Pro­mot­ing Self-gov­er­nance in Com­mu­ni­ties

Beijing (English) - - CONTENTS - Trans­lated by Wang Wei Edited by Justin Davis

“Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity” is a sys­tem of self­gov­er­nance that is be­ing used in Bei­jing. Res­i­dents can note var­i­ous prob­lems and pro­pose ways to solve them. The project helps res­i­dents be more aware of prob­lems, and it stim­u­lates self- gov­er­nance.

Whether in a high-end com­mu­nity or an old com­mu­nity, a triv­ial mat­ter or a ma­jor is­sue re­gard­ing pub­lic se­cu­rity, ideas to solve prob­lems that Bei­jing's res­i­dents face have the chance to be im­ple­mented via the Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity pro­gramme. Chaoyang Dis­trict has used this sys­tem since 2015. “We will make de­ci­sions about our com­mu­nity” is no longer just a slo­gan.

Master of Com­mu­ni­ties De­vel­op­ment

The gov­ern­ment pol­icy and fi­nan­cial sup­port for the Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity. They will be im­ple­mented via co­op­er­a­tion be­tween sub­dis­trict of­fices and pro­fes­sional so­cial or­gan­i­sa­tions. Res­i­dent com­mit­tees col­lect the ideas. They are dis­tilled down to those that are use­ful and fea­si­ble. These are im­ple­mented to solve prob­lems in com­mu­ni­ties and meet the needs of res­i­dents.

Wangjing Sub-dis­trict be­gan to im­ple­ment this pro­gramme in its 22 com­mu­ni­ties as part of the 2016 Pro­mo­tion of Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity in Chaoyang Dis­trict. Res­i­dents can solve a va­ri­ety of is­sues re­gard­ing com­mu­nity man­age­ment.

The Hua­jiadi Xili Com­mu­nity solved the prob­lem of small, il­le­gal ad­ver­tise­ments be­ing posted in the com­mu­nity. Hua­jiadi Xili is an old com­mu­nity with­out dated ser­vice fa­cil­i­ties. It has lacked ba­sic prop­erty man­age­ment ser­vices. For ex­am­ple, the walls of many res­i­den­tial build­ings were cov­ered with a va­ri­ety of il­le­gal ad­ver­tise­ments. Get­ting them re­moved was dif­fi­cult. Ac­cord­ing to Li Xiaol­ing, sec­re­tary of the Hua­jiadi Xili Com­mu­nity Com­mis­sion of the Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC):

“In 2008, a large-scale cam­paign to re­move il­le­gal ad­ver­tise­ments was car­ried out and sup­ported by the gov­ern­ment. Later, the com­mu­nity never re­moved them.” in re­cent years, the Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity pro­gramme was im­ple­mented. One of the main pro­pos­als was to re­move the il­le­gal ad­ver­tise­ments. Af­ter they were ap­proved, the sub-dis­trict pro­vided fi­nan­cial sup­port to the com­mu­nity. Three hun­dred CPC mem­bers es­tab­lished a vol­un­teer squad to re­move il­le­gal ad­ver­tise­ments at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals. It be­came a daily ac­tiv­ity, and the squad achieved good re­sults. For ex­am­ple, build­ing No. 117 was once a disas­ter area, but it is now very clean.

If one vis­its the com­mu­nity, vague traces of ad­ver­tise­ments can be seen on the outer walls of the build­ings. The Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity pro­gramme has been a suc­cess in the Hua­jiadi Xili Com­mu­nity.

Lo­cal gov­ern­ments at grass­roots lev­els have al­ways fo­cused on com­mu­nity gov­er­nance. The re­sult was of­ten “strong man­age­ment with weak ser­vices,” how­ever. Top-down man­age­ment was of­ten im­ple­mented with the pas­sive par­tic­i­pa­tion of res­i­dents. In re­cent years, com­mu­nity gov­er­nance has re­ceived un­prece­dented at­ten­tion as a re­sult of changes in pol­icy and im­ple­men­ta­tion. The Sug­ges­tions on Strength­en­ing and Im­prov­ing Ur­ban and Ru­ral Com­mu­nity Gov­er­nance, which was is­sued by the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of the CPC and the State Coun­cil in June 2017, pro­vided a higher stan­dard for com­mu­nity gov­er­nance. The Peo­ple's Gov­ern­ment of Bei­jing Mu­nic­i­pal­ity and its de­part­ments have is­sued a num­ber of doc­u­ments to re­quire “strength­en­ing com­mu­nity self­man­age­ment, de­vel­op­ing so­cial or­gan­i­sa­tions to en­hance com­mu­nity ser­vices and pro­mot­ing com­mu­nity gov­er­nance.” ac­cord­ing to the re­port de­liv­ered by Gen­eral Sec­re­tary of the CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee Xi Jin­ping at the 19th Na­tional Congress in 2017: “We will strengthen the sys­tem for com­mu­nity gov­er­nance, shift the fo­cus of so­cial gov­er­nance to the com­mu­nity level, lever­age the role of so­cial or­gan­i­sa­tions and see that the gov­ern­ment's ef­forts work in har­mony with self-reg­u­la­tion in so­ci­ety and res­i­dents' self-gov­er­nance. A num­ber of poli­cies have brought com­mu­nity gov­er­nance to cen­tre stage af­ter pre­vi­ously be­ing in a more mar­ginal zone. The Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity gov­er­nance method has cre­ated more syn­ergy be­tween top­down ad­min­is­tra­tive re­quire­ments and bot­tom-up de­mands.

