Jiading Wetlands Youth reflect on renewed activism

by Marcia McNally

Over the past month and a half, the issue of Jiading Wetlands has resurfaced. This time the catalyst has two parts: the recent approval of the second Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for Road 1-4 and the determination by Kaohsiung City Government that Jiading’s designation should remain that of “local significance”. See the Jiading campaign page for a detailed history and summary of current activity: https://saveinternational.org/saveinaction/jiading-wetlands/ .

Local, national, and international outcry has resulted. The on-the-ground response by Jiading supporters has been very active and creative -– street theatre, lobbying of wetlands scientists, television appearances, and a new “Say Hello Market” to reach out to local residents about the issue.

Central to this surge has been Jiading Wetlands Youth (JWY). I recently asked if the group if they would reflect on this experience and provide their thoughts to SAVE to post on our blog. Here is what they say.

Dong-Yo

Through the workshop [Activism Workshop in 2015], we learned the history of anti-Binnan and the action which SAVE took in Chi-Gu [Chiku] wetland. From these bases, we started to think about how deep-tourism/eco-cultural tourism will change the political and economic situation in Jiading. These precious experiences lighten our faith in achieving conservation goal as well as the future development of Jiading.
在工作坊後,了解當初七股黑面琵鷺保育的行動案例和展現茄萣地區對於生態旅遊的可能性,幫助我們在後續的運動中,能更有踏實的經驗與根據,雖然至今仍然居於劣勢,但相信這會是未來走向,也讓年輕一輩對於茄萣的發展有明顯的目標與信心。

Dong-yo got interviewed by TV (2:12-2:38):
茄萣濕地鋪路 黑面琵鷺棲地告急 – 華視新聞網

It is absolutely not an ideal construction. Look at this beautiful place in our hometown. I couldn’t understand why people ask for constructions and factories on it.

Dong-Yo got interviewed after Wetland Reassessment public hearing:
有濕地就沒有明天?高雄茄萣里長集體反對劃設濕地─上下游News&Market

“Some local people are still thinking in the old ways of developmentalism. We are all eager to see a better Jiading, but we forgot that the benefits that Jiading Wetland provided are the most precious and fundamental ones.”
守護茄萣濕地青年聯盟的施東佑,以學生身分積極參與公共事務。他在說明會後表示,「今天鄉親的意見都是舊思維,大家都在想如何開發土地才能發展地方,可是卻都忘了,茄萣濕地的資源,才是社區未來的基礎。」

Zhi-Yu

Dr. Randy and Professor Marcia [Randy Hester and Marcia McNally, Workshop instructors and SAVE members],

Long time no see. I really miss you two and your lecture since Jiading Activism Workshop. It provided us with a good opportunity of empowerment. I felt that the most important lesson we learned is the clear direction for the future Jiading rather than the skill in operating protest.

The workshop facilitated us in two perspectives. First, it is fundamental that protestors provide an alternative development blueprint in the process since locals are eager to see the prosperity of their own town; that is why the report from SAVE is so influential in persuading the public. We recently started a new project which is named “siàn hái-hong tshī-á” in Taiwanese (“Say Hello Market” in English) according to the idea. Secondly, our works as organisers and activists require practices on courage and accumulation of experiences as well as skills. As Dr. Randy reminded us, we tried to work equally, creatively and irregularly in running JWY. And our actions proved that only when we are working creatively can we break the limitations in promoting issues to the public, improve our cohesion, and win public support. Specifically, some teenagers, college students studying elsewhere, and young locals with activist experience joined us through the events we held these three years.
最重要的是提出一個在反對運動中的新方向,居民冀望開路是因為開路對於地方發展提出一個希望,既然我們反對開路,就勢必得提出一個新的發展方向,這就是「搧海風市仔(siàn hái-hong tshī-á)」的核心關懷。第二個覺得重要的是組織者/行動者在從事這些運動的時候,平時的習慣積累和心態上的調整,例如Randy教授講的運動習慣,和每天都要從事一些反常規的事情(例如穿越馬路)。這些習慣在類似茄萣濕地的這種長久戰中相當有助益,能夠延長自己在運動中的壽命,不至於只是曇花一現、後繼無力。

On the other hand, the EIA (under local government and Environmental Protection Administration) and Wetland Reassessment (under Ministry of the Interior) is still in process. We have delivered the message that Road 1-4 is unnecessary and the idea of alternative development to the press and at the EIA public hearing. And it is exciting that the supporting rate has decreased from 75%(2014) to 58%(2016). This is encouraging that the public opinion is gradually shifting to our side. Therefore, we will emphasize the “development for the community” and “Plan B” to locals, considering wetland environment.
在今年環評與相關媒體上的發言,我們不只強調這條道路的非必要性,以及民意支持度的顯著下滑(2014年7成5,現5成8),還表示我們也是希望可以開路帶來地方發展,但發展的主體應該是以濕地跟整個社區為主,不應以現有主方案施行,而是考慮替代方案或地下化。

