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Along Stirling Road, opposite Queenstown Polyclinic and tucked between Blk 46 and 48, several residents stand under a tent set up on a grass patch, belting out songs from the 70s and 80s.

It’s just another Saturday morning for the residents of this cosy corner of Queenstown.

By the side of the grass patch, several tables are set up. On one sits an assortment of succulents together with plastic and glass bowls of soil, coloured sand and small rocks.

On another is a simple but hearty spread — fried rice, sandwiches and packet drinks — all contributed by residents.

Children scamper, laughing as grown-ups mill about, bonding over food and drink.

It’s a gathering of about 30 people, chatting and interacting, drawing curious stares from passers-by, some even deciding on the spur of the moment to join in the festivities.

“Come come, it’s open to all,” one of the residents, Rebecca Lim, tells them.

Meet the Queenstown Kakis

Residents at the Pallet Play event in Sept 2022. Image source: Queenstown Kakis

Every first and third Saturday of the month, from 9.30am till noon, this community of neighbours gather to participate in a variety of arts & craft and gardening activities at the grass patch opposite Queenstown Polyclinic.

The Queenstown Kakis, or QTK as they call themselves, hope to build kampung spirit with activities and food in a safe space for residents to interact.

It may be called Queenstown Kakis, but anyone can join in. There are 250 members in its public Telegram channel where upcoming events are publicised.

“We get together every month to plan the events and take in suggestions from other residents,” says Rexanna Kok, or Rex, as the other core volunteers call her.

While the core volunteers are the main organisers, residents contribute too — preparing refreshments, helping with set-up or settling logistics.

Rebecca adds: “Sometimes, residents themselves lead the activity, like Jee and Cecilia, who like gardening. They conducted a mini succulent gardening workshop for everyone.”

Residents having fun at Pallet Play in conjunction with Archifest 2022 in Sept 2022. Image source: Queenstown Kakis

Since their first pop-up on 16 April in 2022, Queenstown Kakis, or QTK, has hosted earring-making, lantern-making and drumming workshops; residents even play kampung games. In Sept, QTK organised Pallet Play, supported by Archifest 2022, where residents got together to upcycle wooden pallets into community furniture.

The point is to keep the activities new and fresh; much of the success comes also from the enthusiasm of the residents, says Rebecca.

“It has been amazing how their contributions have enabled neighbours of all ages to come together over breakfast, conversations and activities,” she says.

Hospitality first

Meet the core volunteers of QTK! (From left, front row) Rexanna, Melissa, Lyne. (From left, back row) Rebecca, Lydia, Yu Khing, Janice, Jamie, Flora. Image source: Queenstown Kakis

As we are chatting with Rex, a police car pulls up. Turns out, someone from a nearby block had made a noise complaint about the gathering.

Rebecca quickly resolved the issue — QTK has all the necessary permits to use the space.

She tells the cops: “We have permission to use this space every first and third Saturday each month. Let me show you the email from the town council.”

Instead of getting upset about the interruption, Rebecca adds jovially: “Why not ask them to come down and join us and find out what’s going on? We are very friendly here!”

What people say

Completed mini succulent garden with the help of the friendly neighbours! Image source: Ashley Tan

As the cops drive off, Rebecca tells me that this was the first time something like this has happened — most of the residents are very receptive to what they do.

“People like that we’re not from (any outside organisation) but a group of passionate neighbours coming together to build our kampung spirit,” she says.

Most of the time, curious passers-by would kaypoh their Saturday events and they are often surprised when they find out that it’s a community-led initiative.

Rex adds: “WIthout us asking them, they even ask how they can contribute!”

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“I like coming to the activities as I get to share my love for cooking with neighbours and I really enjoy the chit chats,” shares Said, 54, a Queenstown resident who says he has enjoyed cooking since he was 18 years old.

The events draw residents of all ages.

“I get bored at home. So I enjoy coming to the activities, meeting new friends, exchanging perspectives, and learning new things. I enjoy sharing and have gained so much!” says Cecilia, 70, a Queenstown resident who loves plants and is a regular volunteer for gardening activities.

Residents come for the workshops but stay for the camaraderie. Image source: Queenstown Kakis

Rebecca says that since they started last year, every Saturday pop-up has been memorable — people are constantly making new connections and bringing different contributions to the growing community. The team at QTK hopes that more neighbours will join their events and that the ground-up initiative can be an inspiration for other neighbourhoods.

They have come a long way from their first gardening pop-up where they bonded over pots, soil, seeds, seedlings and plants.

Rebecca exclaims: “(Even back then) there was such a community buzz of joy as neighbours exchanged gardening tips and plants!”

Celebrating first year anniversary

Image source: Queenstown Kakis

If you’re looking for a family friendly weekend activity or simply want to hang out with new people, you’re in luck! QTK’s events happen every first and third Saturday of the month. The next event is on 15 April from 9.30am to 12 noon and it’s an extra special event because the residents will be celebrating QTK’s first anniversary.

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It will be a booming celebration — with song dedications, dance and even drumming! If you love food, bring your own for sharing at the neighbourhood potluck!

Find out more at Queenstown Kakis’ Telegram channel here.

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Top Image: Queenstown Kakis