Where We Work

National and Urban

Our world is interconnected. Often, if not always, problems in rural areas originate in or are aggravated by activities in cities. In fact, urban and rural areas are interdependent. Cities depend on rural areas for food and resources while rural development cannot be sustained without supportive actions in urban areas. Over the past years, PCD has supported like-minded urban civic groups to reflect on urban lifestyles and the interconnectedness of rural-urban issues vis-à-vis the mainstream development model, and has fostered rural-urban relationships.

The work of PCD's National and Urban programmes is taken up by two work teams – the Sustainable Urban Living (SUL) Team and the Youth Development (YD) Team. The SUL Team mainly facilitates critical reflection on the mainstream development model and helps explore alternatives. The team also fosters the understanding of rural-urban issues and promotes sustainable living in cities. The YD Team encourages youngsters to reflect on their own values and styles of living and promotes relevant actions. Youngsters' personal inner transformation is emphasised, which is in turn linked to the transformation of communities and society at large. These concepts and actions are closely connected with the exploration of sustainable living.

The National and Urban programmes are based in Guangdong, covering the two big cities of Guangzhou and Beijing, with other projects launched in regional or national contexts.

The Sustainable Urban Living (SUL) Team

focuses its work in three areas: Ecological Agriculture, Community Economy and Sustainable Living Network

Ecological Agriculture

In Guangzhou and Beijing, we strive to enhance people’s awareness of food autonomy; facilitate reflection on the adverse impacts of the mainstream food system on ecology, culture, food security and food sovereignty, and help increase food autonomy of urban dwellers.

Various programme strategies are adopted, including education on issues about ‘food and agriculture’. We encourage urban dwellers to make their own food through urban farming and explore food processing methods at community level, so that a local food system is rebuilt and food-making craft revived. We will continue to support the promotion of community supported agriculture (CSA) through the nurturing of community facilitators. Platforms such as farmers’ markets will serve for building local networks to support CSA, so as to foster a mutual help relationship between producers and consumers. The programmes also support urban farming and the learning of sustainable farming skills (such as permaculture), through which the understanding of the diverse values of agriculture by small-scale producers and consumers will be enhanced.

In Guangzhou, we put effort into building supporting networks among those ecological agriculture practitioners who live on the periphery of the city and are committed to rural work. We help enhance their farming skills and capacity in business operation and management. We also initiate linkages among Guangzhou citizens, rural villages in suburban areas and ecological agriculture practitioners with a view to enhancing rural-urban interaction as well as city dwellers’ understanding of the land and nature.

Community Economy

In the major cities of Beijing and Guangzhou, we facilitate people to reflect on the vulnerability of the mainstream economy adopted in large-scale cities. Through community actions, we rebuild community relations and enhance urban dwellers’ understanding of self-autonomy in daily life.

We choose grassroots communities or communities in which urban workers cluster as priority regions for the exploration of community economy. The exchange of materials (e.g. food, learning materials for children) and services (e.g. child care services, home repair services, job matching) as well as mutual help activities are facilitated according to the needs of community members. We attempt to build linkages among different communities (such as workers’ communities and commercial housing estates) and enhance interaction and support among them. More importantly, we strive to gradually develop a kind of economic life in urban communities which takes care of nature and human beings, and join our partners to stride towards the goal of sustainable living.

Sustainable Living Network

We explore the meaning of sustainable living and its practices in cities, such as promoting the learning of sustainable living and the formation of mutual support networks with regard to cross-agenda and cross-area issues in mega cities. We facilitate pioneer learning such as the concepts of transition towns, Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) and permaculture, fostering the understanding of such issues by our work teams and partners as well as promoting relevant practices. Using CSA as a basis, we develop broader networks for participation, expand our partners’ imagination in daily life and changes, and catalyse exploration of sustainable living in mega cities. Through our ecological agriculture progammes, we hope to join our partners to share relevant experience with people interested in this issue by recording and communications work and hence build networks of people who campaign for sustainable living.

The Youth Development (YD) Team

focuses its work in three areas: Wisdom of Nature, Ecological Agriculture and Sustainable Living Network

Wisdom of Nature

The speedy pace of urbanisation and modernisation breeds an environment of consumerism and materialism which sets urban youths further apart from nature. Mainstream development encourages youngsters to regard nature as a set of resources to be managed and utilised rather than as something that exists in oneness with human beings who care about it. We hope to initiate reflection on the values of the ‘people-centred’ concept in our mainstream development and try to nurture youths' inner strength through nature so that they are motivated to search for spiritual fulfillment rather than material supply from the outside world.

The programmes provide learning opportunities to youngsters such as offering courses on self-cognition and its relation with society, with nature elements incorporated into the teaching. Other learning includes nature education, simple living and Ecovillage Design Education (EDE). We integrate resources of all these learning areas and develop diverse learning content which can be used in all kinds of platforms related to youths' development. We collaborate with youth organisations, particularly those showing concern about issues such as environmental problems, rural culture and rural-urban relationship. We assist these groups to analyse these issues from the perspective of ‘interdependence between human beings and nature’ and hence explore the ways of co-existence between human beings and all other things on earth.

Ecological Agriculture

Through ecological agriculture programmes, we support the linkage between youths and their communities as well as exploring the possibility for communities to lead an autonomous life. We facilitate youths to reflect on the dualistic rural-urban relationship and refresh their understanding of ‘nong’ (transliteration of a Chinese character which means agriculture, rural areas or farmers), which can lead to rural-urban interaction and make it possible for youngsters to return to 'nong'.

The programmes launched in Bejing and Guangxi Province are mainly youth internships with a focus on ‘nong’, such as the operation of CSA. The programmes nurture youths’ capacity to reflect on ‘nong’and initiate relevant actions. Through the programmes, we encourage youngsters to go to rural villages to engage in farming or rural reconstruction work. We also continue to develop those networks related to ‘nong’ from Taiwan and Thailand so as to enhance youths’ understanding of it through interaction with these overseas networks. Mutual collaboration networks for actions will be constructed around the theme of ‘nong’.

Sustainable Living Network

We motivate youngsters to reflect on the mainstream development model stemming from modernisation and globalisation, to examine various issues and to recognise the macro context behind these issues in a bid to enrich the understanding and practices of sustainable living. We foster the development of cross-region youth networks on diverse issues, such as environmental protection, education, returning to home villages, village and agricultural issues and youth development. We build a wider overseas network, linking members from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and regions along the Mekong River. Such a network facilitates the understanding of relations between youths and the outside world as well as reflections on globalisation and modernisation.

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