What makes an inclusive community space? Is it the barrier-free facilities? Is it the people?
Is it just the fresh organic produce, tasty nut butters, vegan ice cream and all-day indie music?
We posed these questions to several visitors at last month’s Farmer’s Market here at the Enabling Village, which was organised by the Central Singapore Community Development Council. The answers were as diverse as the visitors and their reasons for coming.
1. The hardware.
Visitors to the Enabling Village, even residents in the area, often express surprise that such an oasis of green exists in the heart of Redhill, and a barrier-free one at that. People who came to the Farmer’s market were no different.
“You can see people from all walks coming into this neighbourhood location and interacting,” said Simon Johan, 30, a scientist. “It’s important to make places like Enabling Village an accessible community space in order to bring people, both disabled and abled, together.”
2. The music.
The open mic session at the Farmer’s Market was significantly longer than the one at our last bazaar. And the crowds seemed to appreciate it, filling up the lazy chairs that were set up around the stage.
“I feel that concept of bringing together local creatives and persons with disabilities to offer their skills and talents is just the start of building an inclusive community.” – Nur Khairunnisa, 20, student and musician
3. It’s a place to show up.
Being accessible is important to community spaces because it means people with disabilities can participate without worrying about being excluded. Everyone, with or without disabilites, should get out more.
“Events in places such as Enabling Village help bring exposure to persons with disabilities,” said Isabelle Lim, 22, the event photographer who also has Nagar Syndrome.
4. Makers and sellers of special things can reach a special audience.
If you make or sell your own things, you need to talk directly to customers to know what they like. A Farmer’s Market set in an inclusive community space lets you reach a diverse audience.
“Craftsmanship requires both knowledge and skill,” said Katherine Oh, 80, a regular visitor at artisan market events. “But to elevate the quality of their products, craftsmen also need to meet and talk to more customers. Markets such as these encourage and inspire local enterprises.”
5. Everyone gets to use their hands.
It’s a fact: Everyone, children and adults alike, loves to make beautiful things with their own hands. In the age of smartphones and the internet, making things for pleasure gain a special significance.
“We have been teaching a group of people with disabilities on how to do a version of decoupage. It’s a chance for them to learn something new and exercise their hands, motor movement and coordination,” said Debbie Ang, 56, a decoupage trainer from My Art Piece. “Ultimately, we are interested in exploring different avenues and would like to teach decoupage to all communities, abled and disabled, as well as various age groups.”