Idle protesters push for life in the slow lane

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 August, 2011, 12:00am


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Flee the shopping malls and unwind by lazing on a lawn.

That was the message more than 100 internet users tried to get across in a peaceful protest on a grassy area in Kwun Tong yesterday against consumerism and 'keep off the grass' signs.

The lazing protesters were Facebook users who responded to an invitation to an event held by Slow Summer and Lawnmap, two groups that promote a slower pace of life and encourage free use of the city's lawns.

They picnicked on the central lawn of Jordan Valley Park in the afternoon, while playing guitars, sketching or simply playing games.

'We want to enjoy ourselves in a way that's very different from the modern way of living, without having to see advertisements and being urged to spend and eat,' said Thickest Choi Chi-hau, the 27-year-old University of Hong Kong research assistant who is behind Lawnmap.

More than 160 people said on Facebook that they would attend the event, and about 100 turned up. Conscious of the erratic turnout of internet-initiated events, Choi said it was 'much better than expected'.

'We thought only 40 or 50 would really come, so the event was a big success,' he said. 'It shows that the people of Hong Kong are receptive to, or even like, the idea that on a Sunday afternoon like this, we can spend some quality time in places other than shopping malls.'

There was also a 'simple' concert in the evening. 'Basically, those with guitars who want to play will play songs one by one, and we all can sing to them.'

Choi said it was important for more Hongkongers to be aware of the human need to be 'totally themselves', of doing what they wanted, rather than always spending money.

Lawnmap's website shows green areas to unwind, from government parks to wild grasslands. Users can contribute by adding the location and photos of unmapped lawns.

Choi said he would also work with A Parking Date, another social group that rents parking spots and turns them into interactive and human-friendly areas for the day.