Growing Through an Icon

(Below article has been 4 years old. It recounted a “habitat” where i’ve been there for several years. open mind was it keywords. [aikon!] was how it written)

IBonWEB.com – It started as the only company producing an alternative tabloid with information that was only touched on as supplementary or even trivial news by the mainstream media. Now, even after being joined in the field by a number of competitors, it has survived, having operated for more than seven years. Today, while other publications provide similar information to that of Aikon, this tabloid continues to exist, and is still distributed free-of-charge.

“To date, we have never been interested in selling Aikon. We are happy enough to see that it is still effective and sought after by the public,” Ukke R. Kosasih (37), one of the publisher’s chairpersons, said at the Aikon offices in Kemang. When asked, some people will say that producing Aikon as a free tabloid is a smart idea, while others think it is stupid. The continuing idealism of not selling the tabloid is based on its success in informing and educating the public to have a better, deeper understanding of the three aspects it covers -art, the environment, and heritage.

Moreover, the periodical’s success, Kosasih added, is closely tied to the simple approach that has been adopted. ” Perhaps our goal would be different if we embraced the whole community by organizing seminars, for instance, instead of a free paper.” So far, Aikon ‘s readers in Yogyakarta are the most loyal; they always call up the publisher if an issue is delayed. “Maybe it is because Yogya is basically a small town, so it is easier to increase public awareness there than in Jakarta and Bandung, the two other cities where the tabloid is distributed.”

An Effective Campaign

Aikon’s hallmark is its ongoing emphasis on the importance of paper recycling. Why do the publishers care about this issue? It is because people use paper every day in many of their routine activities. Jakarta, for instance, consumes about 630 tons of paper every day. Kosasih claims that, currently, only about 10 percent of this is being recycled. Yet, if the paper is not recycled, we are all actively involved in destroying our forests as a natural resource because, at very least, it takes 17 tons of wood chips to produce just one ton of paper. “Avoiding paper recycling means we consume an additional 37 [F1]trees per day for every ton of paper,” Kosasih said, explaining the mathematics involved. Indonesia, as one of the world’s biggest pulp and paper producers, plays a very significant role overall in pulp and paper supply. Therefore, the national and international demand for paper has contributed to the large-scale destruction of the Indonesian tropical rainforest, and will continue to do so unless harvesting can be controlled.

“Ironically, we import more than two million tons of used paper every year from Germany,” Kosasih revealed. This has only happened because of the low level of awareness about paper recycling here. The imported paper is reprocessed, forming the main material of newsprint. Therefore, many newspaper companies were forced to close down when inflation hit Indonesia in 1997, as they could not buy the newsprint, which had become too expensive. “It is ironic that that the pulp and paper industry has blindly destroyed large areas of our forests, yet we can’t meet domestic demand for paper,” Kosasih sighed.

Based on the disturbing reality above, Aikon decided to promote a number of other ways to sensibly prevent forest damage. “People don’t have to become experts to be concerned about the environment,” she said. “They can start through modifying their lifestyle.” Aikon stimulates city dwellers to get emotionally involved and motivated, and especially so the middle class, to begin paper recycling. Pakai Lagi (usually shortened to Pa- Gi )-meaning recycling- is an Aikon campaign program launched in May 1996 that promoted recycling, recollecting, and classifying trash, especially paper.

So what is the easiest way to recycle paper? Kosasih explained that collecting and classifying used paper and then dropping off the bundles of the various types at the collection center is the best way to do it. Aikon’s offices in Kemang, for instance, use its large yard as the local used paper-collecting center. At least 66 institutions and more than a hundred individual participants support this program. To stir a company into recycling used paper, Aikon offers to display its logo in the tabloid if it participates in the program.

The Pa-Gi program has also twice successfully held Minggu Kertas (Paper Week) as a fun educational program to stimulate awareness of paper recycling. These paper weeks were held in 1997 and 2001. One of the programs held during the week is a paper collecting competition that involves individuals, companies, schools, and institutions. In the last Minggu Kertas held in October, the participants collected 6,473.5 kg of paper in total. Music sheets, kite production, and recycled paper workshops are some of the other programs held during the week. “Over 3000 visitors came to the West Plaza of the Bung Karno Sports Stadium in Senayan to take part in Minggu Kertas,” Kosasih claimed.

From being only a printed publication Aikon has now spread into the virtual media, with offprint programs, acting as a data provider, and even a television program under the Yayasan Aikon Media Publik (Aikon Public Media Foundation). The offprint programs stress public participation. Gelar Kebon and Berbagi are examples that involve readers’ participation. Gelar Kebon invites readers to develop public concern for the Ragunan Zoo and is an instrument for promoting conservation in general, education, research, as well as recreation. In 1995 and 1996 Gelar Kebon successfully organized Tur de Zu – or Tour de Zoo- rallies to bolster support for the Rawamangun Zoo that were both marked by the participation of large numbers of children. Berbagi or sharing is an informal discussion about any interesting topics, which have to date included street children, digital art, and the Discovery Channel production process.

Inseparable from Recycled Paper

Aikon was founded by Enrico Halim (37), a graphic designer, who had scraped together Rp 6 million profit from the many projects he had carried out in 1994. Wondering how to spend it, he finally decided to publish a magazine printed on Samson craft, a brown local recycled paper, which was almost never used that way at the time. This paper was mostly used here as wrapping-paper for food. Halim got the inspiration for launching a significant tabloid to satisfy his heartfelt desire to produce a good quality publication that expressed his concerns for open mindedness, freedom, and care for the environment.

The tabloid’s first edition (with 15 thousand copies released) was distributed in Jakarta, Bandung, and Yogya. Cafés, hotels, cultural and educational centers were the target distributors. Today, there are more than 100 centers that have become Aikon distribution centers. Halim’s target market is the urban middle class, because he believes that this group has the potential to become the motor of change. To his surprise, readers greeted the launch of the tabloid very enthusiastically. Later, Halim released Aikon as a bi-weekly, before it became a monthly tabloid.

At present about 12.500 copies are distributed for each issue. Kosasih, who joined the paper six months after the first edition was launched, revealed that the production cost of each issue is Rp 25-30 million. How do they finance this? ” Mostly, we get the funding from our id.visual.consultant, the for-profit business division that we developed together. Besides which, more than 200 institutions support Aikon through commercial arrangements, barter, and mutual aid,” she explained. Id.visual.consultant is a commercial company that gifts part of its profits to fund the tabloid. Starting out with only two workers, Aikon now employs 20 staff.

The paper is now busy preparing for a big change that is to occur by the end of the year. “It will be published in a new, more weighty, format as an expression of our thanks to our readers for their appreciation and trust in us,” Kosasih disclosed happily. LANIANA D. GAUTAMA

(Artikel aslinya di sini )

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