[The Jakarta Post] Three years after its birth, the Bali Blogger Community (BBC) has grown into a virtual as well as actual medium through which the island’s bloggers share their life, communicate their passions, and, more importantly, work together to help others in need.
Last Sunday, BBC members organized a charity garage sale at the Puputan Margarana field in Renon. The sale was part of several events held to celebrate BBC’s third anniversary.
One week before the sale, BBC’s 400 members had placed a special black condolence banner on their respective blogs, social networking accounts and websites as a show of solidarity for the people of Merapi, Mentawai and Wasior.
Members donated their personal belongings and second-hand goods to raise money during the sale. They also donated their blood at the sale’s blood donor drive.
Members with a medical background set up a health clinic offering medical checkups in return for cash donations. This service targeted members of the public who usually flock the field on Sunday morning to jog or relax.
“My colleagues and I provided simple medical checkups, like reading people’s blood pressure and heart rate,” IGN Pramesemara said.
Pramesemara is a young physician who blogs regularly on teen health issues.
Rp 3.2 million was raised in the first three hours and many generous people promised to donate significant amounts of money. All revenues from this event will be sent to refugee centers in Merapi, Mentawai and Wasior.
The garage sale was the most recent charity event held by BBC. The organization also regularly provides free-of-charge IT and web training for schoolchildren from low-income families, people with disabilities, village communities and marginalized groups.
“Internet literacy is a critical factor in closing the information gap between the haves and have-nots.
Internet literacy and equal access to information will enable students from low-income families and people with disabilities to seize more opportunities and eventually enrich their life,” Anton Muhajir said.
A freelance journalist and a regular contributor for The Jakarta Post, Muhajir is a press activist who founded the Sloka Institute, which aims to promote citizen journalism and co-founded BBC.
The charity events highlighted that for the members of BBC, blogs and social networks have outgrown their initial role as a vehicle to gain personal recognition, a sort of virtual existence, and have assumed a new role as a tool to share information about a cause, and rally people in support of it.
I Made Andi Arsana’s blog, madeandi.wordpress.com, is a fine example of this sharing spirit. A lecturer at the prestigious Gadjah Mada University and an expert on geodesy, Arsana use the blog to share his knowledge about topography.
Using the freely-available data from Google Earth and Google Maps, he has helped communities and individuals create a map of their surroundings.
“In Bali, blogs, micro-blogs and social networks have succeed to be an alternative voice of society but have yet to be an alternative power that could sway and shape public opinion,” Anton Muhajir said.
In order to be this alternative power, the bloggers must have an intimate synergy with the mainstream media outlets.
“Unlike in Jakarta, where prominent media figure like Goenawan Mohamad are very active in micro-blogs and mainstream media treat social networks as a reliable source of news, here in Bali such things are a rarity. The mainstream news outlets here still distance themselves from blogs and social networks,” he said.
By educating the public on the potential of blogs and promoting Internet literacy among marginalized society BBC strives to become the future alternative voice and power of the island.
BBC is an open-for-all organization and details of this organization could be read at www.baliblogger.org
— Photos by JP/Anton Muhajir
taken from [The Jakarta Post]