On cultural bridges – Peggy Liu

I’ve been meaning to comment on this video for a while, as it really has brought back some inspiration on what potential direction to go in life.

For me, I have many interests: I’m a city planner, with a focus on transportation planning, urban design, and community participation.

But, I am constantly reading on sites about graphic design, fashion design, (I am not an expert in these fields) sustainable agriculture, mapping, Chinese contemporary society, Chinese art and traditional music.

A lot of the world’s problems require multi-diciplinary perspectives. Often times, everybody has their own idea of how to change the world. However, without context from other professions, you are left with bubbles; solving the world’s problems are complex and often times you need to have more than one perspective.

An engineer will be great at understanding how things work, but without the policy/market perspective, it becomes challenging. Similarly, dealing with global warming issues with China require cross-global  collaboration. In order to establish that, you really need trust. Trust brings people together; that is extremely difficult to build, and this takes much time.

I need to emphasize this further; if you don’t have trust, if there’s some doubt, a project’s direction or plan can derail.

The phrase cultural bridges really excites me because we need more of that. Everybody has different ways of viewing the world. This also means you have to, as Peggy says, “understand different motivations of different people”.

However, I wish there were more articles discussing how to establish trust using cultural bridges.

The question Liu poses is what industries and jobs can bridge different perspectives together? How to train cross-cultural conveners?

Can I make a stab at this?

It seems that a cross-cultural convener is somebody who has a lot of different interests, is aware of a lot of different things (i.e. generalist), and is able to communicate this to different audiences.

I believe a cross-cultural convener is somebody who has a lot of empathy, asks questions that help bridge people together, is a great story-teller, know how to build trust through social events, activities that are cross-sector, multi-national.

How can you make this a business? Or, if you aren’t that into being specifically an entrepreneur,  how do you make this into a job? For small businesses, how is this not only profitable but also sustainable?

I haven’t figured out this question, but I guess for me, I’ve thought about how I could apply this to my profession as a city planner. I believe that I have to be able to engage different perspectives and develop consensus based on good context.

I’ve thought a bit about becoming a freelance journalist in China (with a focus on urban development issues) while teaching English in China. I believe that I should really expose myself in the world and try out different things before I actually practice city planning. I want to take my time, reflect, and be really good at my craft before coming back and being a city planner. This really involves understanding how to make a sustainable city from a lot of perspectives: economics, energy, environmental science, housing, transportation, marketing, advertising, psychology. This also means actively talking to these groups, teaching them (or through practice) how to communicate their ideas to others in a way that takes into account different people’s motivations. A advertising agency must understand the motivation of a sustainable goods consultant if they want to encourage healthy consumption.

I personally think this takes a lot of practice. Are their companies, teachers, professors willing to hire people to train this sort of cultural-bridge making? (For example, can I be a teacher that offers classes on cultural-bridge making for companies who are interested in investing or doing projects in China?) You really have to practice and discipline yourself to understand other people’s motivations (something I learned in a liberal arts education such as in urban studies). This really takes a lot of friendship building, finding common values. It takes a lot of time.

Can cultural bridge teachers, radio broadcasters (Sinica), culinary tourism organizations help build this? What about leaders in small firms who are able to interpret a client’s motivation? The mediators? What about artists, graphic communicators, people who are in charge of meetings with people from different professions? What about musicians, small restaurant catering services and event planners who coordinate activities just to do cultural bridge making?

I don’t know if I have a answer to this question.


For me, my medium is using art to communicate different ideas across different professions, and let that art provide dialogue, understanding of different motivations.

Any thoughts?

Learn Chinese using ChinaDialogue

Learn Chinese Using ChinaDialougeFor intermediate and advanced Chinese learners, I recommend ChinaDialogue if you want to get acquainted with very technical or high-level topics such as Chinese environment, economy, working conditions, urban development, technology, etc.

What I like about the site is that these articles are short enough but detailed enough that you have a good amount of vocabulary to use. I often use nckiu or plecko while reading the article, print out the article on the side and write notes on sentence structures and patterns. In addition, I often reread the article to try to understand as much as I can.

There are also English versions of these articles to help compare what you read in Chinese, as well as how the original translators translated the Chinese/English versions or vice versa.

As an urban planner, I got interested in the pdf about bikesharing in China.

We need to start making things again:

This article has been all over the place. This quote stands out:

“Companies cut out the bullshit. And, unfortunately, many of the cerebral jobs that were going to ambitious young people were right in the thick of it. This included young lawyers, who pretty much can’t get jobs right now. This included young people in marketing and finance, two departments that do not bring in revenue or keep the factories running.

But guess what isn’t bullshit… making things. There are millions of unfilled jobs in America, and most of them are careers where you actually have to make and build stuff. If you grew up in an affluent environment, then you see your software engineer friends getting jobs easily. But it’s not just them. There are countless labor jobs — everything from HVAC to plumbing — that still pay big dollars. But rich kids don’t even know what those jobs entail.

My advice to young people is to figure out how to make something. That means either working with your hands, or learning how to type code with them.”

I thought of this when I read this article:

【CoSPACE CoCREATE】Shoe Artistry : Coexist


Hangzhou Bikeshare Company doesn’t want to open its bikeshare data up to the public


Imagine creating a real-time app showing how many bikes are available nearby, only to be censored by the government?

There was a smartphone app in Hangzhou that basically gave you real time data of how many bikes are available per bike-sharing station in Hangzhou. This is important for people who are trying to go to a bikesharing station, but need to make sure that they go to a station that actually has bikes.

The defunct Hangzhou Bikesharing App that tells you how many bikes are at each station (掌上杭州)

This app was designed by IT Engineer Zhang Guangyu, who does not work for the Hangzhou Bikesharing company, but managed to get some of the data and turn it into an app. At (2:30), he states that if the company releases the API, it would really help make the data collection a lot easier (he says that other countries release their API).

At 2:41, a representative from the Hangzhou Bikesharing Company states: “How did this citizen obtain our data? Right now, we still don’t know. If he used normal means to access our data, then it is okay. However, if he was able to access our backend data, we feel that his behavior is not appropriate.”

Apparently, despite its popularity, the app started not working several months later. Zhang reported in Sina Weibo (China’s twitter) that the platform data on the app stopped updating.
He believes at (4:05) that his IP was blacklisted, and as a result, the app stopped functioning.

I wasn’t really able to translate the rest after 4:05, but it doesn’t seem like the Bikesharing Company wants to open up its data to developers.

Smart cities and open data cities is a relatively new concept; this sort of concept is dependent on whether Chinese local governments are open to being transparent with this sort of data.

There is a big market in using data and finding ways to visualize data to solve simple problems such as trying to get to work on time; you need the right information to do that.

I think if Chinese cities want to promote sustainability, it has to develop some level of trust with developers and people; meaning, if you want to make it easier for others to use bikes, create the infrastructure, the services that help encourage it. By hiding its data, it only creates an environment of distrust, and mystery; you are essentially barring out a larger market, demographic that could have benefited from bike-sharing, but don’t know how.  Data, transparency creates dialogue, momentum to solve problems.

Original title: 杭州公共自行车信息开发之争[九点半]
Source of video: Zhejiang TV


From: http://chinapersonified.com/finding-your-fashion/?lang=zh