Taiwan INGO Center entered Guangfu Village, Wufeng in 2017. On May 2018, “Wufeng Studies – Learning from Wufeng” entered No. 30, Xinyi Rd., Guangfu Village in the name of International NGO Research Center, Asia University. From the planned idea of creating a garden city in the early 20th century to the introduction of transition town development trend of the 21st century for Guangfu Village, the practice of Transition Town Wufeng has become the development and vision of Wufeng Studies courses. From Wufeng Studies to the International NGO Research Center of Asia University (hereinafter referred to as the “INGO Center”), it has focused on the development of sustainable development, social welfare medical service, medical service and public health, international exchange, training international MICE talents, and planning strategic alliances with INGO. The goals and features of INGO Center is identical to Taiwan INGO’s goals and social responsibility of “Letting the world enter Taiwan”, expanding Taiwan’s diplomatic space, and becoming the sharing platform for domestic and overseas NGO talent exchange and management.
From the actions and practices of INGO Center on sustainable development for the past year, we have realized that when facing global climate change, creating an ecological community is one of the ways to solve this main issue of our generation. For a long period of time, Wufeng Studies has done hard work based on its core values of helping humankind and land as well as its theories of garden city and transition town. Using those ideals and ideas, Wufeng Studies has carried out various grass-root community projects and making low carbon emissions the goal of sustainable life. From courses and various events, it has established its connection between humankind and the land. With the spirit of detailed work, it has held creative, craft, laborious, explorative and recreational events in order to help participants gain knowledge of the environment and land they live on and further discover the hidden cultural gem of Wufeng. With all of Wufeng Studies’s accomplishments, what effect does it have on community sustainability when facing global climate change? Can we evaluate the possibilities of these actions on building sustainable community? In order to do so, we have selected Community Sustainability Assessment (CSA) from Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) from various assessment forms to examine our practices.
GEN believes that life with sustainable development can only be maintained through land restoration and ways the gives more to the environment more than taking away from it. Therefore, GEN has developed a concrete and plausible evaluation tool on community sustainability, including indicators for reviewing our own sustainable life. It enabled users to evaluate the sustainability of their actions through the three aspects of ecology & environment, social economy and spirit & culture.
In regards to ecology and environment, sustainable eco-community has enabled us to experience the connection between individuals and the vigorous land. Humankind has enjoyed interaction with soil, water, wind, plants and animals in their daily life. They not only stay self-sufficient (on foods, clothes and accommodation) and respect natural cycles. Indicators that belong to this category include local awareness, food supply, production and distribution, infrastructure, construction and transportation, consumer pattern and solid wastes, water sources, water quality and how they were used, sewage and water pollution processing, and energy usage.
Regarding social and spiritual aspect, a sustainable eco-community means residents of the community feel aided and supported by those around them, while bearing the same responsibility to those around them. Eco-community provides a deep group sense of belonging. An eco-community can be small enough that everyone feels safe, empowered, as well as seen and heard. People then can take part in decisions that affect their life and community based on transparency. Indicators of this aspect include honesty, trust and safety, public space, communication (the flow of ideas and information), internet expansion and service, social sustainability, education, health care, and sustainable economy (sound and robust local economy).
Regarding cultural and spiritual aspect, most eco-communities do not emphasize spiritual practices. Instead, they respect and support the Earth, all forms of life, cultural and art performances, and spiritual diversity and differences in their own way. Indicators of this aspect include cultural sustainability, art and recreation, spiritual and soul sustainability, community consolidation, recovery capacity after the community faces impacts, comprehensive cycling worldview, and peace and global awareness.
We use the Community Sustainability Assessment form to evaluate the participation of Wufeng Studies and INGO Center members, calculate all the indicators their score of all members on all aspects, sum up all of the members’ scores on the 3 aspects, and calculate the final average score of the members. Through this assessment form, we can discover individual scores and total average scores.
After getting the total score and the total average score, group members discussed the meaning of these scores and the current progress of INGO Center to provide the direction for future actions. In regards to aspect and ecology & environment, “water source, water quality and how they were used” gained the highest score, while “sewage and water pollution processing” gained the lowest score, indicating that we care about visible water quality issues but still have a great deal to work on regarding invisible sewage water the water pollution processing. Regarding social and spiritual aspect, “health care” gained the highest score, while “social sustainability” received the lowest, indicating that we are familiar and will discuss health care issues but still need to pay more attention and take more actions with social sustainability. Regarding cultural and spiritual aspect, “cultural sustainability” gained the highest score, while “art and recreation” was the lowest. The former indicated the deep cultural context of Wufeng that deeply influenced those working on it, while there is still much room to work on regarding art and recreation. Personal scores indicated the depth and broadness of that participation in various community events: they will gain higher scores if they have higher community participation.
As for the total score of all 3 aspects, spirit and culture had the highest score, followed by social economy and ecology & environment. This result fits our acknowledgement. This research provides a clear direction that enables us to use the concept of creating an ideal living environment using the micro-system, intermediate system, external system and holistic system of ecological social work. Such inside-out actions are like ripples that expand to external fields. Combing the garden city concept of INGO Center and transitional town actions, we will gradually examine each issue to create a common, ideal living environment to fulfill the goal of sustainable development.