Sunday, November 2, 2008

Friends of the Park NGO

While I know that our letter writing campaign will raise awareness of this cause, I think a more organized effort is needed to protect the Children’s Park and other open spaces in Ulaanbaatar. The way forward would be the creation of a conservancy like the one that protects New York City’s Central Park. There are many other models to use, such as the San Francisco Park’s Trust and The Royal Parks in London. Obviously, the first goal of the Children’s Park conservancy would be to make sure the park does not disappear altogether! Having accomplished that it would work to protect all open spaces in Ulaanbaatar (well, those that still exist, anyway).

A conservancy that could be registered as an NGO would be most effectively initiated by Mongolians based in Ulaanbaatar. If any UB-based Mongolians reading this blog feels passionate about saving the last open spaces in the city, please feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to discuss ideas.

A Letter to the President

While I feel that the prime minister can help our cause immeasurably, we should not forget the considerable influence that President Enkhbayar wields in Mongolia. If you are still thinking of sending in a letter of the support for the park, I request that you please send in two letters, one addressed to the prime minister and one addressed to the president. Both letters will reach their respective destinations. Thanks also to everyone who has already mailed a letter, I’ll make sure it gets to Prime Minister Bayar.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Letter Writing Campaign

In order to save the Children’s Park we’ve got to start somewhere. A letter writing campaign seems like a good place to raise awareness. I plan to collect letters and hand-deliver them to Prime Minister Bayar. If you would like to have your letter delivered to Prime Minister Bayar, please type it out, sign it at the bottom and mail to the following address:

Michael Kohn

Children’s Park Campaign

1045 Macadamia Dr

Burlingame, CA 94010

USA

The following is a form letter you can use to copy, print out, sign and send. You can add to it by writing your own thoughts, concerns and stories. It’s just a template to get you started. Please try to send your letters by November 15…

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Dear Prime Minster Bayar,

I am writing to you out of concern for the closed Children’s Park. I understand that the park has been slated for redevelopment and will be filled with apartment blocks and office buildings. I regret this decision and urge you to take any means from developing the park commercially. It must remain a public place for use by the citizens of Ulaanbaatar.

As the only park in the city it needs to be preserved and maintained for the benefit of all Mongolians. The park is a haven of peace and quiet in the center of the busy city, a place where families can relax and children can play. Saving the park will promote good health as citizens can use it for walking, jogging and biking. The park is a monument for the city and admired by foreign visitors who come to Ulaanbaatar for business and pleasure. The park breaks up the urban sprawl and its greenery reduces air pollution.

The park does not need major redevelopment. It does not need a fancy amusement park or shops. It should be saved as an open space with pathways, small ponds, grassy fields and trees. I urge you to stop any development projects and to save the Children's Park for future generations of Monglians.

Thank you,

 

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Facebook Following

I’ve started a Facebook group to rally more online support and awareness of the shenanigans going down in the Children’s Park. Here is the link.  Follow it, get on it!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

An Open Letter to the Concerned Residents of Ulaanbaatar

Children’s Park – Doomed?

Is the city of Ulaanbaatar, a metropolis with more than one million people, about to lose its one and only park? Its sounds hard to believe but come this time next year the park may be lost forever.

The Children’s Park was boarded up two years ago and has been closed ever since. The Japanese firm Itochu (along with Golomt Bank) said it planned to build an amusement park, which never came to be. Now, rumor has it, the park has been divided up and sold to developers (including MCS) who plan to turn it into another drab gated apartment complex.

This would be utterly tragic. As it stands now the city has barely an inch of open space to walk freely, exercise and breathe fresh air. Last summer I had a hard time keeping in shape because there was simply no place to jog – by 8am the streets were clogged with traffic and fumes. Not only had the Children’s Park closed by numerous other playgrounds and fields have been stolen by greedy real estate developers.

I longed for a park, jogging track or open field on which to stretch my legs. Alas, there was no where to go, save the distant outskirts of the city. Parks are an essential part of any city and one is desperately needed in Ulaanbaatar

This Children’s Park belongs to the people of the Ulaanbaatar. The parties responsible for the sale of this park should explain their reasoning for selling property belonging to the people of Mongolia and account for the monies earned by it. How much was the park sold for and will the money be put into developing new open space for the public? The people of Ulaanbaatar surely have the right to know the answers to these questions.

When discussing this matter with Mongolians I received a common response, shoulders would shrug, people would complain about corrupt officials but lament that it was “too late” to do anything. On the contrary, it is not too late. No buildings have been built on the Children’s Park so it is still very possible to revoke the building permits and save the park for future generations. But once building does get started it will be impossible to reverse the course of action and the park will be lost forever. Now is the time to act.

If you care about Ulaanbaatar, quality of life in the city and the health of its citizens, please act now to save the park. Copy this letter and forward it to concerned parties and Mongolia’s Members of Parliament. There is strength in numbers so the more people who react to this critical issue the better chance we have of saving the park. Make your voice be heard!

Thank you,

Michael Kohn