Our future's worth sweating over
Judging from the sweat dripping down on to my keyboard, I'm certain Bangkok has become too hot to handle. The phrase "global warming" has echoed in my head over and over, like a chant from hell. It is happening now _ and what luck, we have no way out.
While spending an afternoon in a shopping mall for free air conditioning, I discovered something quite thrilling online _ do you know that there are green spaces as large as 400 rai in the hustling and bustling city of Bangkok?According to the environmental movement Makkasan Hope, one such space is does exist in Makkasan district, right in the heart of the city. But time is running out, as there is an attempt to turn it into _ what Bangkok already seems overloaded with _ another shopping complex.
This precious lush green land is owned by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT). The land, located near the Airport Rail Link's Makkasan station, is estimated to be worth at least 300 billion baht. Besides a number of large trees and a big swamp, it is also a shunting yard and train-repair warehouse, which was built in 1922. In 2006, the warehouse was listed for conservation by the Association of Siamese Architects.
Imagine if we had Bangkok's very own version of Central Park between Makkasan and Phaya Thai. Isn't this the best gift we could present to future generations? Isn't this a glimmer of hope on a hot March day that's making everyone curse the climate?
Environmentalists and nature lovers are campaigning online to get 10,000 signatures in order to propose Makkasan Hope's ideas to the government for consideration. This promising project asks for the land to be a new public park and cultural space.
It is not only just a space for fresh air (which city dwellers are really short of) but a space where people of different walks of life can be united: from a family meeting venue to a stage for aspiring local artists. If you want a shopping complex, there's one only a few minutes away, we already have the Pratunam and Ratchaprasong shopping districts to fulfil such needs.
However, the owner is SRT and apparently the organisation has chronic financial problems _ and the Makkasan land development represents their glimmer of hope.
But the question is: do we think money is everything or should we consider the importance of quality of life?
It is sad that we keep hearing news about buildings and places being demolished. It is sad to hear how terrible the traffic is in the city, yet people are being encouraged to buy more cars instead of doing the opposite to solve the traffic and pollution problems.
We can make a change, at the very least we are entitled to voice our thoughts about what is best for us as citizens. If you think you deserve more oxygen and a better atmosphere in the city, put your name on the online petition at www.change.org/MakkasanHope or learn more about the movement at www.facebook.com/MakkasanHope.
Yanapon Musiket writes about art and entertainment for Life and has a monthly column, Queer Eye, dedicated to gay rights and gender diversity.