Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Monday, 25 August 2008
Tuesday, 26 August 2008 01:39

低空的滋味

受到國際油價與全球景氣的影響,台灣的物價不斷上漲。大學錄取率高達97%似乎無法緩和競爭文化,同時整體社會走向少子化、高齡化,面對這樣的社會現象,我們的心靈是不是越來越嚐到低空的滋味?

撰文│沈秀臻

低空是一種不被重視與不被愛的滋味。看著別人高高在上,自己只能看著地上的青草。為了一個知道或者不知道的原因,有時一個人就被一個家庭、一個團體或者一個社會所否定。
心靈迷宮如森林,低空的感覺就像是走在森林中的半盲人。感覺前方忽近忽遠,感覺人生旅程無法重來。醒來時,不知自己置身何處,又覺得自己身居處處。想哭,徬徨不定,做不出決定,彷彿陽光也照著惡夢。在現實與理想之間,在溝通與無法溝通之間,在可解與不可解之間,我們感到內心的困頓、遲疑,體驗到生命的停留與無法停留。
比起十年前,台灣社會現今正體驗到困頓。大環境迅速波動,日子似乎一天比一天難過。我們好似魚缸裡面的金魚:因為魚缸的水質變差,覺得越來越難以呼吸,很想浮到水面上大口呼吸新鮮的空氣。
仔細想想,至少十幾年前,選擇出國旅行是一種台灣現象:像是充電一樣,很多人藉此增廣見聞或讓心靈休憩,然後再回到原有的環境面對快速的工作節奏與忙亂的腳步。
而現在,在治安變差以前,在人與人之間的問候變得更哀聲嘆氣以前,在更大的風暴來臨前,我們學習謙卑地前行。
即使前方的訊號忽暗忽明,路途遙遠未知,微光是半盲人在森林中引路的燈。有位朋友對我說,蜘蛛結網的當下讓她看到生命的堅韌。微光常常化身為微小的事物吧,也許是一隻小昆蟲,也許是小孩的笑容,也許是一幅小畫,也許是一篇動人的文章。
低空與高空訴說著人生的滋味。誠心盼望人籟能成為高空與低空之間的橋樑,請高峰人與低潮人到這裡尋找智庫的精神依靠與心靈修復的空間。

附加的多媒體:
{rokbox}media/articles/Rl52xiuzhen.jpg{/rokbox}
Tuesday, 26 August 2008 01:22

台北縣副縣長李鴻源談永續發展

全球暖化是人類的危機,但也是全世界最大的商機。
從產業政策、教育、市場、能源,乃至於治理模式皆須全盤改造。
我們相信台北縣做得到,台灣也一定做得到!

撰文│李禮君


人籟:您曾提及,全球暖化的危機因應需要一套整體性的宏觀政策,請您以台北縣為例來說明?

李:事實上,要治理台北縣,跟治理台灣、治理中國,基本上是同樣的概念。為了減緩全球暖化趨勢,首要之務是減少溫室氣體的排放。譬如說要求工廠執行清潔生產、鼓勵使用大眾運輸等等,所以交通、產業等各部門政策、就連學校裡所教的內容都要全盤改變。就像瑞典,他們政府宣布二十年之後,全國不再使用一滴汽油。為了實現這句話,他們早就開始研發各種替代能源。
再看看台灣,台灣的作法事實上還是落伍的、膚淺的。例如大家最近為了油價吵得不可開交,這很荒唐,因為油價本來就應該反映市場,政府補貼油價是完全錯誤的。

人籟:您認為台灣應該怎麼做?

李:台灣的人均二氧化碳排放量是世界平均值的三倍。要減量,我們首先必須進行基本資料的研究,例如找出最大的二氧化碳來源,然後才能據以訂定策略。並且,面對全球暖化的危機,人類目前的知識無法因應我們所面臨的問題。以前我們若遇到問題,或許設計出一項新產品,就可以解決。現在則是從精神、生活習慣、教育到法律,全都要改變。
這是危機,也是轉機。全球暖化是全世界最大的商機,因為現在所有的產品,在二十年之後都不能用了。因此,我們要有一個完全不一樣的市場、全新的技術、不同的生活方式、全新的治理模式。
歐盟從二○○五年開始通過了好幾項規範,凡是工廠的製程消耗太多資源、使用太多有害物質、對環境不友善,歐盟國家不會買它們的產品。這件事就應該反映到我們的產業政策上。但目前在台灣,台北縣是唯一在做這件事的地方政府。看到環保署的減碳政策,我也感到很遺憾,那種皮毛的東西是行不通的。要減碳,不只是把冷氣調高兩度、不穿西裝、大家都騎腳踏車…這些雖然重要,但不是真正的重點。

人籟:宣導民眾改變生活習慣難道不重要嗎?

