Am collaborating with a multi-national group of architects, urban planners, and concerned citizens to jumpstart an effort to renovate the Tangtou section of Baishizhou. Yesterday, at one of the Design Center’s Cool Tea (酷茶) events, I gave a short presentation on our four meetings to date and an introduction to sociocracy, the form of governance we are attempting to set up. The talk was well received, especially the discussion of how to run a meeting.
I have recently realized that there is not only desire to transform Chinese society, but also many such salons and talks springing up all over Shenzhen. Significantly, the terms of the discussion are the built environment. Last night, for example, the first talk by the Shenzhen Green Building Association charted the expansion of government sponsored discussions about environmental standards — their group has several hundred members and they are quite active. SGBA seems to be moving in the direction charted by Wang Yang in his recent address to the Guangdong Party and one of their core ideas is happiness index (幸福指标). As mentioned in an earlier post, Wang Yang has defined happiness in neo-liberal terms: a feeling of personal well-being brought on by doing what one likes to do. Upside, this definition leaves space for heterogeneity. Downside, it justifies all sorts of social neglect and individual appropriations of common resources. Nevertheless, the point remains: Shenzheners are talking about what it means to inhabit the city as members of a society AND the discussion is being coded in architectural and urban planning terms.