Tai Ping Shan Post is a district paper in Sheung Wan that began publishing in May this year. It originated from a social concern group formed two years ago when the district council proposed building an escalator along Pound Lane in Sheung Wan. This aroused opposition from residents nearby, some of whom formed a concern group to protect their neighbourhood from further development.
Katty Law Ngar-ning and Yeung Tse-kit are core activists of the Pound Lane Concern Group. Along with engaging in the on-going debate over the construction of the escalator, they decided to publish a newsletter to record the historical value of the district and express their enthusiasm for Sheung Wan. “On the one hand, we’re opposed to the destruction, and on the other we need to work harder on the protection of this old district,” Law says.
Both Law and Yeung have a strong sense of belonging to Sheung Wan. Law has lived in the area for over 40 years and currently rents an art studio there. She says the small street-level local businesses in Sheung Wan help form a vibrant local community.
“It is easy for street shops and stalls to make good connections with one another. We help each other to keep an eye on the shop when one has to step out,” Law says. She recalls that on the day of a street forum on the Pound Lane issue, they had not prepared for the outdoor seating arrangements and were caught by a sudden downpour. Fortunately, shop owners nearby volunteered to lend them chairs and offered shelter. For Law, these scenes overturn the stereotype of emotionless and indifferent neighbours in Hong Kong.
Law’s colleague on the paper, Yeung moved to Sheung Wan seven years ago. He regards this district as his one and only home. “I was just like a passer-by in the places I lived before, there was no difference to sleeping in a hotel. I did not really belong to those places,” says Yeung.
The feared destruction of the neighbourhood brought together a group of Sheung Wan fans and prompted them to create the Tai Ping Shan Post. The paper is run by five editors, including Yeung and Law, and they are responsible for conducting interviews with residents in the Tai Ping Shan district and writing up stories. The production of the Tai Ping Shan Post is funded by local people who also help to provide information and content.
The theme of the first issue was “Exercise for Everyone”, which in Chinese has a double meaning – both physical exercise and social movements. The issue encouraged residents to fully utilise the landscape of the district to develop regular exercise habits. The papers are free and are handed out on the streets in the neighbourhood and left at cafes and restaurants. So far, the publication has received good feedback from readers and has a print run of 1,000 copies.