李:重要,但不是最重要的。先以「節約用水」來說明:我們已經宣導了快三十年,但今天有多少人真正在節約用水?我們台灣每人每天平均用掉三百五十公升的水,荷蘭人一天只用一百五十公升。荷蘭人的個子還比我們高大,我們用的水是人家的兩倍多!為什麼他們可以做到?
很簡單,他們一度水的價格大約要四十元,他們所有的相關設備及產品都是節約用水的設計,工廠用水也都回收再利用。他們甚至認為水價還是太便宜,還要求再提高水價。我們台灣人卻認為水價一提高,大家就活不下去了!事實上,若採用差別費率的水價計算,每個家庭每月大約多花兩百元而已。所以水價提高,是那些大企業會倒楣,因為他們耗了太多的水。但是當水價反映在成本裡,他們就必須做回收。
所以,台灣忽略了法律。所有人都在道德勸說,但這是沒有用的。假如我是中央政府,我就規定耗水的工廠、製造太多二氧化碳的工廠都不允許存在。只要法令一訂,工廠自然就會將水回收再利用,並設計節約用水的製程,這才是對的。今天台灣低價水費的政策,等於是用台灣的環境成本去補貼商人賺錢,這是錯的!

人籟:但根據許多媒體報導,水價若漲,會導致民眾反彈?

李:這就是讓我覺得最無力的部分。最重要的議題,媒體從來不在乎。這兩天媒體都在報鄺麗貞的新聞,每天報這種新聞做什麼?前陣子台灣鬧水患,大家吵治水吵了一個禮拜之後,今天沒人再對治水有興趣。我跟媒體談治水,媒體也不會追著問我到底在講什麼。
所以整個台灣,從政治人物、媒體到一般民眾都很膚淺,大家都不願意深入。沒人真的對治水有興趣,他們只對死了多少人、下了多少雨有興趣,但這些都是非常表面的東西!
今天立法院為財團把關,所以好的法案沒有辦法出現。我們公務員就算有再好的構想也沒用,因為公務員是依法行政。那立法委員為什麼會被財團綁架?財團為什麼可以為所欲為?因為媒體不負責任,因為民眾的思考膚淺,因為知識份子沒有站出來。所以,最根本的還是要回到「人」。
台灣看起來是個非常民主的國家,但是我們對民主的闡釋是錯誤的。我們所有的政治人物、所有媒體都在做最壞的示範,是誰容許他們如此?是民眾!是我們!而民眾為什麼會容許他們?因為民眾根本不知道什麼是對、什麼是錯,也因為知識份子不講話、不扮演好自己的角色。這就是台灣現在最無力的地方。

人籟:如何在台北縣落實永續發展的理念?

李:我們要將台北縣變成一個永續發展的示範都市。當然這要有經費,但是我們需要的絕對不是如外界所說的動輒幾百、幾千億,我們要的其實不多。比如說台北縣的計程車司機假如願意換成瓦斯車,縣政府每輛車補貼兩萬五千元,在板橋車站給他們享有優先排班的空間。大家一換瓦斯車,空氣就會變好,而且計程車司機每月可省下一萬五千元的油錢。這就是我們的政策。
但是,縣府的財政到底不是中央政府,我可以要求業者配合,但是中央政府要給我「胡蘿蔔和棒子」。否則光有好的計劃是沒有用的。例如,台北縣政府可以要求建商,往後的建築物都必須是綠建築,但我們手上沒有可獎勵的誘因,中央沒有法令,我憑什麼要求建商?反正他們隨便蓋,一坪也可以賣四十萬!
所以,重點是把遊戲規則定出來,把法規定出來,然後給商人壓力,給他胡蘿蔔也給他棒子,這種計劃才會有效。

人籟:台北縣要成為永續發展的示範都市,預算從哪裡來?

李:舉台電為例。它的兩座火力發電廠,佔台北縣二氧化碳總排放量的四分之一,林口火力發電廠過去一年就排放了一千三百二十六萬公噸的二氧化碳。只要解決了台電的排碳問題,台北縣的減碳就完成一大半。以今天世界碳排放交易的行情來算,每公噸二氧化碳排放量在市場上是三十歐元,台電每年排放量大約值台幣一百三十多億。我們不是向中央要錢,是台電欠台北縣所有縣民的,本來就應該要給。污染者付費是一個全世界都在執行的遊戲規則,應該從國營事業的台電做起。
我們把這筆基金暫且稱為「電碳基金」,有了這筆錢之後,中央政府、台北縣和產業界一起來執行。我們有辦法讓台北縣從產業、教育、交通、和整個社區重新改造,並且還會創造更大的收益。政府只要投資一百七十億(嚴格來說不是投資,是台電欠我們的),我們將創造十五萬個工作機會的稅收,再加上一兆的產值,遠遠超過先前所投資的。這就是永續發展的概念!
所以,以前大家認為永續發展會妨害商業發展。錯!永續發展是全世界最大的商機!

人籟:在永續發展議題上,台灣在國際社會應扮演什麼角色?

