKpledge)

Determined to have it completed before Chinese New Year, the team worked hard by cleaning off the wall and clearing the rubbish near the wall before they started.

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The kids help paint the window pane shells, shiny elements used as the scales for the arowana fish (Photo courtesy of GEEKpledge)

Not long after that, their project then started to get attention from the local community- especially the children – who were curious on how the mural would turn out.

The kids started to get curious and excited for their project (Photo courtesy of GEEKpledge)

The kids started to get curious and excited for their project (Photo courtesy of GEEKpledge)

According to Seph, when they first started, they gained a lot of attention from curious passers-by and not long after that, people, especially the children started to participate actively in completing the mural project.

The community getting in their creative mode to have the mural complete before Chinese New Year

The community getting in their creative mode to have the mural complete before Chinese New Year

“We have kids joining us to paint the wall and I was amazed at how appreciative and protective they came to be towards the mural once it was completed,” said Seph.

Touch up by using the wondow pane shells adding in shiny element of the arowana scales

The window pane shells added the shiny element to the arowana scales.

Titled 'The Legacy of Harmony', it symbolises the two races the kampong, Malay and Chinese living in complete harmony with each other

Titled ‘The Legacy of Harmony’, it symbolises the two races the kampong, Malay and Chinese living in complete harmony with each other

According to Seph, the idea of ‘place making’ came when he attended the ‘City with a Soul’ conference in Kuching last year, and was inspired by a talk by the Mayor of London where he voiced out an idea on crowd funding based on inquiring the public what they think should be done to improve their area within their community.

“From there I was inspired by him that in order to come out with a better place for the citizens we need to ask them what do they want,” said Seph.

With GEEKpledge, the aim of getting the community involved with community projectsl the contributions, ideas and involvement of volunteers can add a sense of belonging to the area, thus making it a happy place for the community.

Seph, standing in front of the old abandoned shop that was once belonged to his late grandfather, hoping to turn it into a community space one day

Seph, standing in front of the old abandoned shop that once belonged to his late grandfather, hoping to turn it into a community space one day

“So, when they are involved in the project itself, it naturally makes them feel a sense of belonging to the place, thus restoring the humanity value through community-based projects,” said Sulie.

However, a great cause is not without its obstacle.

According to Sulie, trust issues and awareness among the public are still the obstacles faced when doing crowd funding in this part of the world as it is still a fairly new concept here.

“We knew it would an obstacle to start a crowd funding website and so we thought it would be better to that we funded our own pilot project just to show members of the public of what GEEKpledge is,” said Seph.

With their own RM500 funding, the Legacy of Harmony was completed before Chinese New Year and received a lot of positive reaction from the community in Kampong Muara Tebas.

“In GEEKpledge, we promote transparency and so with the money that we have, we posted the budget on our Facebook page to show how it was spent,” said Seph.

Seph (left) and Sulie with artist Zul down at Wayang Street completing their second project

Seph (left) and Sulie with artist Zul down at Wayang Street completing their second project (Photo courtesy of GEEKpledge)

As of now, with a planned fund of RM300, GEEKpledge has managed to raise the funds from Tunas Usahawan Belia Bumiputera or Tube (an entrepreneurship initiative programme by the government) community and completed another Vibrant Kuching project, a mural titled ‘Journey To The Glory’ as inspired by Journey To The West story at Wayang Street.

Cleaning the wall of the abandoned old shop

GEEKPledge and artist Zul showing the completed project, a mural titled ‘Journey To The Glory’ (Photo courtesy of GEEKpledge)

According to Seph, who is one of the Tube members, he brought up the idea of painting a mural to his Tube friends and managed to collect RM400 for the project which was completed last Friday.

Also celebrating the year of the monkey, the mural symbolises the cleverness and cheekiness of the adorable creatures. With the backdrop of Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) in view, Seph said it basically represents climbing towards something powerful.

With two completed projects under their belts, Seph said their projects do not necessarily stick to painting murals but may include other activities as well.

“The reason why we do murals for these two projects is because it is trending these days. You can see murals start to pop up anywhere in town. But we are not only limited to that, our projects may also include other activities such as helping the community clean the area,” said Seph.

As of now, GEEKpledeg is planning on another project sometime in March. With the aim of spreading happiness and positivity around, GEEKpledge hopes that one day they could collaborate with city councils as well as members of the publics to do more community place making projects.

To know more info on Geekpledge, contact Seph at +60168754882 or email them at [email protected] or feel free to check out their facebookpage at https://www.facebook.com/GEEKpledge-137066149975917/?fref=ts or visit their website at http://geekpledge.com/

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