"It's amazing how this project has unknowingly reunited our family in powerful ways": The HappyUrns initiative

“It’s amazing how this project has unknowingly reunited our family in powerful ways”: The HappyUrns initiative

“What is something that brought you joy today?” That’s the question one is encouraged to contemplate as one explores the website of HappyUrns, an initiative to help different groups of Singaporeans engage meaningfully with death and end-of-life topics with their loved ones. With team members Amanda Swee and Adya Sadanand, we have a thoughtful conversation about their three projects – “Residents’ Urns”, the “Celebration Kit”; and the “Life in a Year Book” – and for each project you’ll hear powerful stories and reflections of their design experiences and interpersonal interactions. This episode is a great complement to an earlier episode with representatives of “Both Sides, Now”, who work to normalise end-of-life conversations through artistic projects and public engagement. 

COVID-19's effect on children's outdoor play and associations with family income (with Dr. Jonathan Huang)

COVID-19’s effect on children’s outdoor play and associations with family income (with Dr. Jonathan Huang)

Using two child cohorts, Dr. Jonathan Huang and his team at the Singapore Institute for Clinical Studies at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research sought to understand – in a journal article – the lifestyle changes experienced by Singaporean children after the country’s circuit-breaker as well as the potential long-term outcomes. In our conversation, we learn more about the research findings and methodology, future directions, and the potential practice and policy implications.

“Grief doesn't have an expiry date”: Normalising conversations around the end of life, death, and dying with dignity (Both Sides, Now’s “Kata-Kata Kita”)

“Grief doesn’t have an expiry date”: Normalising conversations around the end of life, death, and dying with dignity (Both Sides, Now’s “Kata-Kata Kita”)

Since 2013, “Both Sides, Now” has sought to normalise end-of-life conversations, by creating artistic projects and engaging Singaporeans at public locations such as hospitals, town centres, senior homes and HDB void decks. Last year, in 2021, the project researched and engaged the Malay community, culminating in the “Kata-Kata Kita” variety show. And behind this endeavour was a multi-disciplinary team of creatives and researchers, three of whom are with us today. With artistic director Kok Heng Leun, lead artist Adib Kosnan, and research team member Siti Hazirah Bte Mohamad, we chat about the genesis of “Both Sides, Now”, the experience of staging the “Kata-Kata Kita” variety show, and the project’s upcoming public engagement programme in Bedok this year.

COVID-19, over 716 days later (Photo by Ng Shi Wen)

COVID-19, over 716 days later: Confronting Singapore’s long-term, pandemic-linked social challenges

So much ink has been spilled on Singapore’s healthcare and public health response to the ongoing pandemic. Yet, there will be an end to COVID-19, and the start of 2022 feels like a good time to shift some of the public focus to our country’s long-term, pandemic-linked social challenges. In this short episode, I summarise the most urgent and obvious problems – migrant, healthcare, and economically disadvantaged essential workers – before detailing four challenges which have received less attention: First, the harm to children, adolescents, and youths; second, compounded socio-economic inequality; third, social isolation; and fourth, ambiguous loss and unresolved grief.