李:沒有一個國家可以自外於國際社會,台灣亦然。台灣必須同時思考亞洲的成長,以及台灣和中國大陸的關係。
中國是全世界最大的市場,也是全世界污染最嚴重、最需要科技投入的國家,同時也是全世界資金投入的地方。但是今天中國要是繼續這樣發展下去,等到十年後再醒過來的時候,已經來不及了,付出的環境成本太大了。
現在,外國人要進中國大陸做生意,常常會很猶豫。因為一進到大陸,他們擔心自己的智慧財產權、新技術被複製,根本沒有保障。所以台灣可以扮演一個橋樑的角色,而且台商在中國也有相當大的工廠。在這樣的危機下,我們可以從台商做起,把歐洲的經驗、日本的技術,跟我們台灣做創投的概念帶進中國大陸。我們可以運用環境議題,當作兩岸之間的一個橋樑。台灣雖然很小,但是我們恰恰可以扮演這樣的角色。我們的政府沒有看到這一點,這是十幾年來台灣政府最大的失策。
幸運的是,我們跟中國大陸同文同種。當然台灣有自己的認同,但是,我們有一兩百萬、甚至兩三百萬的台灣人住在中國大陸。從台商企業開始,如果我們可以做到符合清潔生產,符合國際標準,就可以再往前擴展。有一陣子國民黨政府常說要讓台灣成為亞太營運中心,事實上,台灣應該變成亞太的能源創新中心。如此一來,我們也賺到錢,中國的環境也會變好,兩岸也有一定的互信,所有問題都解決了。
事實上,當初中國經濟起飛的時候,台商扮演了很重要的角色。但是過去台灣帶進中國的都是勞力密集、高污染的產業。所以大陸的污染,我們也要負一部分責任。而且我相信,大陸政府也會感激我們這麼做。
況且,中國的環境政策其實比台灣進步。雖然執行上不見得落實,但是他們的方向比台灣明確,比台灣先進。

人籟:您是治水專家,請談談台北縣的治水策略?

李:不妨先看看我們縣府大樓附近,高樓大廈、百貨公司四處林立,許多人以此為傲。但是大家不要忘記,二、三十年前這裡都是稻田和綠地。雨水一落,都滲到地底,所以板橋市沒有淹水的問題。但是這麼多高樓蓋起來以後,雨水就下到雨水下水道。但是雨水下水道沒辦法容納這麼多水,於是就淹水。政府只好設置更多抽水站和雨水下水道。
但是如果換個方式,只要法令一改,規定建商不可以使用這麼多不透水舖面,公共設施必須是公園綠地,只要做得稍微凹一點,下雨時可以儲存雨水。如此,雨水下水道根本不需要變大,淹水問題自然解決。但是可想而知,這種法令是不會通過的,因為立法院不會讓它通過,因為建商會向立法委員施壓。
至於誰應該負擔這個成本?是建商!建商不應該賺這麼多錢。建商不去做這些事,把錢省下來放在自己的荷包裡,最後淹水了,卻要政府來花錢補救,這是沒道理的。況且一直蓋抽水站也沒有用,因為氣候變遷使得雨越下越大,抽水站永遠趕不上雨量變化的速度。

人籟:除了法令,我們還可以朝哪些方向努力?

李:進行公民對話,也就是民眾參與政策形成的機制。以荷蘭治水來講,他們把全國的銀行、省政府、水利會、產業界、立法機構、研究機構和公民,大家坐下來老老實實地對話幾千個小時。對話就是為了喚醒公民意識,達到共識。
我分享一個案例,我們台北縣有一條「中港大排」,以前是條臭水溝。為了整治中港大排,我把十幾個局處全部找來,請他們每個月開一次會,並賦予他們任務:我請水利局讓它不淹水、請環保局把水變乾淨、請城鄉局進來重新規畫,就這麼簡單。那件工程本身其實沒什麼了不起,做兩個箱涵把污水全部截到污水處理場,再把污水處理場升級,變成高級處理,處理完以後的水再放回來,中港大排就變成一條乾淨的運河。接下來再進行週邊的都市更新。
為了中港大排,我們在新莊辦民眾論壇,我親自參與了大約一百場,跟民眾對話、聊天。剛開始民眾都會問我:會不會淹水?我說不會。但這地方原來是停車場,必須把加蓋的停車場廢掉,他們就問車子要停哪裡?我說,會幫他們找其他的停車場。而且中港大排本來就不應該加蓋,一加蓋,水就不流通,變得更臭。但是台灣的人就是很愚蠢,他覺得車子一定要停在家門口,不願意多走五分鐘的路。我說要環境改善就必須做一點犧牲,不能夠什麼都想要。
還有,當時雖然我沒說,但事實上,十年以後根本沒有人會開車,因為油太貴了,沒人開得起。而且幾年以後這裡的捷運就蓋好了,根本就不需要開車!
除了對話之外,我們把所有資訊全部放在網站上,全部公開透明,所以也就不會有任何醜聞。這就是說,決策應該是要由下而上。否則,工程做到一半就會被「堵」,民眾就開始丟雞蛋、抗爭。
我們把中港大排做起來以後,當地有一些文史工作者、有環境意識的人出來了,他們自己會去觀察、去要求,他們會去想:我對新莊有什麼樣的期許?我們未來的社區應該是什麼樣子?到了這邊,我們就可以放手了。所以這是一個非常成功的案例,台北縣再讓我們建設下去,台北市就要損失五十萬人!因為我們的規畫絕對比台北市好。

人籟:有人說治水是很專業的,很難讓民眾完全了解,您以為呢?