A Bold At­tempt

The Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity project be­gan in Chaoyang Dis­trict. Ini­tially there was some con­fu­sion. Take the Wangjing area for ex­am­ple. When the pro­gramme was im­ple­mented in 2016, both of­fi­cials from the sub- dis­trict and res­i­dents in the com­mu­ni­ties were not very fa­mil­iar with it. There were many ques­tions along the way, in­clud­ing what ex­actly the pro­gramme is and how it can be used.

To im­ple­ment Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity based on ac­tual sit­u­a­tions, Chaoyang Dis­trict is­sued an eight-step work­flow. It in­cludes things like prepara­tory work, col­lect­ing ideas, se­lect­ing pro­pos­als, is­su­ing se­lected projects and im­ple­ment­ing the projects. Wangjing Sub-dis­trict in­tro­duced four pro­fes­sional so­cial or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Huize­bozhong to work with res­i­dents, learn about their needs and help im­ple­ment the projects. Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity be­gan to roll out in Chaoyang Dis­trict.

The pro­gramme's pi­lot faced some dif­fi­cul­ties when it was launched in 2016. A staff mem­ber from a so­cial or­gan­i­sa­tion that was in­volved men­tioned: “The pre­vi­ous model fea­tured top- down com­mu­nity gov­er­nance. Res­i­dents thought that Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity would be mostly con­ducted by the gov­ern­ment also. This kind of think­ing needed to be changed. Res­i­dents needed to re­alise that is­sues can be solved in their com­mu­ni­ties based on their ideas and ef­forts. Chang­ing their thoughts pat­terns can be dif­fi­cult though.”

De­vel­op­ing back­bones for com­mu­ni­ties and col­lect­ing ideas from res­i­dents were also not easy. Ac­cord­ing to Deputy-di­rec­tor of the Wangjing Sub­Dis­trict Of­fice Wang Wei: “At first, most of the pro­pos­als fo­cused on peo­ple's in­di­vid­ual needs or those of some or­gan­i­sa­tions es­tab­lished by res­i­dents in com­mu­ni­ties. These ideas were only based on their own in­ter­ests. In 2016, pro­pos­als mostly in­cluded clean­ing up clut­ter in pas­sage­ways in­side their apart­ment build­ings or clean­ing up pub­lic ar­eas in front of their build­ings.” When asked whether these kinds of things would be im­ple­mented, Wang Wei shook her head and said: “They are too in­di­vid­u­alised. We en­cour­age res­i­dents to take care of things that can be solved on their own. Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity is meant to sup­port com­mon, uni­ver­sal de­mands. These are ur­gent is­sues in com­mu­ni­ties' that need to be solved.”

Or­gan­i­sa­tions, such as per­for­mance groups and cal­lig­ra­phy and paint­ing as­so­ci­a­tions, are ac­tive cells in com­mu­ni­ties. The sub- dis­trict of­fice needed to fos­ter

these com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions first. Tal­ents that emerged from these groups would play a lead­ing role in pro­mot­ing the de­vel­op­ment and im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity. A bold vi­sion was at work to cre­ate and im­prove grass­roots com­mu­ni­ties.

Choos­ing use­ful ideas from pro­pos­als that were sub­mit­ted in­volved screen­ing for those that en­hanced “pub­lic wel­fare, sus­tain­abil­ity and the de­vel­op­ment of so­cial or­gan­i­sa­tions.” Sixty- eight pro­pos­als were ap­proved in Wangjing af­ter they were re­viewed by ex­perts and voted on by the pub­lic. The sys­tem is weighted 80-20, with ex­perts hav­ing more in­flu­ence. Or­gan­i­sa­tions in com­mu­ni­ties were sup­ported by the gov­ern­ment's pol­icy, be­cause they had strong as­pi­ra­tions for their de­vel­op­ment. There were ini­tially 31 ac­cepted pro­pos­als that had cul­tural el­e­ments, com­pris­ing about 50 per­cent of the to­tal.

At this point, prepara­tory work for the Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity pi­lot was over. It was now time to im­ple­ment the ac­cepted poli­cies, which was set to oc­cur in the sec­ond half of 2016. Be­fore long, the needs of res­i­dents and or­gan­i­sa­tions in com­mu­ni­ties would come true.

