Existing for Other People’s Dreams—Changing the Future by Keeping Company
Xinhua Community Development Society bases its development on indigenous Tavocan cultural and creative products, establishing its own sales channels and market. It also revives the old streets and old buildings with cultural memories, boosting community building and industry development in the surrounding area. It makes full use of existing resources and relevant management skills, assisting peripheral townships and communities to develop communitysized social enterprises. By promoting local employment and community building, the Society combines various cultural and environmental facets, from tourism to creativity. It fosters future community leaders and facilitates the development of local industry.
Don’t Worry; We Are Here
Entering the front gate of the Xinhua Community Development Society, we saw the staff attentively listening to the questions of community representatives who came for help. This is a home, a place where everyone supports each other and learns together. To answer people’s questions, the staff members of the Society have to keep learning to find solutions.
The Society has paid attention to several facets from local culture and community development to education. It plans to build a platform for communication and connection, a place where everyone shares and learns from each other. Hsu Ming-yang, the director-general of the Society, emphasizes that since resources are limited, people should make better use of them.
The Society also takes responsibility for developing local industry on the old streets. It promotes community development by problem diagnosis and resource investigation in the community. It also plans to transform Xinhua into a better space.
Facing problems and solving them have become the rhythms of everyday activities. The Society connects the shops on the old street by making Tavocan lanterns and unites the community by repainting the old police station. When manufacturers have trouble selling their？products, the Society gets involved and tries to find a way for them. It also endeavors to arouse people’s passion for the community.
“We all need partners. We all need company.” Hsu believes that if the Society sees its role as a company, it will see more broadly and do more. The Society provides local residents with free graphic design services. This service begins with building a brand image. Then, it focuses on product development and advertising. Because of long-term and comprehensive planning, the whole service does not cause wastage of resources.
Mutual trust and support are the core concept of people’s relationships here, so they do not sign any contracts before commencing work. The Society absorbs the costs first and then faces any challenges with the community. When they succeed, they not only receive a deserved reward but also build a bridge for mutual support.
Bringing New Life to Old Stories and Old Shops
The Society focuses on local topics to design its products and services. For instance, the Siraya people who lived in the mountains had a close relationship with the people living in the old street area. But the two groups grew estranged from each other during the Japanese colonial period. Through the journey on the old streets, visitors have access to past history and read of the connections between the Siraya and the old streets. In addition, the Society shows its care for local culture, continuing to pass down local stories with creative products such as postcards.
To build a platform for local development, the Society set up a Green Art Market in the Wude temple square. To run the market on a regular basis and manage operational quality, the Society went to various markets in Taiwan to learn management skills.
When local residents learned about this plan, some doubted whether there would be visitors in such hot weather. Hsu was certain that Xinhua needed a market, and this small town also had the power to sustain it. However, he also kept this doubt in mind.
“If it’s hot, we can set up umbrellas. Although we didn’t have the funds, we wanted to make this happen. We just had to go with the flow and deal with the difficulties.” Hsu believes that stories are created. Instead of seeing people’s doubts as obstructions, he stirred up people’s lives and the shops on the old streets with old umbrella collection activities, creating an opportunity for them to care, join in and support this plan. This activity successfully encouraged people’s participation and environmental awareness. In addition, the Society invited people from other communities to help build scaffolds. When the umbrella is worn out, they tear out the umbrella cloth and sew it with the canvas on the scaffolds. Because they were capable of making use of social capital, seeing difficulties as opportunities, and solving problems, stronger forces were brought together and united.
The Society wanted to build a space where people may share stories and realize their dreams. It therefore asked the stalls to commit to a long-term partnership so that they may move forward together and build a long and friendly relationship with consumers. Stalls passing examination do not pay rent when they first set up in the market. In addition, there are also stalls reserved for benevolent purposes. Charitable organizations have a platform for exposure if they need to sell their goods or hold charity sales. The market is mobile, meaning that the whole？market can be moved elsewhere to support a benevolent activity. In the future, the Society plans to do collective marketing activities to reduce costs, such as making a story billboard.
Incubation and Inheritance
To rebuild the peaceful image of a big family playing and talking in the courtyard of the traditional three-sectioned compound, the Society renovated an old house and turned it into the Tavocan Cultural Hall, a base that passes down local culture. The process of construction encountered various challenges. Fortunately, they were overcome one by one due to everyone’s selfless support. First, the neighborhood chief helped relocate the homeless who were sleeping in the old house. Then the Society called for volunteers to clean up the site, and there were three trucks of garbage carted away. It wasn’t until heavy rainfall a couple of days later that they knew water might leak through the roof. Many machines were water damaged. The Society is especially grateful for the support of the Workforce Development Agency and the Yunlin-Chiayi-Tainan Regional Branch. Now the Hall organizes gatherings, classes, and educational conferences about the market. In addition, it is raising crickets.
Community development in remote areas often lacks the support of manpower, methods, and funds. However, the community receives assistance from the Society. The Society obtains subsidies from the public and private sectors and develops future leaders in community services. With continuous training for three years the community develops a social enterprise. Furthermore, the Society encourages a community to make use of its internal resources and strive to be self-sustaining.
One important task of the Society is to assist other communities in designing, marketing and planning community orientation. The Society is capable of meeting their needs and helping smooth the way for future development. For example, Longxing Community asked a school to design packaging, but there was a huge gap between the end products and the community’s expectations. The Society, however, is capable of offering long-term planning and assistance.
Serving as the chairman of Chengshan Community Development Association, Luo Chaoteng expressed his gratitude for the dedication of Director-general Hsu and his team with their assistance in local development. Luo believes that the joyful teamwork they share is a result of everyone’s dedication in building a prosperous community. In terms of workforce outflow, the Society also provides help.
“Keeping company helps you see the subtle things.” Transfer of power in community organizations is common, which may cause gaps in community building. However, Hsu believes that the duty of the Society is assistance. Since the community residents are the real masters of their homes, they should know best what they want and need. Such an understanding amplifies the meaning of “keeping company.”
Departing from Xinhua, Welcoming Young People to Come In
The Society has now moved beyond Xinhua, beginning to assist in nine other surrounding？areas. It dispatches empowered young people to serve as community CEOs, teaching residents？the concept of cost control. Since it is a non-profit organization with regular board elections, it is？still exploring a direction for the development of a social enterprise. The Society plans to use its？creative products and services to support its operations and community services.
“Every time I serve in a community or an indigenous area, I feel like I’m home,” Hsu says. Recalling his past, Hsu says the shop owners on the old street were cold and indifferent in the beginning. With various activities, the establishment of the market and repeated communication, they began to recognize and approve of the Society. Changes are occurring. Xu hopes the old street will continue to prosper. He also plans to build an environment for people to learn and work in.
Persistent and creative young partners are a huge boon for the Society. And the profitable platform built with other communities has also become a foundation of mutual trust and collaboration. With its experience, Xinhua Community Development Society acquires resources from the public and private sectors, connecting locals to build a powerful community support network. It plans to connect more communities and resources, assisting local business to construct a business model with local features.
To Hsu, the Society exists for everyone's dreams.
The Society generated community involvement with the Green Art Market.
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Please attribute this article to “Workforce Development Agency, Ministry Of Labor”.