Xixi, it all started at number 68
This is a story that we have all heard many times…
In the autumn of 2014, a group of multidisciplinary participants set off from number 68 on Zhongshan Seven Road and walking into the quiet Golden Flower Street. Amongst them there were designers, architects and planners, community workers, photographers, university students, and people who worked and lived in the area; we all walked together into the old neighbourhood, slowly getting to feel and know the area.
The name of this activity, ‘Xixi Xiangguan’ (closely related) was a hope that everyone who was part of this place could break through the invisible wall, and observe the neighbourhood that is so closely related to us. We were like connectors, using fun and interesting methods to connect people with each other. We were also like sowers, quietly casting seeds across the land.
‘Xixi Xiangguan number 68’ put a house number on Xixi Xiangguan. We set off from number 68, and rooted ourselves there. We hoped that the seed that was sowed could continue to grow into a tree full of life.
The small yet beautiful life experiment
Community creation is all about the atmosphere of creating. There are two special points here, one is locality and what makes the neighbourhood what it is. The second is the community of people; community is what allows these people to live together, it makes them share some goals in common. And the creation of atmosphere needs to be generated on the common ground of local government, local inhabitants and local businesses and organisations.
We also often emphasise that community creating cannot be separated from the creation and building of community. Cassi once said you can add an endless number of brackets between community and creation. That is why while working, we have been constantly breaking down this broad idea, breaking it down into small and beautiful entry points to life in the community, filling in these brackets as we break each idea down.
- Using arts to explore the community, finding the artistic stories that are always around us.
- Recuperate old objects, guiding everyone to rethink their relationship with these objects, and to collectively rediscover the new value of old objects.
- Clocking-in cards, encouraging everyone to observe and discover the bits of life that have been previously neglected.
- Opening up a toolkit for discovering the city, letting more organisations and more people use fun and accessible ways to get involved with our community life.
- Providing an online community forum where you can enter discussions on various topics relating to the community, breaking through the limits of offline and wechat messages, and get to know other friends in the neighbourhood.
Throughout this process, everyone slowly realised that community creating is not a distant reality, just one of your actions, decision, motivations, can all make an impact on the community and neighbourhood that is closely related to our shared daily lives.
Xixi Xiangguan number 68 is one of your close neighbours. For those of us that live here, we are trying our hardest to use fun and interesting ways to demolish the types of unfamiliarity that rapid and large scale urbanisation creates, we are trying to reduce depression and loneliness, by using a peaceful and equal attitude we are improving the places that are left behind, creating more love and more kindness and beauty in the environment of our daily lives.
Now we have already welcomed many fellow comrades into this world, and together we are entering the community and becoming friends.
Xixi Xiangguan number 68 is where we first set off, and it is also our new beginning. We are hoping to enter the most ordinary of everyday life, and blossom right there.