Build­ing a sense of com­mu­nity in Haicang

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - XIAMEN SPECIAL - By ZHENG YIB­ING in Xi­a­men, Fujian prov­ince zhengy­ib­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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”.

LIN GUANG­MING / FOR CHINA DAILY

Bi­cy­cle shar­ing sys­tem im­proves ur­ban trans­port, curbs auto emis­sions and helps build neigh­bor­hood bonds.

ZHENG YIB­ING / CHINA DAILY

The ad­min­is­tra­tive center shares in­for­ma­tion and helps man­age com­mu­ni­ties.

ZHENG YIB­ING / CHINA DAILY

Frangipani tree cared for by com­mu­nity vol­un­teers be­gins to blos­som.

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