李:我不這麼認為。例如我到嘉義東石去和漁民對話,他們都是鄉下的歐吉桑和歐巴桑,但只要用他們能理解的方式,他們絕對可以了解。東石鄉的地層下陷問題很嚴重,只要大潮一來就淹水。這地方一年養殖的產值是六十億,其中有二十億是近海養殖,四十億是陸上養殖。你們知道水利署在這邊投多少錢治水嗎?兩百五十億!
政府投資兩百五十億,讓他們一年賺四十億,但這裡一年抽取六十億噸的地下水,相當於台灣一百五十座水庫的水量。一噸的水可以賣九塊錢。六十億噸的水值五百四十億。這筆帳該怎麼算?
我如果是主事者,我會跟漁民說,我給你們四十億,不要再養殖,不要再抽地下水。這是最笨的做法,但起碼地層就不會再下陷。我就這樣去跟當地漁民談,大家都認為漁民一定會反對我,結果出乎大家預料,漁民們並不反對。
因為這些漁民要從事養殖,他至少要先投資一千萬去買鰻苗,鰻苗只有百分之七十會長大,一碰到淹水就破產了。這是一個非常高風險的行業。漁民說他們也不願意這樣,但是他們沒有選擇的餘地,因為政府沒有給他另外一條路走!
我問那些漁民,如果政府把你的魚塭租下來,不要養魚了,但至少會有固定的收入。接下來可以把這裡改造成人工濕地兼滯洪池,東石、布袋、義竹三個鄉的面積有兩百六十五平方公里,我把其中五十平方公里拿來做滯洪池,上面再種滿荷花、蓮花、筊白筍…所有的水生植物,候鳥會飛來棲息,這地方不再是風頭水尾,會變成全台灣最漂亮的地方。這樣不是很好嗎?
然後我們再把地勢填高、營造新市鎮,漁民往後就靠觀光、休閒旅遊的收入來生活。這樣不好嗎?幹嘛每天那麼辛苦,還要冒這麼大的風險從事養殖、生活在一個每天都淹水的地方?結果他們都願意,沒有人反對。事實上,若再繼續抽取地下水,有一天,他們的家就在海底下了。繼續抽到最後,抽出來的就是鹽水,也不能養殖,而且淹水的風險越來越高。與其要賭賭看還可以養幾年,不如趁現在停下來,給他們一個新的選擇。

人籟:的確是很好的計劃,但為何不能實現呢?

李:這個計劃所有人都贊成,嘉義縣政府贊成,水利署贊成。但是這件事跨了五個部會,跨了二十個中央單位,沒有一個單位說了算。因為要解決嘉義的淹水問題,要從農業政策看起、要從城鄉規劃談起、要從觀光旅遊講起,最後才是水利署。我們把所有的擔子壓在水利署身上,他們當然不曉得該怎麼辦。
所以最根本的就是法令,然後是政策。我們的問題是國家沒有政策。大到全球氣候變遷,小到治水,國家是沒有政策的。
還有,一定要對話。我們台灣人總是還沒開始對話,就先假設別人一定會反對。彰雲嘉地區大概有99%的地下水井是違法的,沒人敢去封,為什麼?因為選票、因為民粹。

人籟:針對許多環保團體抗議的淡北快速道路開發案,是否也應該展開對話?

李:當然,我們很樂意和他們對話。當然,有對話就有妥協、協商,這是民主社會。但是在對話中,我會讓你了解我的難處,你也會了解我的難處。大家互相妥協,只要有一個共同的目標,就可以往前走。

人籟:回歸到您所強調的「人」的層面,台北縣如何進行?

李:台北縣從治水、城鄉規劃到G3產業,全部都靠對話、靠教育、靠公民意識的喚醒。所以,教育是我們的重點。我把三百個學校的校長集中起來,重新喚起校長們身為知識份子的良知意識,讓校長們動起來、讓老師們動起來、讓孩子動起來。寄望在下個世代,下下個世代。
我們在八里成立了一所永續環境教育中心,它是台北縣永續教育的引擎,他們為孩子做教材、做課程、辦活動。台北縣有幾十個生態重點學校,還有幾十個特色學校,這些孩子每個禮拜都有機會到人工濕地、到山上、到溪谷裡去進行課外教學,不只是去玩,而是非常知識性的。這些孩子就是我們未來的公民。

人籟:針對十月四日將在縣府舉辦的「台灣文化Vs.全球暖化國際研討會」,您有何期許?

李:全球氣候變遷的解決方案要真正落實,就必須回到法治面,然後我們會發現台灣的法律出了問題、政策出了問題、媒體出了問題。為什麼?因為民眾的是非判斷出了問題。再追根究柢下去,是文化的問題。所以文化是最重要的一環。
所以這次的國際研討會,我們希望從文化的對話開始。所以我希望來的不見得都是專家,而是各行各業的人。此外,我們也希望和與會者分享台北縣的治理經驗,因為,如果台北縣可以做得到,台灣也一定做得到!


