MyCommunity Festival to highlight local heritage stories in December

SINGAPORE – For seven years, the aroma of coffee has permeated most of Mr Marcus Foo’s waking hours.

Since 2013, the 39-year-old co-founder and chief executive officer of PPP Coffee has been supplying locally roasted coffee beans to home-grown businesses, conducting guided tours and overseeing barista training workshops.

“Our mission has always been connecting people and the community through coffee,” Mr Foo told The Straits Times on Wednesday (Nov 18).

PPP Coffee owns and operates Chye Seng Huat Hardware eatery, which will host workshops on coffee brewing as part of the MyCommunity Festival (MCF).

The MCF will take place in various locations this year, from Dec 4 to Dec 20. In view of Covid-19, all events will be conducted with a maximum of five participants plus the host, to comply with safe distancing measures. Some will also be available online.

MyCommunity, a non-profit organisation established in 2010, has been organising heritage tours in historic neighbourhoods such as Queenstown and Tiong Bahru since its inception. With this year’s festival, it is expanding its list of partners to broadcast stories from more neighbourhoods.

Mr Kwek Li Yong, who co-founded MyCommunity when he was 20, said: “Every community has a story to tell. We want to narrate stories of the common people and celebrate the little things in our neighbourhood.”

MCF events are separated into six categories: Makan My Curry; After Hours @ My Community; Meet My Craftsman; Of Rites and Rituals; One Bean, Many Coffees; and Open My Factory. These were finalised after a year-long planning process by Mr Kwek and his colleagues.

Ms Nicky Kamhaengna, 38, welcomed the chance to participate in the Festival. She will be cooking Thai curries under the Makan My Curry segment, in her own kitchen. The homemaker is a member of the Thai Association, one of the many partners working together with MyCommunity. She said she wished to introduce various Thai dishes, particularly the ubiquitous sweet green curry.

Another one of MyCommunity’s partners is Mrs Indra Iswaran, 71. She will cook Sri Lankan Jafna curries for the event participants at her home. She told ST that South Indians curries have more coconut compared to those of the Jaffna Tamils.

Mrs Indra Iswaran will cook Sri Lankan Jafna curries for the event participants at her home. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

Both Ms Kamhaengna and Mrs Iswaran said they were delighted when MyCommunity reached out to partner with them. Ms Kamhaenga said she hoped people would leave her tasting event feeling “warm and welcomed as a good friend”. Mrs Iswaran noted that the Festival could “preserve the legacies that are slowly being forgotten”.

Besides food tasting, participants can also meet local craftsmen practising traditional art and visit various places of worship.

The MCF will also offer a chance to visit places that are usually inaccessible. For instance, After Hours @ Changi features kelongs that are usually restricted to the public. Meanwhile, visitors to the SingPost Distribution Centre (under Open My Factory) will be able to get a glimpse behind the scenes of Singapore’s mail room. Safe distancing measures will apply.

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The Festival was originally planned to start in April but was moved to December, with distancing measures in place, due to the pandemic.

Registration for MCF programmes will open at 8pm on Friday (No 20), at this website.

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