05 December 2014

What makes Ubin Day special: The Ubin Day 2014 report

Ubin Day was made possible by MOS Desmond Lee, the extraordinary 30 Organising Groups and the amazing staff at Ubin NParks. And of course, the irreplacable Sumita Thiagarajan, who as intern with wildsingapore, quietly laid the foundations for Ubin Day months earlier.
Sumita (in hat) with MOS Desmond
speaking to the Prime Minister
Photo by Johnson Ong
And we are all excited to do it again! Thanks to feedback and data from the Organising Groups, I did a brief report to help us do a better Ubin Day the next time!

The full report with Appendices is available on google docs: http://tinyurl.com/UbinDay2014report

Significance of Ubin Day

Ubin Day brings together Organising Groups who are not only passionate about Ubin. They act for Ubin. Constructively, on key issues, all year round.
Appreciating Kampong Dogs with Save Our Street Dogs

Ubin Day is an opportunity to build trust and goodwill among this broad spectrum of Organising Groups. Relationships that will strengthen Project Ubin, particularly as the Project begins to tackle less easy issues.
Explore Ubin Quarry, a once-in-a-lifetime experience
with Republic Polytechnic and Outward Bound Singapore
attracted nearly 300 participants!
Photo by Toh Chay Hoon

Ubin Day participation

We are glad to hear that most Organising Groups are keen to support the next Ubin Day. We sense this is because on Ubin Day 2014, they were given the support and space to do what they are most passionate about. Celebrate Ubin, show others how to appreciate Ubin and make a difference for Ubin issues important to them.
Getting the swing of it at the Fly Fishing Demo and Clinic
with Gamefish And Aquatic Rehabilitation Society (GARS)
Photo by GARS
Pedal Ubin made a comeback for one day only, on Ubin Day!
Photo by Chim Chee Kong

Those who had the chance, were especially delighted to be able to speak to the PM and share their passion with him.
Bee Choo Ng-Strange was pleased to be able to give the PM
a copy of 'Wild Animals of Singapore' at the Learn about Ubin critters
with the Vertebrate Study Group, Nature Society (Singapore)
Photo by Morten Strange

About 860 participants and 160 volunteers from 31 Organising Groups were directly involved in activities that were open to the public.
50 volunteers at the Coastal Cleanup with
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
collected 58 bags of trash over 2 hours
Photo by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

The exhibition booths reported 100-120 visitors. There is probably some double counting as volunteers participated in other events and participants may have joined more than one event.
At The Green Volunteers booth, the PM met Grant Pereira
who organised the first Ubin Day in April 2002
with the Singapore Environment Council.

At the exhibitions, most of the visitors were families with kids under 12, with young adults (students in JC or university) forming the next largest group. Here's a video clip of some exhibition visitors who had a Happy Ubin Day thanks to the Your Ubin Stories team by NUS Architecture.

Participants in events included families with young children, students, young adults and tourists.
Uncle Andrew uses an ancient TV antenna to point
during the Afternoon Wildlife Watch, a walk for kids
by Cicada Tree Eco-Place
Photo by Kwan Tze Fung

Ubin Day also appears to be an opportunity for Ubin lovers to bring their friends and family for the first time to Ubin. Some Organising Groups estimate 5-20% of participants were first timers to Ubin, while up to 30% were visiting for the first time after a long absence.
Johnson Ong (in blue) is the champion supporter of Ubin Day!
Via his U Volunteers page, he brought 17 friends to volunteer for the Day
and made a valiant attempt to attend every Ubin Day event!

Feedback from Organising Groups

Most report that participants greatly enjoyed their activities and were eager to join again. I believe this is because events were generally for small groups (not mass events), with personal attention by passionate Organisers and volunteers.
Taking advantage of the dark skies of Pulau Ubin.
an intimate Stargazing session by the NUS Astronomical Society
Only on Ubin and only on Ubin Day,
a live performance by You Tube star Inch Chua at the wayang stage
with kampung audience of people on mats,
complete with kampung dogs.
Photo by Toh Chay Hoon.
"I drew this!" exclaims a young artist on the marvelous Ubin Map
that resulted from the Ubin Drawing Workshop by
the Singapore Contemporary Young Artists

In small groups with a 1:1 guide:visitor ratio
enjoy the tranquil waters of Jelutong mangroves in
Mangrove Kayaking for families with
the Marine Conservation Group, Nature Society (Singapore)

One interesting observation was that some Organising Groups found Ubin Day visitors to be authentic and ‘organic’. In contrast with having visitors who are ‘bused in’, all wearing the same t-shirt. Such ‘canned’ groups tend to just want to get freebies then leave.
A delightful group of friends who enthusiastically
posed at the Kampung Photo Booth!

