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.

However,

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?

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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


http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMzkxMzIyMjcy.html

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
http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMzkxMzIyMjcy.html

找到你的时尚

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

时尚”对我这样一个小女孩还说一点意义都没有。我还记得曾经有一套极其丑陋的衣服,是森林绿的运动衫和运动裤,上面印着美少女战士的图案。长大后,我有了一件泡泡袖的丝绒裙,在晚宴时偶尔穿穿,但其他时候,我的那些衣服比我的姐妹们逊色很多。事实上,每次她们决定整理衣橱、挑出不穿的衣服给我时,我都非常惊喜,因为无论她们给我什么衣服,看上去都比我早就过时的那些衣服好看很多。

但后来我不再因为这个觉得困扰了。我父母都是工作很勤奋的移民,他们要支付房贷、维持生计,因此穿衣打扮也就显得不那么重要了。而且,我是个书虫,整天沉浸在每周一本的新书中。但总有那么几次,有些言语会刺伤我脆弱的心灵,就譬如一个高傲自大的高中女生见到我疑惑地问道,“你每天都穿这件夹克吗?”这真的是哪壶不开提哪壶。
在高中的时候,我的衣柜开始革新,不过肯定远不如现在。我和安妮成为了好朋友,她为我打开了购物之门。她是位歌唱家,她的风格也是如此。悲哀的是,我的风格与品味和她截然不同。我开始独自逛街,也就是从这个时候开始,我的风格逐渐形成。
在初中的时候我突然长高,当时我成了一个又高又瘦的亚洲女孩。曾几何时,我是多么渴望自己也可以很可爱、很讨人喜欢,但这个梦想无法成真,至少我的身高就不可爱。但渐渐地我意识到了自己的长相。也许我不能变得可爱,但是我可以很高雅。现在看来,了解自己的风格对我了解自己有很大的帮助。我不再穿粉色的蕾丝边、低胸的毛衣、或大口袋的T恤。转而,我开始穿长大衣、拖地长袍。我那些矮个子的、可爱的朋友完全没法穿这些衣服。我开始爱上自己身材独有的款式。我的时装是让我全身舒适的一个标志。
当我说“时尚”的时候,我并不是指自己沉迷于我所见到的每一本杂志,也不是说我拼命追赶时尚的潮流。我不是想要表明我们应该涂炫彩的唇膏或者把我们的头发搞得很花哨。我个人认为时尚是帮助你认识自我、改变自我的意识。并且,这是一个很长的、持续的过程。我有一个挚友,我们一起购物、有相似的品味、相近的价值观。她和我一样快乐,不会让我觉得购物是我一个人的独角戏;在我寻觅到一直想要的鞋子或衣服时,她为我感到高兴。
我愿意为我的朋友出谋划策。我已经为一位朋友挑选了一款炫亮唇彩,为另一位朋友挑选了完美的红色唇膏。有一次,我将一位朋友从穿帽衫有游戏人物形象转变为惊世骇俗的美女形象,当然这还是在她所能接受的范围之内的造型转变。服装并不是让我们变成其他人,我们挑选服装是为了展示自己。