Volunteers and residents work together to strengthen public engagement and bonding in their neighbourhoods
Reporters: Raven Hui, Jasmine Ling, Scarlet Shiu, Lily Yu
Editors: Angela Siu, Eric Park
On a Saturday afternoon, a group of To Kwa Wan residents gather at the House of To Kwa Wan Stories, where children have tutorial classes and adults make soup and dumplings together.
Housing estates residents nowadays are quite distant from their neighbours. It was a different story back in the 1950s and 1960s when neighbours had much stronger and closer relationships in their communities.
“Community development” is a concept of strengthening public engagement and bonding in the neighbourhood. Engagement amongst neighbours is promoted through a series of campaigns and events initiated in different districts by enthusiasts and concern groups.
The House of To Kwa Wan Stories is run by a group of volunteers who organise different activities regularly for local residents including flea markets, tutorial classes for children and maintenance services for residents in the district.
Hung Fook Street in To Kwa Wan will soon undergo redevelopment. The Urban Renewal Authority plans to recover more than 300 residential units by 2026. The House of To Kwa Wan Stories is rooted in the community with an aim to connect the residents together in face of the redevelopment plan.
Apart from residents’ joint efforts, there are also professionals who try to contribute to the community with their knowledge, hoping to establish a network for residents and encourage community members to share and interact.
Peter W.Ferretto, associate professor and director of the Masters of Architecture Programme at the School of Architecture of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, wants to strengthen the connection of residents by making use of public space in Hong Kong with his design.
He initiated the “Book Tree” project in August to encourage community members to share and exchange books. The project has received positive feedback from the residents with a circulation of over 10,000 books. He hopes it can ultimately become a mobile facility that moves around the city.
The establishment of community bonding needs continuous efforts. Max Leung King-sang, a member of the House of To Kwa Wan Stories, believes the group is sowing the seeds of community development in the younger generation. He hopes young people will organise activities to strengthen bonding in their own communities no matter where they will settle in the future.