(BOX)

【李鴻源小檔案】

現任台北縣副縣長,美國愛荷華大學土木暨環境工程系博士及碩士,曾任國立台灣大學土木工程學系教授、UNESCO-IHE聯合國教科文組織客座教授、台灣省農田水利聯合建設基金管理委員會主任委員、台灣省政府水利處處長、台灣水利環境科技研究發展教育基金會執行長、荷蘭Dr. James Soong Taiwan-Delft Foundation執行長等職。

附加的多媒體:
{rokbox}media/articles/LeeHongYuan_Water.jpg{/rokbox}
Buddhism’s present revival in China is remarkable in two respects: it combines the richness of a bimillennial religious, spiritual and cultural tradition with the dynamics of a reinvention which nowadays makes the Buddhist monastic communities one of the most notable and organized forces of the civil Chinese society. One would be tempted to say: when China will awake…Buddha will smile!

In China, the temples asserted themselves very soon as the epicenter of the Buddhist expansion all over China: a liturgical place, the temple acts as a collective intercessor for the community of believers directing to it their wishes and their prayers, especially for the deceased; a place of learning, the great temples make it possible to carry on through several centuries the translation of the Buddhist canon into Chinese, one of the greatest editorial enterprises of history, and to multiply the interpretations of it; a place of power, the temple knows how to negotiate its relationship with the great men and women of the locality and then of the Empire, although this model was held at bay at the time of the big persecution of the ninth century, partly due to the concentration of wealth realized by the monastic communities.

The reconstruction of Chinese Buddhism after the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution relied therefore on the monastic institution, as it was already the case in other times. Furthermore, the recognition of the role of the Chinese Buddhist Association and the concomitant creation of “transmission belts” between the Power and the local religious organizations go hand in hand with a greater communication and solidarity between the various centers, big or small, which, taken as a whole, innervate Chinese Buddhism. In other words, Chinese Buddhism seems to be more robust and more interdependent today than at any time in the past.

It is not so easy to describe the Chinese Buddhist world in its totality. Monks and nuns, be they still novices or already ordained, are easily identified by their clothing, their tonsure, and, for those who have been ordained, by their ordination certificates as by the scars on the head following the fulfilled rites. But the faithful are not recognizable in the crowd of those who visit the temples, so great is the diversity of their motivations and behaviors. The quality of “Buddhist faithful” (jushi) is normally reserved for those who have formally taken refuge (guiyi) in the “three Jewels” (The Buddha, the Law, the Community) and in return have received a certificate, which they can show at the entrance of a temple to be exempted the admission fees or to get board and lodging for instance. The levels of membership are many and not always so clearly identified.
The visitor of a Buddhist monastery will generally be struck by the predominance of young monks, often already at the head of their monasteries, sometimes graduated from prestigious universities, and the production of this elite of clerics is facilitated by regulations reserving the admission into Buddhist studies centers to those of less than thirty years of age as an average. Beside these young monks, who are more and more engrossed in their tasks – construction of buildings, setting up of research centers, libraries of social institutions-, one will see usually some quite old and silent monks: entered at a very young age in the monasteries, and long before the turmoil of the sixties, they had already assimilated the spirit and the traditions of the School to which belonged their temple, and managed to survive and then to start anew some communities at the beginning of the eighties, before handing over their responsibilities to their successors.

Of course, with the passing of time, the absence of an intermediary generation, so much conspicuous between about 1985 and 2000, is less visible now, and the generation today in power has progressively asserted its experience and its authority. The nature and the exercise of this authority depend mostly on a transformation in the economic bases of the monasteries: the exploitation of the agricultural estates was replaced by an increased dependence on donations (from overseas first, then from local donors), on the help of the governmental agencies (for the reconstruction of buildings in particular), on the practice of rituals, and on some specialized productions. The monks affiliated to a given monastery receive generally a modest allowance, in nature or in cash, in return for their liturgical talents or by other services.

One cannot understand the present state of Chinese Buddhism by looking only at its two extremes – the time of its beginnings, when the look of the monastic community has taken form, and the reconstruction boom of the last two or three decades. One must also say a word about the ups and downs of its history throughout the last 150 years. For the destructions of the Cultural Revolution had been preceded by those of the Taiping Rebellion (1851-1864), particularly in South China, the traditional Buddhist bastion. The subsequent effort of reconstruction coincided then with the rising internal criticisms concerning the system of formation and the (non) effective aspects of precepts. Chinese Buddhism was entering the era of the aggiornamento. Some of the reformer monks advocated mainly going back to the ancient disciplines, selecting a small number of texts and practices of meditation to be privileged. A little later, another trend, of which the monk Taixu (1890-1947) is the most well known representative, undertook a modernization of Buddhism, following a way of doing close to that of the Chinese Republicans of the beginning of the last century – the ideal “science and democracy” applied, so to speak, to the religious sphere. The role of the laity was emphasized. The monastic education was also to approach the mode of the western universities. The creation, in this first half of the twentieth century, of the Chinese Buddhist Association, the popularization of a “humanistic Buddhism” or “Buddhism in the world” (renjian fojiao), the contacts between monks and political leaders of that time, all these characteristics have probably helped shape the look taken by the Chinese Buddhism when it recovered a relative freedom of movement after 1980. In the same time, the debates which characterized the revival of the years 1870-1940 are still present today within a Buddhist community which must from now on define its relationship with the post-modernity of a China in constant transformation.

