A year ago, in January 2016, the Good Lab team was busy co-organising the Make a Difference Forum at Kwai Tsing theatre, which was in it’s 7th year. If you haven’t been, it is THE EVENT to be at (This year it’s in August). With young attendees from all over Asia, in all the events I have gone to around the world, this one definitely runs the highest in terms of energy, inspiration and is always a good recharge of my hopes for the young people of tomorrow.
Seeding hope for the future
In one of the sessions, JungHun Cho of Udongsa spoke on their cooperative housing model in Korea, where a group of young people pooled together their finances to buy a series of buildings for living and working in Seoul and the surrounding suburbs. This was in response to the desire to live communally and the unaffordability of houses in the city. An inspirational talk from a young thought leader, however, as I looked into the crowd, especially from the young Hong Kongers, I saw inspiration, but also hopelessness as it was clear on their faces, ‘what chance is there for this to happen in Hong Kong?’
Noting this in the room, I quickly asked any Hong Kongers interested in this to write down their contact details on a piece of paper, and with that, we got over 40 people interested! We started a small group of individuals which looked into this in the city. It was in this exploration that the group discovered that there were many people already looking into this issue and finding solutions, which are still in progress. 大桐共宅 Tai Tung Co-housing, which was established by a group who met at the GoodLab during 2015’s Social Lab, and are now currently finding a space to make communal living a possibility in Hong Kong. Of course, there is the successful LightBe as well, which last year opened up their Sham Tseng location, with 40 units of accommodation for low income families.
A headline topic for 2017
It seems like that this year, the topic will continue to be high on the agenda, as evidenced by the visit by political contenders to coffin cubicles to highlight the issue. It’s also good business, as recently, this ‘entrepreneur’ took advantage of this need to open up these space capsules. This really shows the importance of branding, as to me, they’re just a more sci-fi version of the coffin cubicles. Inspired by the shipping containers used as housing in the Amsterdam and London, one local non-profit is now looking into the feasibility of this as well in the city. At the Good Lab, sharing and co-creation continues to be high on our agenda. One of our directors has opened up a collaborative cafe and event space, in collaboration with local businesses and selling iCoops goods, which is a Korean farming cooperative where the goods are free from preservatives.
Playing our small part
The housing topic really interested us in 2016 and this year, we want to look at it more in depth. In the next couple months, we’ll look at the root causes of the housing issue, and what local people are doing as an answer to the challenge. We’ll explore what other countries are doing, in terms of grassroots action, institutional initiatives, and financing mechanisms as well, with the analysis of the potential of some of these ideas to happen in Hong Kong. Do look forward to this online report later in the year.
Do look out for this report later in the year, and until then, if you have any examples of co-housing and sharing that you would like us to know about, either locally or internationally, please drop me a note, would love to know more about it and add it to our report!
Kelvin @ Good Lab