In 2015, a group of people in the city of Guiyang, Guizhou Province, set up the network BeeCo. With a common interest in beekeeping and vegetable gardening, they aspired to work together busily, like bees, to explore a new style of urban living. Through the Guiyang Tongzai Urban Helping and Integrating Centre (GYTZ), they have shared their experiences at a school for children of migrant workers, which was very inspiring for the students. From 2016 onwards, PCD and GYTZ have supported the development of BeeCo, which already has developed into a 500-member citizen’s network, among whom about 20 passionately work at the community level and support four sub-groups with regular activities.
BeeCo hosts a monthly farmers’ market, showcasing vegetables grown by city people, encouraging exchange, sales, and learning about produce. The market has also become a platform for initiating various community activities. Inspired by BeeCo, several young mothers from Xiaohe of Guiyang have held three farmers’ markets and have independently run parent-children activities. Another mother has set up a hiking group which takes walks weekly in the countryside nearby; there are now more than 200 parent and child members.
BeeCo’s regular gatherings on education, art, farming, handicrafts and various topics are held right at the market, so it is convenient and natural to have conversations and develop stronger ties with each other. BeeCo also runs two to three public talks each month, limited to 12 participants for a deeper exchange. One talk lasted from 7.30pm until 1.00am – they didn’t want the evening to end!
Beekeepers are pleased that the city of Guiyang has kept up so many green areas as well as its beautiful limestone mountain parks, which are enjoyed by bees, locals and tourists alike. To create an atmosphere of co-learning without relying on outside experts, BeeCo invites its network members to lead the public talks. A retired woman has demonstrated how to re-use discarded items into useful things, a government official has spoken on seasonal wild vegetables, and a young member discussed waste separation and vermicomposting. The members who speak feel encouraged, supported and valued, and their participation fosters cohesion in the network.
BeeCo also provides training for its members. In 2017, they organised a two-part training: Secrets of our Dining Table (exploring how one’s choice of food relates to consumerism, trash disposal, and the urban-rural linkage), and popular Moderator Training Camp (participatory activity design). Many participants reported that they have reduced their use of disposable utensils at their own community market, and at home, they have started separating their garbage.
（from Annual Report 2017-2018）