I am happy to see the recent situation, not only because we are practicing our faith for protecting wetland and community, but also the public opinion has been shifting. Last but not least, it is the cooperation of young locals making the changes for our hometown, the place which raised us. This is more like contributing rather than fighting.
做這些事情當然是開心的,第一因為自己帶著秉持的主張站出來了,第二是因為隨著時間拖越久,反對開路運動的成功性就越高,最重要的當然是因為這樣的行動與主張,召喚出一群志同道合的同鄉夥伴,一同為家鄉做些事情,回饋飼育我們長大的土地。

Zhi-Yu got interviewed by Dr. Kuan of PTS News Network:
https://goo.gl/GhKLCx

Zhi-Yu got interviewed by Taiwan Environmental Information Centre:
http://e-info.org.tw/node/118091

JWY publish a public letter to EIA committee members, explaining our consideration to wetland. It has been the long time that the policy makers did not even try to understand youth’s opinion. Therefore JWY organized young people in local area, announcing our claim and tried to make positive changes in local economics and environmental protection.
「守護茄萣濕地青年聯盟則寫了一封給環評委員的信,表達在地土生土長的青年對本案的重視。護茄青李至堉說,一直以來年輕人的聲音都沒有被聽見,因此他們串連在地青年,討論茄萣濕地保育和在地經濟永續發展的議題,並決定共同寫信表達訴求。」

William

The workshop facilitated us with tool box and visions. It has been useful for past two years. Moreover, the workshop accidentally connect different people and organizations, forming a close network for later cooperation in all kinds of protest.

It was very crucial time in late August and early September. I was speaking in the press conference before the Wetland Reassessment Public Hearing and EIA Conference. The card I hold is with two lines of words: “Local Wetland or International Wetland? Reassessment before EIA.”

Video of press conference (link)
The similar report with full opinion (link)

William questioned that the road cost 1.5 billion NTD is ridiculous and it even cost 7.5 million NTD to run this road according to EIA report. Kaohsiung City has been raising debt heavily every year. It is worth to think twice for EIA members as well as voters. Also the road cutting wetland habitats would be a disaster for wetland ecology as well as eco-tourism. In the contrary, City Government and Ministry of Interior both holds policy tools of park planning and area planning for conservation. It is relatively wise to develop local economics that benefits both conservation and aquaculture fisheries by these policy tools.
「守護茄萣濕地青年聯盟代表連子彬也質疑1-4道路對改善當地交通的效益,他說,一條造價1.5億元的道路,完工後每年還要花費748萬元營運,在高雄市舉債情形嚴重下,這樣的道路真的有需要開嗎?相反的,切割的棲地恐造成當地生態觀光收益減少,市府和營建署如何落實明智利用和保育原則,來兼顧當地茄萣、永安大面積魚塭的生計和保育,是護茄青關注的重點。」

Rare Chen

Along with other core members of SAVE’s Jiading network, Rare Chen (not her real name, see below) attended the 2016 International Wetland Convention (http://wetland-tw.tcd.gov.tw/WetLandWeb/wl2016/en/index.html). She distributed leaflets to scholars to introduce Jiading Wetland and appeared in many sessions to talk about Jiading Wetland issues. She says some scholars were really surprised that Jiading Wetland is a winter home for so many Black-faced Spoonbills and couldn’t believe that Kaohsiung City Government wants to build a road through it. This collective action made Jiading a hot topic during the convention.

Jiading Wetlands Youth now recommends that their members use a pseudonym when they take action where they might be exposed on media, for their safety. Some members and their families have met trouble in the Jiading area, especially those who run a business or have stores.

(added October 17 – Rare in her own words:)

9/12的記者會,是第一次面對媒體提出訴求。當天記者會最大的焦點及標題均是,媽媽帶著一歲小孩激動吶喊,無法對下一代交代的歉意。該次的經驗是由於過度焦慮,而無法輕鬆自然的流露「真實情感」,因為這是現今媒體最想要捕捉的畫面(一個誠懇、激動的當地年輕人對土地的掛念和牽絆,最好伴隨眼淚),而不是照著稿紙將訴求講完。一旦媒體不感興趣,自然我們的訴求就沒有版面,沒有版面、議題也推不出去。
It was my first time facing press media on September 12th. The focus of the press conference was a mother of one-year-old baby feeling sorry for her child for the situation of not likely to preserve the whole wetland. I was quite nervous at the time, and I just read through the prewritten content, rather than produce “tears” which press expected (a young lady heartily concerning her hometown and motherland). I was wondering whether this affected the media effects and public opinions.

