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March 24: What I have learnt from this story?

Confirm the info that the interviewees offer!!!!!

 I felt surprised and kind of disappointed the moment I found out what Mr. Striker have told me is not exactly true.

 Some of them are exaggerated. For example the school and universities he said they are cooperating, OMG! Just one school, West Island School that even hasn’t tried the trip!

 Some of the info is misleading. Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre and Cattle Depot Artist Factory are merely the checkpoints of the trips, but Mr. Striker said they were the strategic cooperators.

Sensitive to numbers!

Every participant is required to pay at least $500, and there have almost 1,000 people have joint the trips. They have recieved at least $500,000 trip fees and have donated $20,000 to charities.

According to Ms. Ester Van Steekelenburg, the director of UD, high costs have detained them from making profit so limited amount of money was available for donation.

It seems they have to work even harder to cut down costs meanwhile maintain the quality of their trips.

Let’s wait and see.

XOXO

Laura

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March 23: Confirming info with the institutes the interviewees have mentioned

Institutes or experts that have commented on what they have done:

Invest HK

-Becky Lam, Senior Manager of Public Relations of Invest Hong Kong

blam@investhk.gov.hk

Tel: (852) 3107 1035

Reply:

Hi Laura,

Thank you very much for your email.  Could you please let us know if it is Invest Hong Kong that you are referring to?  I’ve checked that this Urban Discoverage Challenge is not our completed projects.  Maybe I will need more information from your side before I can help to proceed with anything further.

Thanks,

Becky Lam

Senior Manager, Public Relations

Invest Hong Kong

HK Tourism Board

-Hong Kong Tourism Board

media@discoverhongkong.com

Reply:

Dear Ms Luo,

Thank you for your email of 20 March regarding the organisation “Urban Discovery Challenge”.

 In order to help us processing your enquiry, grateful if you could provide us the source of information and further details about the Hong Kong Tourism Board’s positive feedback to the said organisation, as mentioned in your email.

 If you need any immediate assistance, please feel free to call me on 2807 6186.

 Thanks & regards,

Rosalia

Corporate Affairs

Hong Kong Tourism Board

The institutions that they have cooperated with

Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre

-Christy MAN, Programme Officer of JCCAC Artist Village

Tel: (852)2319 2173 | Fax: (852) 2319 1643 | www.jccac.org.hk

Reply:

Dear Laura,

 Nice to talk with you.

As per our conversation, JCCAC is only one of the checkpoints of the Challenge and we do not have any involvement, neither strategic nor programme partner, in the Urban Discovery Challenge.

 

Should you like to know more about JCCAC Artist Village , please feel free to contact me at 2319-2173.

 

Regards,

Christy

 

 

Maren Striker said: “We also work together with a number of schools and universities on educational programmes as well as with local NGO’s such as the Heritage Hong Kong Foundation and Conservancy Association for Heritage (CACHe).”

They are just going to hold a 4 days trip for West Island School

West Island School

-Natalie Berry, the Activity Administrator of West Island School

Tel: (852) 2819 1962

Fax: (852) 2816 7257

E-mail: wis@wis.edu.hk

 

Reply:

“We are going to have a trip on 14th to 18th December.”

“We like their ideas so we take them on board.”

 

Heritage Hong Kong Foundation

– MEB Heritage <margaret.brooke@heritagehk.net>

 

Reply:

Dear Laura

Many thanks for your e-mail.

Whilst Heritage Hong Kong Foundation has not yet received any donation from Urban Discovery Challenge, we are aware that a race is planned for later in the year which passes through Wanchai where we are involved in the renovation of the Blue House Cluster and that it is hoped that a donation will be possible following the completion of this race.

Thank you for your interest in Heritage Hong Kong.

Kind regards

Margaret Brooke

Chair

Lung Fu Shan Environmental Education Centre

-Regina Lo, Senior Project Officer of Lung Fu Shan Environmental Education Centre

reginalo@hku.hk

lfseec@hkucc.hku.hk

+852 2219-4762

Reply:

Dear Laura,

 Thanks for your email.  Urban Discovery Challenge did make donation to the Centre, as they sometimes used the activity room of the Centre for their events, then they would make donation to the Centre as the rental fee of the activity room and also support the operation of the Centre.  However, I think it is not appropriate for us to disclose the amount of donation they have contributed, I suggest you can ask the organization directly.

 Regards,

 Regina

Conservancy Association Centre for Heritage

-Oskar Leung, Senior Project Officer of Conservancy Association Centre for Heritage

oskarleung@cache.org.hk

2291 0238

       Reply:

         “We are nor cooperating with them. They are just regular donators.”

         “We received their donation last year.”

Response from the Urban Discovery Challenge:

Laura,

 I checked for you, so far we have donated to our selected charities

 Lung Fu Shan Eductaion Centre HK$1,500,-

Cache Conservancy Association for Heritage HK15,000,-

 Further we are happy to inform you that last Friday we have been awarded the DutchCham Magic Touch Award 2011

for innovative business approach, its contribution to the preservation of Hong Kong’s cultural heritage & the community in general.

 We look forward to seeing your draft article.