According to the opinion of the majority of observers, and this in spite of the difficult interpretation of statistics, the two religions whose growth is today the fastest in China are obviously Buddhism and Christianity. A multiform growth, which must not hide the weaknesses, the divisions and the contradictions within these believing communities. The question of the stature and of the influence of Tibetan Buddhism with respect to Han Buddhism will mark the next development of the first of these two religions. And the influence of the evangelist groups, or, on the contrary, syncretists, within Catholicism as well as within Protestantism, will determine the final relation between Christianity on one hand, and Chinese society and power on the other one – Christianity being perceived by the authorities with more suspicion than a Buddhism reputed more “national” and politically accommodating. But still, it is the very interaction between these two religions which is going also to exert its influence on the future outlines of the Chinese civilian society, reducing it to a series of juxtaposed communities, mutually ignoring the groups nearby, or favoring mutual understanding and interconfessional collaboration. If both believing expressions, as one may assume, go beyond the present stage of their growth crisis, if both can assert themselves as authentically “Chinese” and nevertheless universal religions, their interaction will determine how China takes part in the cultural globalization.
To know more on this topic, read C. Cochini’s book (in French)

{rokbox}media/articles/BV_bouddhismChina.jpg{/rokbox}
Monday, 25 August 2008 23:00

A visit to Losheng sanitarium in Taiwan

Today I visited Taiwan’s famous Losheng Sanitarium (樂生療養院), a leper colony built by the Japanese colonial government in Xinzhuang City, Taipei County. As in leper colonies throughout the world, Taiwanese victims of Hansen’s Disease were forcibly imprisoned in Losheng by the government, as they were in Japan by the government there. Although the leper imprisonment order was lifted in Taiwan in the 1950s , they have for the most part remained. With modern medicine the patients are no longer inmates, and no longer contagious, but nothing can de-cripple them or regrow their missing fingers and stumpy limbs. And they have nowhere to go, and no way to survive except by public welfare of some sort.

I had first heard of Losheng perhaps a couple of years ago, due to the wave of protests to the government’s plan to demolish the entire complex to make way for a train depot, as part of Taipei metro’s never-ending expansion plan. Although there are naturally no opponents to MRT expansion itself, there have been severe doubts regarding the sense of building the depot in this particular location, which apparently requires the leveling of mountain to create flat ground which naturally occurs elsewhere and is widely suspected of having been chosen to satisfy local political interests before practical considerations of engineering.

Primary opposition to the plan however, is due to a desire to preserve Losheng. The adage goes something like, you never really appreciate something to it’s gone, and it is born out time and again in the history of urban preservation. New York City’s historical preservation regime was established in the wake of the foolhardy and abhorrent demolition of Penn Station in the 1960s, and throughout the world preservationist activity is often triggered by the threat of imminent loss. The government’s plan to demolish the place made people realize for the first time that it was worth preserving, and recent protests have spurred a surge of interest in the hospital site and its residents that has gone beyond simple preservationism to community organizing attempting to integrate Losheng, which for most of its existence was in principle as isolated as a prison, into the surrounding community. This has led to large numbers of non afiliated visitors spending time with the patients for probably the first time in many years, if not ever.

roy_berman_losheng_3It turns out that from the articles I had read in The Taipei Times, not to mention the briefer pieces I saw in Japanese media I had no idea what it was like. When I read about a hospital/leper sanitarium being destroyed to make way for MRT construction I had for some reason imagined a cluster of shabby old buildings on a city street corner. But of course a leper colony could not be in such a place, and is in fact built on slightly elevated and up-sloping terrain on mountain foothills of a part of Taipei county that, at the time, was mostly farmland. Less a modern style hospital or a prison, Losheng is actually a sprawling and rather pleasant, almost collegiate-looking, campus with abundant greenery and attractive brick buildings. The main hospital building looks properly medical, and the general sense of design reflects its Japanese period origins, with semi-exposed corridors reminiscent of the older buildings on the Japanese Imperial Universities of the early 20th century, such as today’s National Taiwan University or Kyoto National University (the two examples whose architecture I am familiar with). Most other buildings are also in the pre-war Japanese style common in Taiwan, with a few notable exceptions. The least Japanese buildings in Losheng are probably the Buddhist temple, which is in standard Taiwanese style, and the now shuttered Catholic Church, which is perhaps the most spartan Catholic church building I have ever seen, with only a spare cross on the roof and no writing of any kind on the outside, but with a green Chinese roof, oddly complete with dragon tiles on the corners, and outer walls painted in the Chinese temple fashion. It reminds me of nothing so much as the far more elaborate Tainan Catholic cathedral, which is constructed and painted completely in the manner of a Chinese temple, if you do not look too close at the paintings. Of particular interest are the residence buildings for patients (originally, remember, inmates) from particular parts of Taiwan, such as Penghu or Tainan, donated by the governments of that region.

