A Local Portal with Locally Powerful Issues

It is the fact that the new  media gives more power for people at large, mainly  giving more opportunities in participating in the  community’s lives through the voice that people can deliver. It is not surprising that in Indonesia context after reformation, there are many different voices come up from the common people, which is sometimes sparking controversies. On the other side, however, the new media also gives bigger opportunities for people especially those who previously unarticulated due to the social political system. This paper, therefore, is interested at highlighting the roles that a local portal,,  has established in articulating rural people’s concern on their local sustainability. This is part 1 of the articles written as the result of study on the portal. is a portal based in Trenggalek that focuses its writings on the theme of local issues and explores the local wisdom in many aspects. The article is mostly written in essay genre, instead of news. This choice of genre is based on agreement of  the management of, a group of young people interested in giving contribution to the local development, by scrutinizing and giving their eyes on the daily practice of the local government and communities. This portal covers local issues of rural development in Kabupaten Trenggalek and the problems related to its people.

There are about 85 articles published in this portal since its first launching, March 2016 up to September 2016. There are many themes presented in the articles ranging from the topics of local history, local wisdom, folk art and culture, daily activities of the local people, up to the articles critically analyzing the policies of the local (regent) government of Trenggalek in running its programs. There are also a few short stories presented in the portal. All of them share the common point, about the local people and place of Trenggalek.

The management of this group, through this portal, aims at exploring and developing knowledge based on local wisdom and local experience. By developing the local wisdom, they expect that it will significantly contribute to the local development. A development that considers fairly, between the tangible and intangible potencies, between physical and human development. Their concern is that the intangible aspects, such as tradition, local wisdom, history, culture, are not yet taken into account sufficiently in the developmental process.

Trenggalek in the young people’s consciousness  (the founders of is a little town with abundant tangible potencies, such as beautiful and fertile natural landscape as well as cultural landscape.  Cultural and natural heritages are the most precious capital possessed by the region and it culturally needs to be explored and developed further. The cultural exploration of the society enables them to build better human resources and ensures the rural sustainability. This action is also the response to the government and stakeholders in Trenggalek that is deemed not sufficiently give a high priority on the intangible aspects such as human resources and cultural development.

With the identity of a creative group, establishing the portal ‘’ is the first step to go further in building rural sustainability through litearacy. This portal is a means to communicate their concern on rural daily social problems, through analyzing and exploring them into articles that are easy to understand. Building the knowledge based on local wisdom  is the  aims of the group, in addition to their goal to build the local region as a good town that takes local tradition and culture into account, ensuring rural sustainability for the people’s welfare.

Local Identities through the Use of Local Javanese Language

The portal “” has the tagline “jajah desa milang kori” that means exploring the villages from one hamlet to the others to count the (people houses’) doors, collecting local wisdom and documenting local traditional practices. The Javanese words used for this tagline emphasizes the locality of this portal. This portal is based in Trenggalek, East Java, of which most people speak Javanese language as their  mother tongue. Although the language used in writing articles in this portal is Indonesian language, the Javanese language is often inserted in the articles, mostly to give the sense of locality and traditionality of a particular expression.

The Javanese language used in the text is the dialect of Trenggalek, East Java. This seems natural for the portal to use Indonesian language and sometimes interrupted with some Javanese words with dialect of Trenggalek Javanese language, which is different from Malang dialect or Surabaya dialect. This is due to the fact that the editor and most of the readers of this portal uses Javanese language with dialect of Trenggalek Javanese  as his mother tongue. For instance the Javanese word “jeru” is used instead of  “jero” (Javanese language with central Java dialect) meaning “deep.”

In some articles, the Javanese terms are used not only as the inserted term, but as the topic, theme, and title, expressing the main topic or subject of a particular social practice and this  Javanese (Trenggalek dialect) term becomes popular or well known since then. For example, the word “ngadim” is used in an article by Trigus D. Susilo (2 May 2016). The word “ngadim” refers to the skill of fishing by using boat and net. There are  many ways and terms used in fishing, and ‘ngadim’ is popularly used among local fishermen in Prigi and Trenggalek in general.  This specific local term in the area of fishing enriches the local knowledge of social practice of traditional fishing.

Another local word “mbecek” is exposed in the article “Kenapa Musim Kawin selalu Berbarengan?” (3 October 2016). “Mbecek” is particularly used in Trenggalek and some other parts of East Java, referring to the activity of attending a wedding ceremony or another ceremony, by bringing some money in an envelope. This cultural activitiy of “mbecek” highlights the community’s habit that implies solidarity to the neighbours, friends, or relatives by giving contribution for their costly activities (ceremonies). They build solidarity, helping each other by giving some money and when they have their own ceremony, the other people and neighbour will do the similar thing. The circulation of money among the people in the communities through the practice of “mbecek” contributes to the community’s well-being by sharing their money to the others.

There are many other terms, especially local Javanese terms such as “rewang”, “Larung Sembonyo”, “Perahu Kunting”, “Nener” comprehensively discussed in many articles in this portal. All of these local terms addressing local social practices will have led to a kind of inventory of peoples’s tradition and daily practices. Much more important that just a matter of proud with local language, these inventories of local tradition will come to the understanding of the tradition and building local knowledge. Such understanding on the local daily activities will avoid people to the cultural banality that in many times happen to urban cosmopolitan people.

This is interesting as well, that the language used in the articles in the portal is not only Javanese language, but also English. Some articles in this portal inserts English words for particular expression. Most of the English word in the articles are not sparking any semantical problem. However, there is one article specifically address the use of the English as the subject matter, that is the article under the title “Trenggalek Southern Paradise atau Berteman Hati” (Pulung , 27/7) addressing the use of English language to build the brand and identity of Trenggalek. This article gives criticism of the English phrase, “Trenggalek Southern Paradise” as the English word is called “keminggris,” a negative connotation of using English word to express something. The Trenggalek identity expressed in English is considered not a genuine identity. So, language is political. You will not be successful delivering your concept when it is called “keminggris.”

Next: Part 2

Part 1: Presented in the “International Conference on Language, Literary, and Cultural Studies” (icon laterals). Universitas Brawijaya, 29 October 2016

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