 Kind regards,

 Ester van Steekelenburg

 

 

Mr. Striker:

The Urban Discovery Challenge has received positive feedback from the HK Chamber of Commerce, instead of Invest HK.

 

HK Chamber of Commerce (contact reference Alex Fong CEO)

HK Tourism Board MICE section (contact reference Andy Choy, Senior Executive)     HKIP (contact pointYY Pong)

 

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March 18: the interview(brief record)

  1. (photos of interviewees)
  2. Can you give me some examples about the disappeared buildings?

We provide people with some references refer to the past.

Office Post office, marine building. 1881,

  1. Why they disappeared?

Development pressure,

  1. What value did the building have?
  2. Why find the disappeared buildings? Any value?
    the kids, very often they don’t venture out a lot.

We show them different places and make them talk to old people and find out what did Hong Kong look like in the past. But not just listen to their teacher.

  

   We can not change the past. But we can provide people sertain knowledge of the past, that will hoplefully help them in the future. And think more about the area they are living.

 

  1. Any places with long history are reserved well? Why?

 

  1. Any buildings that you think should be reserved are in danger/ disappeared?

The classic example is the 1881 Heritage which could have been handled in a much better way. I always call it Disneyfication of Heritage. You don’t see the differences between what’s new one and what’s old one. They have been recreated. It is not how it should be.

 

The preservation should not focus on just one building. Sometimes it is a whole street. 深水埗,石硖尾,these are very nice conrner, which define the image of the neribourghood.

  1. Who are protecting the old buildings?
  2. Any other institutes or government departments work to reserve the old buildings?
  3. What do you think about what they have done?

10.  Any suggestions for the preservation of the old heritage?

Heading to the right direction.

 Singapore. They try to make it attractive.

Make it [heritages] interesting so that the developers will keep the facades, the old buildings and the neighborhood intact instead of demolish or put something new.

 

“Heritage preservation does not mean that the development should stop. You can still develop it from within.

 “The preservation should not focus on just one building. Sometimes it is a whole street. For example in Sham Shui Po and Shek Kip Mei, there are very nice conrner houses, which define the image of the neighborhood. Hopefully they can preserve some areas to keep these corner houses to keep the references to the past.”

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March 17: interview questions outline

General questions:

  1. You mention many tasks in the trips, which tasks are more popular?
  2. Why require participants to put on funny outfit?
  3. Which charities get your donation? How many so far have you donated? Do you know what do they use it for?

 

For more livable cities tomorrow

  We fear for city’s identities being lost in the modernization frenzy and for the toll of rapid urbanization on the environment and quality of life especially in the more vulnerable urban communities. We want to make a contribution to make sure that tomorrow’s cities are  safe, healthy and attractive cities to live in.

In each city we have selected local charities that preserve heritage or improve the quality of urban life locally. Part of the profit will go to one of these charities. 

Lung Fu Shan Environmental Education Centre

The Lung Fu Shan Environmental Education Centre is jointly operated by the Environmental Protection Department and the University of Hong Kong. It organises a variety of activities to learn about the natural and built environment while being in touch with nature.

Heritage Hong Kong Foundation

Heritage Hong Kong Foundation is a focal point for action and ideas on heritage and conservation issues in Hong Kong. They advocate a “heritage first” approach instead of the common practice whereby commercial considerations largely dominate the decision making process.

 

Specific questions about one of the task–locating sites of disappeared buildings:

  1. Can you give me some examples about the disappeared buildings?
  2. Why they disappeared?
  3. What value did the building have?
  4. Why find the disappeared buildings? Any value?

 

  1. Any places with long history are reserved well? Why?

 

  1. Any buildings that you think should be reserved are in danger/ disappeared?

 

  1. Who are protecting the old buildings?
  2. Any other institutes or government departments work to reserve the old buildings?

 

Ending question:

In the website, you mention “We want to make a contribution to make sure that tomorrow’s cities are  safe, healthy and attractive cities to live in.” how do you define an “ideal tmr city”?

 

Further information:

Can I get the photos and the sites of the disappeared building?

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March 16: pre-interview

Last night, I did an pre-interview with Maren Striker, the project manager. I am going to do an interview with Maren and Ester Van Steekelenburg, the founder of Urban Discovery, at 2pm. They are attending a conference in old campus, related to everything but my story unfortunately. I am going to meet them after and walk with them to Pacific Coffee, yes, the one near the student hall. Would it be too far?

Here is the brief record of the interview.

1.   The adventures, like what the participants do during the trips, and how you designed them?

The Urban Discovery Challenge really is the modern version of the good old treasure hunt. Inspired by the Amazing Race series we put together a number of tours highlighting the city’s hidden gems, while putting knowledge and stamina to the test. The idea is that teams of four people compete to find hidden checkpoints, solve clues and compete in physical challenges, whereby the only allowed method of travel is by foot or local public transportation.

We try to find a balance between fun & intelligence with an emphasis on local culture, architecture, traditions, art & design. Team tasks include shopping for special types of dried fish at the local market, performing a lion dance, locating sites of disappeared buildings, tai chi in the park, tasting of local food & drinks and sampan racing.

