On the publication of a collection of beautiful village stories
Date: February 21, 2013
Dear Seoul citizens, I am Park Won Soon, the mayor of Seoul. Although I cannot greet you face to face, we are all neighbors living in one big community called Seoul. It’s pleasure to meet you.
When are you happiest? I guess that it is probably when you are with the people you love. It is in our relationships that we find the true meaning of our lives.
The Village Community Project of the Seoul Metropolitan Government was born from this belief. In our lives, it is our neighbors that we meet most often. And by restoring relationships with our neighbors, even to a small extent, we can develop common interests and identify common problems. The only way to find true satisfaction, security, and happiness is in a community where solidarity generates common interest and problems are solved by applying collective intelligence.
A community is a “cosmos” of relationships. So, our village community project consists of ideas that support relationships, and our mission is to prepare a community gathering place where residents can meet and discuss various issues, and to support the various activities that take place in these community gathering places. A village community can do many things—explore good foods, raise our children together, publish bulletins or make broadcasts to share community news, and hold village festivals that all ages can enjoy together. In such a community, love for one’s neighbors and the security of the neighborhood come naturally.
One year has passed since the Seoul Metropolitan Government launched the Neighborhood Community Project, and we have pursued the initiative slowly rather than quickly—together rather than alone—and have focused on achieving mutual benefit rather than competition, and “life” rather than business. Therefore, we cannot say that the project has achieved a lot in the past year. Any progress we do make will be slow and gradual.
Instead, I would like to tell you that, during the last year, the seeds that were sown through the Village Community Project broke through the asphalt and cement of the city and fresh, green sprouts have begun to shoot up. You can find those sprouts right here in this book.
Each of the stories in this book tells us about how residents have greeted their neighbors, extended their hands, and talked together, enjoying the happiness they found together and realizing a better tomorrow. It also includes the stories of small projects that achieved great success and young initiatives that regrettably failed.
This book contains a wide variety of stories. They include the stories of residents who held community festivals and flea markets, and who prepared kimchi and shared food together. Some apartment building residents organized a choir of residents, and some people built community libraries and schools for all the children of the neighborhood. Some started with collaborative childcare projects or hosted community cafés where residents shared their talents and artistic skills. Also, by using discarded waste materials to create a village garden, some people discovered the power and affection contained in the word “community”. Creative young people are also making village communities in their own way, using their own ideas, by identifying and addressing the needs of one-person households. There are over 40 success stories of village communities in Seoul.
Some argue that creating village communities is difficult. Others doubt that it is possible at all. But communities are already being built by citizens, and the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Village Community Project is helping these burgeoning areas grow into a “forest” of communities by providing better soil, sunlight, and fertilizer.
I would like to greet and express my thanks to everyone in the many communities that are featured in this book. As you take your first step on a difficult road, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will be with you, ensuring that you are able to continue on. I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to those who have long worked to restore neighborhood communities in Seoul. Without your dedication, the achievements we are making now would not have been possible.
Dear Seoul citizens, I am very glad to talk about communities with you, and even more pleased that we are finally building a city of elegance and happiness where we all take care of each other.