Ping Che Evolving: Understanding Its Community in Response to “City Development”
Yin Ha Chan and Ka Po Wong
Ping Che (坪輋), a rural area consists of six villages, was brought into the spotlight when North East New Territories New Development Areas Planning (新界東北發展計劃) was announced and resisted by the non-indigenous inhabitants. Though the government reviewed and replanned the Ping Che/Ta Kwu Ling New Development Area in the New Territories North Study (新界北研究) in 2015, the threat of land redemption remains. Since then, several locals and social activists have been organizing community engagement activities there, including community tours, art festivals and the establishment of Ping Che Mural Village. These not only revive rural cultures and empower villagers with strong identity, but also unite participants as a growing resistance to the Planning.
The stories of Ping Che are worth our attention to rethink “city development”. Starting from September 2018, 21 CUHK students of the Teaching Development and Language Enhancement Grant (TDLEG) project “CUHK in Communities” led by independent curator and urbanist Dr. Sampson Wong have engaged in the festive events and community activities there. It is hoped that, through the eight-month participatory learning and doings, students will have firsthand experience and understanding of the intertwined facets of the people’s living, especially under the threats posed by city development.
The Ping Che community is an exemplary case to rethink the legitimacy of the global trend of urbanization caused by developmentalism. In response to a top-down urban planning, how can we advocate and practice a community-initiated development with land justice and equal participation, hence constructing a civil society? Through on-site participatory learning at Ping Che, students will have first-hand observation and also chances to test the concepts learnt in class: the pursuit of good life, land justice, community-initiated development, and equal participation in a civil society, some of the core components of general education.