I mentioned above activity integrating the Losheng campus into the greater community. This consists of various activities, such as holding lectures and community meetings inside Losheng, or educational programs for children. As chance had it, I happened to go on a day which was particularly active. Community activists are currently running a summer camp for children from various elementary schools in the area, using various Losheng buildings for different activities. I was taken to see the room being used for a week-long Japanese language class run by a Japanese woman studying a PhD in Urban Planning at National Taiwan University, in the room of the hospital building where the sickest patients were brought, connected by a locked iron door to the much smaller room where they were taken to die. This is either morbidly incongruous beyond belief, or an excellent symbol of the way in which the space is being reclaimed and repurposed from its grim past. But little of that darkness remains. The staff (mostly Taiwanese college students) had cleaned the room fastidiously, and it was festooned with child drawings illustrating various basic Japanese words and phrases.

Then I went to a much larger room, a sort of meeting hall I suppose, where the kids were being led in Japanese songs by some of the old patients who remember their Japanese well. One played the keyboard-no easy task with hands ravaged by Hansen’s Disease, while another sat in front of the stage in his motor chair, leading the children in Furosato.

After the class was over, I spent some time speaking to the old men, who seemed both movingly thrilled and slightly amazed to have so many young people, children, teenagers and 20-somethings, having fun inside Losheng and spending time with the patients as human beings, and not afraid of their no longer contagious disease. As is the case with many elderly Taiwanese, their first language is Taiwanese (aka Minnan, Hoklo, Fukkianese, etc.) Their Mandarin is generally weak and heavily accented, and most of them also speak Japanese to some degree, having undergone elementary education during the colonial period. I spent the most time speaking with one old man, Chang Wen-pin 张文贫, whose fluent Japanese was easily the best out of the group.

Mr. Chang, now 81 if my calculations are correct, went to a Japanese colonial elementary school in Taiwan and worked as, I think, a locksmith both under the Japanese and in the early years of the KMT, before he was interned. He was around 20 years old at the time of the 228 incident, and considers Chiang Kai-shek to be the worst thing to have happened to Taiwan.

To paraphrase, translated and from memory:

Taiwan’s history is full of tragedy. After WW2 Taiwan shouldn’t have been given to Chiang Kai-shek, but instead the allies should have occupied it. America, England and Russia should have managed Taiwan and then organized it for independence. If they had done that then we would have avoided the 228 massacre and noone in Taiwan would be speaking Mandarin (lit: guoyu) today!

Mr. Chang and the others made me promise to come back and visit next time I come to Taiwan, and before I left he made me wait while he went back to his room and brought a copy of the photo and essay book about Losheng assembled by the preservationist activists, which he signed and gave to me.

roy_berman_losheng_2Countless speakers have said that “A society is ultimately judged by how it treats its weakest and most vulnerable members.” The leper has always been a symbol for the lowest in society, and despite having no use for religion myself, I think I can understand why Mr. Chang finds his solace in Christianity, a religion in which the leper is a symbol not of disgust, but of redemption. It says a lot of a society in which lepers are no longer lepers, but patients, and the resurrection of Losheng from a medical prison into a park where children play may be taken as a symbol for Taiwan’s transformation from colony and then military dictatorship into the relatively free and effectively independent country that it is today. But the current metro expansion plan still requires the demolition of something like 30-40% of Losheng’s territory, with some buildings kept in place, a few relocated, and many destroyed entirely. Even the preservationists have abandoned their attempts to save the entire site, with construction of the nearby depot building already well under way, and their best case plan today is the “90% plan.” There is still room for improvement.

{rokbox size=|544 384|thumb=|images/stories/thumbnails_video/roy_losheng_thumb.jpg|}media/articles/RoyBerman_Losheng.swf{/rokbox}

Monday, 25 August 2008 20:39

Sustainable construction in community

In 1999, the "921" earthquake and the subsequent flooding in Taiwan had caused severe damages to indigenous communities. Our organization was invited to reconstruct house and communities of the disaster-struck areas.
The challenges for us were both to build houses with extremely tight budget (25%-50% of the market price) and to base our practice on the notion of sustainable construction, such as green building, cultural preservation and creation of local employment opportunities. Such experience has given us confidence to start promoting ecological housing in China’s rural areas in 2004. At the same time, we are engaged in the planning of housing reconstruction in tsunami-affected areas in Indonesia.
So far as these projects are concerned, light-weight steel construction plays a central role, in putting our ideas and theories to work and in making the technical breakthrough. The attached documents demonstrate our efforts in rationalizing the usage of light-weight steel, increasing its flexibility, and combining it with materials such as wood, straw, mud, brick, stone and cement, in order to achieve the goal of green and environmental-friendly construction. More importantly, we are making every effort to sustain the affordability and accessibility of this construction technology. We have simplified light-weight steel construction so that community people with no professional skills can participate in the building process. Being an open building system, it is adjustable to different needs, and is easy to maintain and replace. In this way, the expensive light-weight steel construction is turned into a construction system affordable and accessible to the general public. At the same time, it can be integrated with traditional cultures as well as the current social and economic conditions of a local area.

