MaD Asia 2015 Conference – Part 1

I just had an opportunity to attend a 3 days-conference called MaD Asia 2015 at Kwai Tsing Theatre in Hong Kong. Coming back with tons of information, I took some time to reflect on the connections and the sharing from the forum, and jot down some notes before time slips through my fingers. If you’re one of the participants, please feel free to add in in case I have missed something.

1. What is MaD?

Founded in 2009, MaD (Make a Difference) inspires and empowers young people all over Asia to come up with creative responses to our time’s challenges at the intersection of creativity, entrepreneurship, innovation and discovery to bring about positive changes in Asia.

Formerly an anchor project of the Hong Kong Institute of Contemporary Culture, since 2014 MaD is steered by the Make A Difference Institute*, a Hong Kong-based non-profit community-initiated organization dedicated to nurturing a creative civil society. MaD supports the growth of a vibrant creative ecology, and values cross-sector synergy and co-creation opportunities, empathetic collaboration and sustainable practices.

* The Institute is in the process of applying to become a charitable organization as identified by Section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance

This year, MaD brings 1300 participants in Asia with the theme “Village reimagined” to reimagine ways to reorganize society and our lives with creativity, solidarity, and resilience towards the economy, social and ecological context.


Alright, that’s the big words from MaD official page. Mine are a bit more simple. A friend of friend has recommended me the conference. Since I knew what it was about, and took a glance at several subjects they covered in the last years, I was glad to take that occasion to learn how other countries in South East Asia that share somehow the same culture values as Vietnam, can teach their young generations about art and can apply it to daily practice to create real values. Last but not least, I’m addicted to the movements, creatively or physically. Not to mention the subsidy on airfare and ticket entrance of MaD is somehow encouraging,

I came to MaD with clear expectations on what I want to get out of the forum and what next steps can be followed for my personal project in Music Beyond Entertainment

2. Day 1



The long queue in the check-in area
With another VNese participant
My 3-day pass


Can’t help noticing the engaging environment MaD has created to embrace the story-telling presentation.


First guest: Helle SOHOLT from Gehl Architects (Denmark)

The human scale

Speaking about urbanisation, Helle challenged our view about how people move in city with high quality of life in a smart way. She brought several cases of New York, London, Argentina, Cape Town as well as Copehaghen to question how design affects behavior. The term “undo the transport dinosaurs” revealed to the small investment in design that makes larger impact. We rely on birth rate, the number of cars, the economic growth as indicator of life, regardless of more human indicator such as department for city life, data on people, pedestrian numbers, cultural impacts. People change the character of the city, that’s why we should use them as active sharpers of city life.

Some other things about Energy foundation in Beijing that I didn’t seem to follow the content.

2nd guest: Rick Lowe from Project Row Houses (US)

Sculpture Community engagement

Using social sculpture as symbolic for social safety net, Rick wanted to explore and challenge people to bring their own creativity in the process. To encourage people to engage in art, he founded the green art community where artists are involved in an on-going way together with other people who actively chose a role they wanted to take. The project redid the interior house of single mothers to motivate them to live their life in a creative, artful way. Rick also brought up his project in Dallas with a challenge to connect people in a refugee separated area. He finally came up with a market to bring people closer every weekend. Besides, Rick mentions a project in London where he shaped the cubes into social space to host the exhibitions and create a chance for people to celebrate together. From different neighborhood, different cultures, people come to each other to support their neighbors’ products sales.

3rd guest: Aliman from Sazasa Forest Museum (Taiwan)

I actually had a hard time following his speech in English, which sounds a little bit like Taiwanese to me.

Management of sustainable forest museum, how to bring the students of Taitung County to be part of the nature conservation.

Materials bringback
The first two speeches seem most interesting to me, as it unveils deeper thoughts on what I see every single day in my city. Speaking about people connection, Saigon is still a pretty friendly place. On the other side, I can relate to the question of how to promote art in daily life in the second speech. The idea seems quite like the Flea Market we have everywhere, but I guess the touch of culture and design transforms it into a more appealing perspective.

(To be continued)



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