Over­com­ing Ob­sta­cles

Though Wangjing Sub-dis­trict en­coun­tered many dif­fi­cul­ties, it gained a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence dur­ing the first year of the pro­gramme, en­abling the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the 2017 Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity pro­gramme to be smoother.

In 2017, Wangjing Sub-dis­trict set up a mo­bil­i­sa­tion cen­tre as a com­pre­hen­sive ser­vice plat­form for or­gan­i­sa­tions set up by res­i­dents in com­mu­ni­ties and a co­or­di­nat­ing group to mon­i­tor and guide the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity. The pre­vi­ous pro­fes­sional so­cial or­gan­i­sa­tion changed some­what. Three of them, in­clud­ing Huize­bozhong, con­tin­ued to par­tic­i­pate in guid­ing and im­ple­ment­ing projects. The Kan­g­leyinian So­cial Work Of­fice joined them to carry out op­ti­mi­sa­tion, im­ple­men­ta­tion and fi­nan­cial man­age­ment for the projects and to pre­pare for eval­u­a­tion.

2017 saw an up­beat change. Pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion was no longer lack­ing. This some­what hin­dered the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity in 2016. The plan re­ceived more at­ten­tion and more and more res­i­dents be­gan to par­tic­i­pate in it and of­fer more uni­ver­sally- ori­ented ideas. More prac­ti­cal and colour­ful projects be­gan to be pro­posed and im­ple­mented. Ac­cord­ing to Ma Xin, an of­fi­cial who works at the Wangjing Sub- dis­trict Of­fice: “In 2017, more than 200 ideas from 22 com­mu­ni­ties were col­lected, form­ing 104 pro­pos­als. These in­cluded things like en­vi­ron­men­tal gov­er­nance, se­cu­rity, cul­tural ser­vices and liveli­hood ser­vices. These pro­pos­als broke out of the mold of be­ing largely cul­tur­ally ori­ented in 2016. Af­ter ex­pert re­view and the vot­ing process, 71 pro­pos­als were on track to be im­ple­mented. This was a lit­tle higher than the 68 that were im­ple­mented in 2016.”

In 2017, or­gan­i­sa­tions es­tab­lished by res­i­dents in com­mu­ni­ties be­gan to fo­cus on com­mon is­sues and de­vel­oped with a trend to­ward mu­tual ben­e­fit and pub­lic wel­fare. The pro­fes­sional so­cial or­gan­i­sa­tions work­ing with them helped in­flu­ence them and point them to­wards broader goals. Yin­lingzhu­lao (“El­derly Help­ing El­derly”), an or­gan­i­sa­tion es­tab­lished by res­i­dents in Nan­huxiyuan Erqu, con­sists of el­derly CPC mem­bers in good health and other vol­un­teers. They care for el­derly peo­ple who live alone, visit them at home, as­sist them and of­fer spir­i­tual con­so­la­tion. This or­gan­i­sa­tion aims at en­cour­ag­ing more el­derly peo­ple to par­tic­i­pate in so­cial life. It plays a role in pro­mot­ing a sense of wor­thi­ness and ad­vo­cates a spirit of mu­tual help. Louyuan­guan­jia (“House­keeper of Com­mu­nity”) is a vol­un­teer ser­vice squad in Hua­jiadi Beili. It is an ac­tive force in the com­mu­nity mon­i­tor­ing a va­ri­ety of is­sues. It deals with things like prevent­ing and re­mov­ing il­le­gal ad­ver­tise­ments, clut­ter in pas­sage­ways in build­ings, oc­cu­pa­tion of green spa­ces and lit­ter­ing. Un­der the guid­ance of the com­mu­nity and pro­fes­sional so­cial or­gan­i­sa­tions, the vol­un­teer ser­vice squad im­ple­mented a project of “mi­cro-au­ton­omy in build­ings” to im­prove the en­vi­ron­ment in the area, help mem­bers be­come good care­tak­ers, max­imise the

ef­fi­ciency of gov­ern­ment in­vest­ment, pro­mote mu­tual as­sis­tance in the neigh­bour­hood, strengthen res­i­dents' par­tic­i­pa­tion in com­mu­nity self­gov­er­nance, im­prove a sense of gain and hap­pi­ness, and con­trib­ute to the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity.

The Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity pro­gramme has ex­panded from Wangjing to neigh­bour­ing com­mu­ni­ties. More or­gan­i­sa­tions are be­ing es­tab­lished in com­mu­ni­ties in Wangjing also as the pro­gramme gains more and more trac­tion.

