Friends of Nana Entertainment Plaza (F.O.N.E.P.)
Calling on the Stickman community – it’s time to get organised! The small changes we are starting to see and hear about are only a small taste of what is possible with a little well directed effort. One very elegant column followed up by several honest emails and change has started – security first and now access. Think of the possibilities.
I, like many visiting this website, can remember my first trip to Nana Entertainment Plaza (N.E.P); for me, over a decade ago. At the time, I did not know of its existence. I was walking past, saw the bright lights and hubbub of activity and was drawn in. Those “innocent” wide eyes with the cover of darkness did not see the squalor lurking in the corners…indeed, I couldn’t truthfully say if it was there back then, but expect it was. N.E.P. in daylight hours is another story and these now somewhat older eyes do see beyond the neon.
While the last ten years haven’t been kind, even in its current state, and not disregarding the many “Nana is a dump” comments, I get the strong feeling that N.E.P. is something worth saving. The question is how?
The facts…what we have here is an institution, loved by many – local and visitors, that is suffering from ownership politics and uncertainty, funding, common zones, and an incredible level of foot traffic…..what else is like this to some extent?
Museums, Historic Mansions, Zoos, …the list goes on
All these places have at least two things that N.E.P. does not…
– Admission Charges
– Friends…as in “Friends of said Mansion, Zoo or Museum”
Both of the above could be used to good effect to “clean up the dump”. I’d be interested in the opinion of others but an admission charge would be my least preferred…administration, legal implications, hiring of contractors to do
the cleaning, security of the “take” etc. Maybe there is a way for a first drink card system (200B) to work but again it sounds like some hard admin work.
So, I’m left with F.O.N.E.P. – think of the possibilities…
Oh boy! How about a working bee? Before you all start groaning, let’s think this through…
Bangkok is hot, damn hot! The working bee would have to be during the day time, it would need lots of water … high pressure water. Perhaps we can coincide the first one with Songkran…put those street urchins to work with their water blasters. Get the girls involved…bikinis, T-shirts…they can be F.O.N.E.P. members too.
A bit of planning wouldn’t go astray…start at the top and work down. I’ve been truly amazed at the difference a high pressure spray can make to the appearance of a wall or pathway…have some fun along the way and a BBQ to follow. Once we are clean…it’s about surface preparation and paint…again, make a day of it, section by section, level by level…don’t try to eat the elephant!
Where does the money come from? Well, F.O.N.E.P. is a privilege that comes with a cost…there would be a modest joining fee but we would have to look for sponsorship – contribution from the lease holders, bar owners etc Perhaps some fund raisers along the way in the broader Soi 4 Community who would all benefit from the “dumps’” renovation. Think also of the merchandising opportunities…F.O.N.E.P. T-shirts, badges, caps. Participation gear for the various working bees. Based on Stick's column of a few weeks ago, there may also be the opportunity for some F.O.N.E.P. skin art?
Now I’ll let you into a secret known by many in the facilities management field…if you let a site deteriorate and run down, people will start to think that it is acceptable…what is one more cigarette packet or chip wrapper on the pile? If you clean it and keep it clean – people respect that. They feel awkward chucking their rubbish on some virgin pathway. Perhaps some bar owners may feel bad about blocking exits that are clear as opposed to exits and paths that are already congested. Train operators have figured this out too…as soon as the graffiti starts in some cities…they clean it…if the “art” only lasts a day, the artists look elsewhere.
So where are we at? A growing community spirit, a cleaner, safer environment and a self sustaining culture…what could go wrong?
Before we launch, it’s always best to be aware of potential pitfalls:
Many comments on Stick’s site and others talk about Cowboy becoming a mainstream tourist stop…I think we’d need to make sure that N.E.P. maintains its points of difference and assess whether the clean up could contribute to it going the same way. The other thing is that this clean up concept can get out of hand and it all gets too sterile. Imagine if not only we cleaned the paths but levelled them too? Many of the long termers would be tripping over, looking like they are walking on the moon, stepping over the no longer present obstacles. And don’t forget the girls…they all smell great already, but let’s hope they don’t get it in their heads that excessive ink or make-up is a thing of the past. We have to insist on some sense of history.
F.O.N.E.P. It’s going to happen, you heard it first here.
In all seriousness, there is a bar owners' association in Cowboy and the members meet from time to time and discuss the soi. Perhaps that's what Nana could do with?