*Background*
The reconstruction of indigenous residences destroyed during the 921 earthquake in Taiwan became a major battle in the struggle for sustainable construction. The majority of tribes are located in ecological sensitive areas, or near reservoirs or wildlife-protected areas. Many of them are also facing the problems of preservation of cultural heritage under economic disadvantages.
Such a consideration differs from the prevailing approaches of the architectural technology. It requires a holistic approach capable of combining very diverse elements, such as community solidarity, environmental protection and the conservation of tribal cultural heritage. It also requires an innovative approach to tackling economic issues by offering an alternative in the form of semi-independent construction system, housing cooperatives and micro-finance supporting strategy.

*Process*
In the aftermath of the earthquakes, with the invitation from community organizations and anthropologists, Atelier-3 and Hsieh Architect And Associates, participated the settlement and rehabilitation of Thao Tribe, the smallest indigenous tribe in Taiwan. This responsibility means more than building a number of houses but also includes seeking for solutions, together with tribal residents, to preservation of the tribe and its culture, land disputes, livlihood-making, relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous communities, conflict of local interests etc.
The idea of promoting construction solidarity aims to initiate rehabilitation from strengthening psychological capacity and sense of community through mobilizing members of the tribe to build up their own tribe again with their own hands. This mobilization will also provide substantial foundation for future challenges.
During the community rebuilding process, we also introduce various environmental practices and make them a part of daily living than simply ideas.
We extend the experiences gained from the rehabilitation of the Thao tribe, with further design and planning, to assist other tribal communities.
Professional skills and management training have also been conducted in the process of promoting construction solidarity. Now a working group of 15 long-term members and 20 part-time members resulted from the training also join the reconstruction of tribal communities as well as other commercial construction projects.

Outcome……
Over 300 units of residences, library and indigenous classroom in Thao Tribe, Kadu Tribe, Tan-nan Tribe, Yabish Trible, Teinhuw Tribe were built.

Technical adoptions(I)——Simplified construction methods
One of the keys to encourage construction solidarity is to simplified materials, tools and construction methods. Particularly, after the earthquakes, individuals with professional construction skills often maintain their job opportunities, and the labor force available is mostly unemployed individuals without trained construction skills. If construction solidarity groups would like to transform into cooperatives, almighty worker is necessary.
Light-weight steel is utilised as main structure with lateral support from bracing and shear wall. Comparing with the balloon system in US, it needs fewer connecting points. In addition, all connecting points can be installed with bolt easily.

Technical adoptions(II)——Open building
We promote the capacity of connecting and interchanging different construction materials. Thus, it allows diverse possibilities under various needs of community, culture and living requirements. Other important factors to the establishment of self-sufficient construction system include the accessibility of materials and simplified processing.

*Self- sufficient construction system*
Small-ranged self-sufficient construction system promote the integration of local materials and labor force. In other words, it helps reduce transportation and over-consumption resulted from the convenience of information technology and modern transportation.
Current building industry is a highly professionally differentiated, capitalized and monopolized system, which provides little opportunity to economically disadvantaged people to fulfill their dreams. Many of them get small aids from the government, but can find no established architectural firms to take up their projects. The key to solve the problem is to establish a construction system which is self-sufficient and independent from the market. In the future, this system may expand its capacity to cooperative-like organizations and micro-finance economy.
Residence reconstruction can be completed with simply 25% of market price through community labor exchange.
Only very simple production facilities are required.
Community labour exchange: All labour is treated and exchanged equally during the construction process. A labour system is built up segregated from the mainstream job market. Through this system, the basic rights of employment and survival may maintain.

*Community--consciousness and cultural diversity*
Construction solidarity aims to retrieve the house-building rights from construction company and emphasizes on the idea of solidarity rather than DIY. Through this movement, it also cultivates community--consciousness . The advantages and flexibility of open building encourage the participation of community members, as a result, develop diverse culture and architecture context.
Environment
This topic includes green building and environmental education.

*Green building*
Materials: Utilizing raw materials, such as bamboo, wood, stone, clay and reusable steel, aluminum
Save energy : Adopting adequate insulation, ventilation, lighting
Environmental Education

These ideas may become a participatory social movement only when they can be understood by general public and practiced in daily life. There are a total of 800 person-times participated in Thao project, 300 person-times in Song-he project, 2000 person-times in Tan-nan project (2003), 1900 person-times in community classrooms building projects and 3,500 person-times in residence rebuilding projects. Each participant gained personal experience in carrying out the ideas of green building.
---------------------------------------------
Shufan Yang, a Renlai contributor, did a short aprrenticeship in Atelier 3:

Attached media :
{rokbox}media/articles/HsiehYingchun_sustainablearchi.jpg{/rokbox}

Help us!

Help us keep the content of eRenlai free: take five minutes to make a donation

AMOUNT: 

Join our FB Group

Browse by Date

« January 2020 »
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

We have 2961 guests and no members online