A recently established historical and cultural community in Surakarta, Central Java, is seeking to encourage people to analyze history and preserve the region’s culture. Initiated by Heri Priyatmoko, a historian and lecturer at Sanata Dharma Yogyakarta, Solo Societeit was born on May 6 out of a concern over neglected historical sites in Surakarta and the lack of social contributions to the cultural sector, especially among the youth.
Currently, the community has 10 members who come from different backgrounds yet have a similar interest in history. “There’s no centrism in this community, so all of us can contribute,” Heri told kompas.com.
Among the activities conducted by the community so far are a discussion, talks about history and napak tilas (commemoration) to historical places; all aligned with the community’s aim to inspire people to discover their own history.
“So far we do it in a fun way, through storytelling, song, travel. We’re more into outdoor [activities] instead of boring in-room discussion,” said Heri. “Learning about history is fun, don’t make it too serious.”
To convey knowledge, Solo Societeit tries to use valid sources and its members are also open to different opinions during their discussions. “We accept debate [because] this is when information-sharing happens – the knowledge is there,” Heri said.
The sources that are used by the community are a combination of written texts and folklore from credible sources. During their trips, the participants are asked to explore and experience the historical sites followed by joining a discussion afterward. Heri said they first conduct some research before sharing the information to the public and that they also present the sources they use.
Interestingly, all their activities are self-funded by the members. “There’s no funding from [outside the members], it’s 100 percent from our own pocket. If it’s not because of our idealism, it wouldn’t happen,” Heri said.