When You’re Green You’re Growing

© 2011 Tiago Marques

“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.” ~ Confucius

Journal, 28 November 2011. Singapore.


I arrive at the Singapore City Gallery one minute before noon, feeling surprisingly energised despite the little amount of sleep.

Yvonne, the CSer who works here and told me about this place, is ready to begin our tour. We spend the next hour exploring the history and ideas behind the creation of Singapore.

A young nation, only 50 years old (since they declared independence from Malaysia), they’re geographically so small they cannot even harvest enough fresh water to nourish the entire island, having to buy water from Malaysia. And whatever they can build underground they will – from transportation networks to ammunition storage, dozens of miles deep within, countless tunnels.

Two details in particular capture my attention: one, the island is growing. Literally. They’ve been importing sand from overseas and using it to widen the territory for several decades now. This causes some tensions with neighbouring countries, who attempt to boycott the import process with some political pressure here and there.

Two, Singapore has a strategic landuse plan – a vision of itself 50 years into the future – which guides their expansion agenda. The Urban Redevelopment Authority revises the plan every 10 years by holding focus group meetings, studying demographics and other factors to check if the concept still makes sense, and creates a plan to help materialise it.

A young island-nation that is growing physically, planning it’s own maturing on a conceptual level and guided by a compelling vision of what the future might hold.

My mind lingers on this idea. It sounds beautifully organic, almost sentient.


• Yvonne’s time and insights on Singapore. Food for thought – I wonder if I too could learn to visualise my life 50 years in the future?

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