aims to be a “Brain, Heart and Hand Trust” for Singapore as it deals with an increasingly unpredictable and complex external environment, and increasingly acute domestic constraints. Both the external and internal challenges pose risks but also opportunities, if we remain optimistic and are creative in our approaches.
As a Trust, our project focuses on the gifts it can offer to future generations. Unlike usual brain trusts, which tend to be mostly about talk, The Birthday Collective’s focus on the Heart and Hand emphasises that ideas are important but not enough; they need to be acted on, to create a sense of national drive and belonging even as individual aspirations are nurtured and lived out.
“The Birthday Collective” aims to lead and steward a range of “products” that serve as gifts to our nation; the inherent diversity of these gifts will be helpful in reaching out to a range of contributors. Collectively, these products are known as “The Birthday Suite”.
Our first and flagship product in 2016 was “The Birthday Book”; 51 contributors (to commemorate Singapore’s 51st birthday) were invited to send their thoughts (800 to 1000 words) on the prompt “What is Singapore’s Next Big Thing?”. Being an annual publication, each year’s Birthday Book will examine emerging challenges and opportunities for Singapore, and will be published to coincide with National Day. The number of writers each year will match Singapore’s age - 52 for 2017, 53 for 2018, and so on. The focus will be on canvassing views of Singaporeans younger than 45, who will soon inherit the mantle of national leadership across their respective sectors.
Other projects will include the following, all inspired by the desire to create, catalyse and sustain a movement that is critically engaged with, and contributes constructively to Singapore’s future.
Birthday Presence – Bi-monthly public dialogue sessions involving 3-5 selected writers from the most recent Birthday Book, covering similar themes.
Birthday Lessons – Bi-monthly schools dialogue sessions involving 3-5 selected writers from the most recent Birthday Book, covering similar themes.
Birthday Bash – A yearly launch party and discussion session for each new edition of the Birthday Book.