Designing the routes is actually the best part of our job. It involves keeping track of the latest urban and cultural developments in the city and reading up about the history of our selected race destinations. The next step is to visit these areas, talk to residents, finding the special places, surprising shops, hidden temples and interesting stories that can feed into the race design. The most challenging part is to make sure that people can actually find these places; as you know, Hong Kong’s urban landscape is forever changing: a shop or restaurants that we find today may not be there tomorrow, and buildings seem to appear and disappear virtually overnight. We have to think of assignments that can withstand Hong Kong’s rapid pace of change.

2.     Any institutes or experts have commented on what you have done?

Press coverage in both Chinese and English newspapers has been very promising so far. We’ve also received positive feedback from the likes of Invest HK, HK Tourism Board and HK Institute of Planners and a number of local heritage NGO’s have also embraced the idea.   

3.     Your plan to develop your work?

Urban Discovery is still young; we only started last year…. Now, approaching the start of the year of the rabbit, we can safely say that we’re here to stay: in Hong Kong nearly 1000 people have joined our races as team building activity, company event or kid’s party. Clients include a.o. Philips, AXA, ABN AMRO and YWCA. In Hanoi our discovery cycling tours have become part and parcel of international tour operator’s ‘destination Vietnam’ portfolios.

We are definitely planning to expand in Hong Kong which means designing new routes and finding more ingredients to make our races even more attractive. We ‘re also working on races around a special themes such as urban photography or Chinese cooking.

4.     Any cooperation with institutions or government?

We are have developed strategic partnerships with several culture & art institutions such as the Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre and SCAD (University for Creative Careers) in Shep Kip Mei and the Cattle Depot Artist Village in To Kwa Wan. We also work together with a number of schools and universities on educational programmes as well as with local NGO’s such as the Heritage Hong Kong Foundation and Conservancy Association for Heritage (CACHe).

5.     Any difficulties you have met?

 

Like many start-up companies, yes plenty… one noteworthy anecdote is that whenever we do our team-building games in public play grounds, within minutes we usually have a security guard on our back with a slightly worried look on his/ her face, but as they are typically followed by a large crowd of old people and schoolchildren who love to get some of the action of people dressed in funny outfits doing silly games, it then turns into a big happy spectacle that everybody seems to enjoy.

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March 7: I bumped into a group of awesome people!

I went to Cattle Depot Artist Village, 63 Ma Tau Kok Road, To Kwa Wan, Kowloon, planning to have a look at the artworks of the frog king, my once interviewee target of my TYR story.

Inside the art gallery, when I was racking my mind trying to figure out what can be the news peg of my story, laughter and applauds in front of the gallery drove me out.

There were a group of westerners being busy around. Some of them were taking pictures in front of the gallery with vivid colours wig. Some of them punched the air in triumph and started to check their camera with a notebook. Some others searched their pocket for every single corn that they have…

Westerners running around the city with colourful wigs, can they be behavioral artists? On the notebooks that they were checking, were pictures of ancient pictures of Hong Kong scenarios, one of which was the Kowloon wall city!

Their passion and laughter caught my curiosity, and that was something that I haven’t heard.

I approached them.

The organizers said they were a not-for-profit organization that design trips for people in Hong Kong to discovery more about the city.

–          Ester Van Steekelenburg, the founder of Urban Discovery, said: “We want help people to discover the culture before it is too late.”

And the participants:

–          Jane Armstrong, 45, an Australian teacher, having been Hong Kong for 6 years, participated in a trip. She said: “if it is not this trip, we don’t have chance to go deep into Hong Kong. I want to go back to the Wall city, where they just went to during the trip, and check it out again.”

–          Julie Peel, 47, an Australian private business woman, having been Hong Kong 7.5 years, said: “It helps us to learn history in a funny way.”

And I got the contacts of both the organizers and the participants.

They were doing activities that related to art and culture, the theme of TYR! Their story can be my story!

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March 8, 2011 Story idea for TYR issue 7

Editor: Yoyo Sun

Reporter: Laura LUO
Issue: 7
Slug: art and culture- discover Hong Kong culture through adventures_laura_si07

What matters/interests your reader?
Both long time residence and new-comers can join the adventure to discover sites and culture of Hong Kong’s that they may not know. It is a new way to reserve Hong Kong’s culture.

Summary:
Discover traditional Hong Kong before it is too late. The Urban Discovery Challenge, a not-for-profit organization, designs adventures for participants to hunt the sites and culture of Hong Kong that they haven’t seen. The trips include temples, ancient pagoda’s, old villages, traditional architect, and vast wetlands in New Territory, historical Wall City in Kowloon, Victoria harbor from different angles and other symbolic and historical sites in Hong Kong. Participants are required to find hidden checkpoints, solve riddles and compete in mental and physical challenges.


Newspeg: (Timeliness,
is there some event / festivals to hang the story on?)

The Budget proposes to conserve heritage through cooperation with non-profit making organizations. And the Urban Discovery Challenge is planning to seek cooperation with the government. It will be a vivid example in protecting the heritage.

Angle/Tone: (You might need some preliminary reporting to write this)
A new way to reserve Hong Kong’s culture.

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