Gejia village in Ninghai county, Ningbo, east China’s Zhejiang province, is now filled with artistic and creative designs, thanks to the wisdom and joint efforts of residents in the village.
A cactus-themed bar in the village has become a popular gathering place of local young people, while a craft studio even attracts foreign tourists to learning traditional Chinese handicrafts like bamboo weaving.
The development and good changes in Gejia village couldn’t have happened without the help of an artist team from Renmin University of China.
The artist team, led by Cong Zhiqiang, associate professor at the School of Arts, Renmin University of China, carried out an experiment in the village to explore solutions to problems concerning such aspects as environment improvement, revitalization and development of rural areas and stimulate the endogenous power of villagers.
With the help of the team, Gejia village started to witness heartening changes. These changes have also inspired residents in the village to actively transform their village with practical actions and innovative ideas.
As far as Cong is concerned, he didn’t do much for the village, and all he did was to “empower villagers and stimulate the creativity and enthusiasm in them”.
Artistic spark has ignited the enthusiasm of residents in Gejia village for development, inspired their aspirations for a better life, and reflected their positive response to participating in the construction of their hometown.
The changes in Gejia village makes people think about the question: How to empower villages and better stimulate villagers’ endogenous power and enthusiasm for development?
Arousing villagers’ subject consciousness is the premise of empowering villages.
In the past, villagers just watched how officials implement plans. Today, they actively participate in the construction of their hometowns.
External assistance mainly serves as guidance on the efforts of local people. Artist teams stationed in villages, like the one led by Cong, are not supposed to provide momentary fun. Instead, they should bring inspiration to villagers through art and help the masses understand, appreciate, pursue and create beauty, thus driving the development of rural areas.
The seeds of art have continued to grow in Gejia village, making the village move more steadily toward growth.
The key to empowering villages lies in tailoring development plans based on local conditions, guiding villagers to the right path, and stimulate their motivation through actual changes of their villages.
Huangyuan village, Wanzai county, Yichun, east China’s Jiangxi province, has managed to help locals become better off by developing wine industry.
In fact, when Liu Yong, first secretary in charge of poverty alleviation in the village, encouraged residents to make wine with local techniques, he didn’t find much favor with the villagers.
He then bought more than 1,750 kilograms of local wine from the villagers, and successfully sold it all within one day during a tourism activity held by the province.
Taking advantage of the success, he fostered several major local winemakers to promote the business. With these winemakers serving as successful examples, more people have been effectively attracted to the industry.
Today, local wine has become a popular specialty and a key to prosperity of Huangyuan village.
Obviously, by making efforts to change certain fixed ideas of villagers, enhancing their capabilities, encouraging them to take the initiative in development, and helping them find their own roles and maximize their value in rural revitalization, villages can enjoy continuous endogenous power toward prosperity.
Efforts should also be made to promote exchanges in the spiritual and cultural level so that successful experience in rural revitalization can be shared more widely.
For example, 13 residents in Gejia village were once invited to bring their creative artworks to a poverty-stricken village in southwest China’s Guizhou province and share their experience in pursuing prosperity. The village has been enjoying pairing assistance from Gejia village in the country’s poverty alleviation campaign.
While offering their experience to the poor village in Guizhou, these people were able to bring back home special techniques in such fields as embroidery, carpentry and wine making from the village. The pairing assistance strategy generates mutual benefits for both sides.
These facts have also proven that whether in coastal areas or remote mountain villages, cultural guidance, combined with local conditions, can surely bring about new ideas for development and new paths for rural revitalization.
The experience of Gejia village and Huangyuan village has mirrored the importance of respecting the wishes of farmers, stimulating their enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity, and turning their dream for a better life into a driving force for rural revitalization.
It is believed that more and better practice in boosting development will emerge in China’s vast rural areas and offer colorful models of rural development.