在參與一連串行動的過程中,有時候我會意識到身為一名女性,在社會運動中的角色以及在行動中的位置,與他者是有所不同的。例如:在與陌生人接觸時,因為社會的刻板印象是女性較不具威脅,因此作為女性有較大的機會接近陌生受眾。由於組織內多數男性,加上亞洲社會對男性的既定束縛(但有時我會分不清楚,是性別角色還是個人特質),部分也展現在組織中的幾位成員身上;在組織內,有時我會因此必須扮演溫柔軟性的角色,將男性成員串連起來,共同完成任務。
Being a woman in all these activist events, there are some different roles among gender and social formations. For example, people usually think a woman is more approachable than a man, so the role of a young woman or a mother usually helps the promotion of the issue. Also, within the organisation, men usually dominate the leadership position with their bondage of gender roles or personal characteristics. So I intentionally play a flexible role to integrate opinions among organisations.

因為地球公民基金會已幫我們爭取到入場的難得機會,在濕地大會上的角色背負著不少期待。當天一開始不太曉得自己可以怎麼做,等著中場休息要去觸及國外學者、也同時等著大會安排的發言時間(在一天議程的最後半小時討論時間中的3分鐘、且是在NGO場次);由於覺得這樣過於被動,於是決定主動出擊,去觀察其他會場的狀況。發現各組的與會者在會議場合裡不太舉手發問,於是覺察當下氛圍,便向報告人提出與其主題相關的問題,並請他以研究中的經驗,提供茄萣濕地一些建議;不同組別裡面,我提出的問題都差不多,但每次提問都更加完整,我發現若要喚起國外學者注意,必須以英文提問(因現場不一定配有翻譯),並且必須在自我介紹提到我來自哪裡、當前面臨什麼危機,請現場學者提供寶貴建議。
We obtained the chance to present at the International Wetland Convention (IWC) by friend organisation “Citizen of the Earth”. I was expected to promote the issue to scientists. Initially, I was asked to talk in an NGO-participation seminar and have no idea with approaching scholars in the convention. However I thought that was too passive, so I decided to approach people and raise questions in other seminars. Various scientists provided their own opinion on the case of Jiading after my explanations.

場外,拿著說帖向國外學者遊說,用非常簡略的英文單字和肢體語言說明茄萣濕地正發生什麼事情,這些學者都非常友善,他們不但很樂意給予我們時間和空間慢慢說明,也樂於了解議題,並且留了名片,讓我們將進一步的資訊寄給他們。(包含Ben LePage, James Perry, Joe S.Y. Lee, Machiel Lamers, 文賢繼, 胡正恆, Reiko Nakamura)
At the break time, I carried the poster with illustration and explained the issue of Jiading Wetland. These scholars are nice and patient. We have collected their name cards and sent them further information. (including Ben LePage, James Perry, Joe S.Y. Lee, Machiel Lamers, 文賢繼, 胡正恆, Reiko Nakamura)

隨年紀的增長,雖然能夠累積經驗和知識,但在濕地大會中的參與,其實老師及前輩們更希望年輕人的投入,這讓我意識到身為一個年輕人,年輕本身非常值錢。青年若能意識到這點,好好抓住年輕的衝勁和初為一塊空白海綿,努力吸收前人寶貴的經驗,並以這個世代擁有的資源和工具去釋放能量,就像目前護茄青的角色一樣,肯定能為世界帶來更多正向的變化。
People become knowledgeable and experienced as times go. However, it was interesting that scholars and NGOs are happier to see the involvement of young people. That made me conscious that being young is very precious that we can act vigorously and absorb knowledge quickly, and we have the advanced information skills as well as tools to help us with these actions. Just like what we are doing right now. I believe that we can make the positive change.

因為跟地球公民的接觸,也讓我大致了解NGO的運作模式,如何推動議題、連結團體,如何運用媒體等。還有對議題的了解,也會在深度參與之後更能認同自己正在做的事,而對議題有更深刻的認同感;因此我也發現,若想要讓一個人認同自己正在參與的事情,讓他對組織產生貢獻,會是很好的第一步。
“Citizen of the Earth” and other friendly environmental organisations had shared their operation skills in issue promotion, as well as organising discussion and press conference. And this made me more confident in what we are doing. I thought that it was great to participate and contribute my efforts on what I sincerely concerned and approved with.

meeting legislator in Taipei

Press conference in front of Executive Yuan
國際保育團體為黑琵請命 三千五百人陳情茄萣濕地是國際級濕地記者會實錄20160912DSCI0002

Press conference in front of Executive Yuan
四千五百人陳情茄萣濕地是國際級濕地 | 地球公民基金會

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One response to “Jiading Wetlands Youth reflect on renewed activism

  1. Very helpful, Marcia, to read these messages and to see how the youth are a part of saving the Jiading Wetlands and thus the black face spoonbills.  You and Randy are to be congratulated for not giving up on this project, and we hope there will be a positive outcome. Thank you for all your hard work!! Pat Schubert

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