In­no­vat­ing Self-gov­er­nance in Com­mu­ni­ties

There are a wide range of com­mu­ni­ties in Wangjing, in­clud­ing the high­end Wangjing Dongyuan Wuqu, the mid-range Shengx­ing and the older Hua­jiadi Xili com­mu­nity. Res­i­dents in these com­mu­ni­ties have dif­fer­ent needs and in­ter­act with the Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity pro­gramme in dif­fer­ent ways. De­tailed, spe­cific and di­ver­si­fied ideas are im­por­tant for solv­ing the is­sues of the res­i­dents in dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties.

2018 is now the third year of Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity in Wangjing. In­no­va­tive projects have been car­ried out. Wangjing has di­vided its com­mu­ni­ties into three dif­fer­ent types of zones. These are: in­ter­na­tion­alised com­mu­ni­ties, green and live­able com­mu­ni­ties, and com­mu­ni­ties that need to en­hance their en­vi­ron­ments. Var­i­ous re­quire­ments have been pro­posed for the dif­fer­ent zones. Ideas from in­ter­na­tion­alised com­mu­ni­ties need to high­light their in­ter­na­tional el­e­ments. Ideas from green and live­able com­mu­ni­ties need to main­tain and im­prove their green qual­ity and beau­tify the area. Ideas from com­mu­ni­ties that need to en­hance their en­vi­ron­men­tal safety need to fo­cus on how to im­prove their en­vi­ron­ments. The Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity pro­gramme has been up­graded to a higher level in 2018. It has gone from fo­cus­ing on the man­age­ment and de­vel­op­ment of com­mu­ni­ties to em­pha­sis­ing their over­all ar­range­ment and en­vi­ron­ment.

Pro­fes­sional so­cial work­ers mon­i­tor the Kan­g­leyinian and Huize­bozhong projects and oth­ers. They help achieve res­i­dents' self- gov­er­nance in dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories.

Ac­cord­ing to Wang Wei: “Un­like the guid­ing con­cept of pre­vi­ous years, we are now try­ing to re­duce the num­ber of du­pli­cate pro­pos­als, im­prove their qual­ity and en­sure that at least one good idea can be se­lected from each com­mu­nity.” Twenty-seven pro­pos­als have been col­lected based on the theme of de­vel­op­ing colour­ful and har­mo­nious com­mu­ni­ties, show­cas­ing strong pro­fes­sion­al­ism and a com­pre­hen­sive vi­sion. The pro­pos­als in­clude things like de­vel­op­ing in­ter­na­tional tal­ent com­mu­ni­ties in Wangjing, re­liev­ing re­dun­dant ur­ban func­tions, im­prov­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, de­vel­op­ing com­mu­ni­ties into na­tional san­i­ta­tion com­mu­ni­ties and en­hanc­ing grass­roots CPC or­gan­i­sa­tions. Shuangqi­ulu Com­mu­nity sub­mit­ted a pro­posal to hold paint­ing classes that are open to the pub­lic. This is in line with its po­si­tion­ing as an in­ter­na­tion­alised com­mu­nity. Nanhu Xili put for­ward pro­pos­als re­gard­ing the cre­ation of a san­i­ta­tion com­mu­nity and the de­vel­op­ment of colour­ful homes. These ideas match its sta­tus as a green and live­able com­mu­nity. Hua­jiadi Xili is a com­mu­nity that needs to im­prove its en­vi­ron­ment. It sub­mit­ted pro­pos­als re­gard­ing “Party build­ing and the de­vel­op­ment of a colour­ful com­mu­nity” to re­spond to the call to en­hance grass­roots CPC or­gan­i­sa­tions.

The Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity pro­gramme in­spires res­i­dents' self- gov­er­nance and re­aligns their ideas and thought pro­cesses so they “pay close at­ten­tion to their own com­mu­ni­ties.” im­ple­men­ta­tion in the Wangjing area has been a good start for the pro­gramme in Chaoyang Dis­trict. Some prob­lems have oc­curred in the last three years. Some­times, close col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween var­i­ous par­ties is lack­ing. Res­i­dents may then lose en­thu­si­asm for a plan that works out in this way and have con­cerns about its fu­ture. Over­all, the pro­gramme is go­ing well though. Com­mu­nity gov­er­nance shifts var­i­ous dy­nam­ics and makes them more lo­cal and em­pow­er­ing. The pro­gramme greatly en­hances the de­vel­op­ment of com­mu­ni­ties in Bei­jing.

Pho­tos by Chang Xu and cour­tesy of the Wangjing Sub- Dis­trict Of­fice of Chaoyang Dis­trict

The Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity pro­gramme im­proves com­mu­ni­ties in Wangjing.

A vol­un­teer cleans il­le­gally posted ad­ver­tise­ments from a wall.

The Cre­ative Ideas from the Com­mu­nity pro­gramme can give rise to a va­ri­ety of ac­tiv­i­ties that are im­ple­mented by res­i­dents’ or­gan­i­sa­tions in com­mu­ni­ties.

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