Key suggestions from Organising Groups include having Ubin Day over a weekend so events can be spaced out. This may also alleviate crowding at amenities and transportation.

The bumboat jam on Ubin Day 2014 led to a high rate of no-shows for morning events like the Mountain Biking Clinic and upset the already packed schedule at the Quarry Kayaking.
Bumboats queued for half an hour due to security arrangements
for the PM's visit to Ubin Day.
Photo by Marcus Ng

The lessons learnt from Ubin Day 2014 will hopefully improve the next one. Thanks to the great feedback by the Organising Groups!

Social media outreach

With virtually zero mainstream media pre-advertising, the Ubin Day turnout is probably mostly the result of Organising Groups advertising within their own circles, sharing through word-of-mouth and the volunteer social media effort.
November Tan of the Pulau Ubin Stories blog
manned the social media resources on Ubin Day ensuring
constant updates on all the excitement.

The Ubin Day facebook page reached more people online than actual participation on the Day itself. The top 5 activities (number of people reached):

  • 10,300: 'Open House' at Pulau Ubin fish farms
  • 3,900: Mangrove Kayaking for families with the Marine Conservation Group, NSS
  • 3,800: Photography Workshop by the Nature Photographic Society, Singapore
  • 3,400: Natural Heritage Cycling Tour with Pedal Ubin
  • 3,100: Explore Ubin Quarry with Outward Bound Singapore and Republic Polytechnic

Fans of the Ubin Day facebook page were mostly young adults (25-34 yrs) (36%) and people with families (35-44 years) (28%). Total fans reached 1,000 about two months after the page was set up. In comparison, it took about a year to reach this number of fans for the Celebrating Singapore’s Biodiversity facebook page.

Organising Groups were encouraged by the many online comments supporting the protection of Pulau Ubin on the PM’s facebook posts about Ubin Day (video and photos).

“The Ubin Way on Ubin Day”

I came up with this term after the “Imagine Ubin” Leafmonkey Workshop raised that we should behave differently on Ubin. Organising Groups were invited to suggest and implement elements of “The Ubin Way on Ubin Day” (listed in Appendix D). The theme of Ubin Day 2014 as illustrated on the badge was: On Ubin, we greet others with a smile. Say "Hello, how was your day on Pulau Ubin?"
The beautiful Ubin Day 2014 badge was designed
by Rebecce Lee of the Green Beans, SOTA.
Photo by Kenneth Pinto

Shortly after circulating “The Ubin Way on Ubin Day” idea, I was asked if the FUN Group could take up the term “The Ubin Way”. I readily agreed and was delighted that the FUN Group would develop this concept further beyond Ubin Day.

Other Ubin Day impacts

I was glad to hear from Mr KP Tan, who helps at the first bicycle shop from the jetty, that they had 3 times more business than usual, with all their bicycles rented out, including those not rented out for months. I have not had a chance to check with the other businesses.
Mr KP Tan returning a puppy to its mom
after it wandered off too far.
Photo by Debby Ng.
It would be nice if agencies could share with Organising Groups any data they have on visitorship, impact during or other feedback on Ubin Day 2014. So that we may improve on the next Ubin Day.

Thank you!

Minister, your support was key in allowing us to revive Ubin Day after more than a decade. On behalf of the Organising Groups, we would like to thank you!

We would also like to specially thank Yang Shufen, and Choi Yook Sau, Grace Ang and all staff at Ubin NParks, for their patience and attention to the needs of the Organising Groups and volunteers.

Yours sincerely,

Ria Tan with Sumita Thiagarajan

There are many many people that Sumita and I should thank. Here's photos of just a few of them. Thank you everyone for making Ubin Day 2014 happen!
Team who came the day before to help haul gear over and set up.
Mama Faizah Jamal (who started plotting about Ubin with MOS Desmond
which resulted in Project Ubin that made Ubin Day possible)
and the young people who helped keep Ubin Day FUN!
The team who helped bring snacks for
the volunteers located away from Ubin Town, and
who helped set up for the evening show at the Wayang Stage.
And the team who stayed back at the end to break down
and haul stuff back to the mainland

Did you attend Ubin Day? Do you have feedback about it? Please leave a comment or email me hello@wildsingapore. Help us to make the next Ubin Day better!

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