Professor Siu sent me this wonderful picture of an informal shrine set up by the protesters. He wrote, "The Guan Gong statue was worshiped by both the Police and the Triad Societies… And the citizens used this to counter their power against the protesters.
How do we reconcile this abstract notion of chronological time? Perhaps through our own experience and the stories we hear and tell.
Why 15 minutes of fame and not 10, 12 or 16 minutes? Laurie Andersen told the audience in one of her performances that 15 minutes is the time that it takes for an intercontinental ballistic missile to fly from the former Soviet Union to the United States.
Why do men and women in Japan choose different times to kill themselves? Men often commit suicides in the early hours of the morning, when the family is asleep. The women, on the other hand, after the children have gone to school.
A fascinating observation by one of the Pro-Democracy protestors from Hong Kong as described by the South China Morning Post.
"It's an enjoyment to be here. Here in Admiralty, you can find a more humane Hong Kong where people are helping each other out every minute," says Cheung. "There is no noise from traffic, but birds singing. You see trees, you live a way slower pace of life ... it's beautiful," he says. "It gives people an opportunity to experience the preciousness of public space." Retrieved October 5, 2014 from http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1609580/live-chinese-university-urges-students-leave-thousands-gather
"I lived and studied under the path (where the banking occurs) of the Rwy 13 Approach back then, it was noisy enough to interrupt our teacher every 3 minutes for say 20 seconds. And there was "always" a plane departing in between the 3 minutes interval, although not as noisy as it flew over towards the sea. I also noticed that, the local players, namely Cathay Pacific, usually made the approach path a bit wider and a bit more towards the hill so they can have a longer final and a shallower angle of turn, then the published procedure. Also rememered I can occasionally feel and hear the wake turbulance even from a meduim weight aircraft, from my school playing ground in the good old days...Long live Kai Tak." Accessed March 15, 2010, http://www.liveatc.net/forums/listener-forum/kai-tak-old-hong-kong-airport/5/?wap2.
Based on the above account, In a typical elementary school day of 6 hours (360 minutes), the teacher stopped a total of 40 minutes. In one school week of 5 days, the teacher stopped a total of 200 minutes or 3.33 hours. In one month of 21 school days (assuming no public holidays), the teacher stopped for a total of 70 hours.
The story of the Wa Fu community space began almost 30 years ago. The place was a destination for residents living in the near by housing estate to leave their statues of porcelain deities when they relocated or when the religion was no longer practiced by the younger generation after the passing of the elderly family member. The stepped profile of the ground leading to the sea is an ideal site to place the deities. They are secured individually by a layer of cement to prevent them from toppling over during a typhoon. Through time, a sea of porcelain deities slowly emerges and are they cared for by a group of elderly residents. Some deities are protected by simple shelters while others share their spaces with toy figurines that were also left here. A self-constructed shelter serves as both a community space for the elderly and for them to keep their belongings. A well close-by provides fresh water for cleaning after taking a dip in the sea. We were told it is a popular activity among the elderly and younger residents. Some come for a swim early in the morning before heading off to work.
The hillside informal shrine in So Uk Estate is connected to a larger network of elderly walkers and informal social spaces. The shrine is situated along a path that winds up the hillside, which is a favorite spot for the mostly elderly residents and housewives to engage in their morning walks and exercises. The shrine is often a stop over for the residents. They would offer incense or a simple prayer at the shrine on their way up or down the hill during their morning exercise routines. Besides exercising, the residents have also undertaken small, self-initiated actions along the various exercising spots; such as plant caring, building of small concrete steps to link disconnected parts of the hillside and allow a safer walk up the hill, introducing resting spots, setting up support facilities for the morning exercises, and repairing broken planters. Water for the plants is collected from the natural run-offs from the hill in small pails and buckets. The So Uk Estate shrine and the adjacent exercising spots are excellent examples of bottom-up initiatives in place-making. It makes a strong case for allowing urban dwellers to take control and have the opportunity to shape their immediate spaces in the city rather than top-down initiatives that often miss the point and cost much more than they should.
A lot has been published and spoken about creativity and innovation, with business schools jumping onto the bandwagon proclaiming design thinking as the next big savior that will bring about innovation in the business world. Some even claim they teach design, and travel the world peddling their one-liners and design workshops. It is good, on the one hand, that the popularization of design has given the field a wider audience and expanded the scope of design services. However, it has also greatly undermined the deeper value of a good design education.
Therefore, Robert Grudin’s book, The Grace of Great Things is a breath of fresh air for me as an educator and a lifelong student of architecture and design. Grudin situates creativity and innovation within a larger social context that demands the persistent renewal and questioning of self and the world. To be creative requires the development of character, and enduring human values of imagination, integrity, courage and surprisingly, the value of pain as well. Pain in the creative process, which he identified four types; perception, expression, closure and self-expression, is vital if one were to overcome psychological barriers of stepping into the unknown, of persisting, completing and accepting criticism. For Grudin, modern society’s desire to remove pain, to avoid unpleasant moments, to be overly accommodating and to have excuses for failure to the point of blaming the system has developed into what he termed as a ‘rhetoric of failure’.
Despite the unpleasant living conditions in a partitioned apartment in Hong Kong, a resident composed a poignant poem on 32 square ceramic tiles. Each character and stanza fitted nicely within the given space.
An interesting feature of highly urbanised and Westernised Asian cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore is the occasional Chinese religious shrine lying next to a tree, in a discrete section of a public space or at a certain road junction. Some of them are erected by individuals or groups to express their gratitude for an answered prayer or to ensure a harmonious environment. Others begin when the altars of “house gods” or religious statues are “left behind”, because the previous owners have relocated to another home, or because the younger generation no longer observes the same religious practices after the passing of elder family members. To the older Chinese generation, religious statues formerly acquired for home collection and worship are not to be discarded disrespectfully. They are either given to another “caretaker” or are relocated to auspicious places, such as under a tree or beside a roadside rock.