Building a sense of community in Haicang
The public bicycle service in Xiamen’s Haicang district might not be the first of its kind, but the way it happened helped build a sense of community.
Donated by all sectors of the district, the bicycles are managed by volunteer residents.
It is one of Haicang’s measures to improve community management in the district’s bid to become a modern urban area on the edge of Xiamen.
“Haicang aims to build a livable new town and well-organized communities through combined efforts,” said Zheng Yunfeng, Party chief of the district.
Growing from a small fishing village, Haicang has become a comfortable new district after 25 years of economic progress.
In 2013, it ranked 20th among China’s top 100 districts. Its four economic indexes are at the forefront of Fujian province, including per capita GDP and per capita industrial output.
But its population rose sharply with immigrants often indifferent to public affairs and social responsibilities because they had no sense of belonging, said local officials.
Yet the “Beautiful Xiamen” campaign initiated by the city government this year has helped the new residents change their attitude and involved them more in the community.
To implement the initiative and better serve the public interest, the Haicang government has divided the whole district into 39 communities and 299 sub-units.
Each unit elected a representative responsible for collecting public opinion and helping residents handle community affairs.
“In the past, people had to find the right administrative department when they had a problem. But now these volunteers will come to help them,” said Zhang Gu, a senior district official.
It is unlike the old practice of the Neighborhood Committee. At that time residents followed orders from their leaders.
By setting up a community governance council and inviting residents to participate, Haicang residents are more willing to get involved in public issues.
“In our community, residents are organized through a smart service center that oversees and shares information and resources,” said Zhu Xiaoyuan, a community official.
He noted that greenery in the community used to be looked after by property management companies. Without careful hands, the plants didn’t grow well.
Earlier this year, a retired teacher volunteered to water and fertilize a frangipani tree. It blossomed in the community garden and more people joined her. Now all plants in the community are all taken care of by local volunteers.
Some 212 volunteer teams with more than 30,000 participants now work in Haicang district in various environmental work.
In the past, government office buildings in Haicang were enclosed by walls. At the suggestion of the residents council, 85 percent of the walls have been taken down and people can now walk along the avenues past government compounds.
One of the pilot districts in the “Beautiful Xiamen” initiative, Haicang has the city’s first “Digital Home” experience center and the first Cross-Straits information use exhibition hall.
By 2015, more than 90 percent of Haicang families will have access to a 100-megabyte optical fiber network, and Wi-Fi will cover 100 percent of residents in the district.
District official Zhang said “the goal is to let people in Haicang not only enjoy a scenic environment but also a smart and convenient life”.
Bicycle sharing system improves urban transport, curbs auto emissions and helps build neighborhood bonds.
The administrative center shares information and helps manage communities.
Frangipani tree cared for by community volunteers begins to blossom.