villages

China’s Villages Are Dying. A New Film Asks If They Can Be Saved

Ou Ning used to hate the countryside.

He had a comfortable life in Beijing where he worked as an artist. Yet in 2013, the 45-year-old packed his bags and traded his apartment for a centuries-old house in Bishan, a small village in China’s Huizhou region. He brought with him his mother, younger brother, nephew, fiancé and her son.

Ou Ning is the subject of the documentary Down to the Countryside by filmmakers Leah Thompson and Sun Yunfan. The 12-minute film follows the artist-turned-activist as he tries to bring economic and cultural development to a village struggling to survive China’s rapid urbanization. He’s part of the emerging “back-to-the-land” movement in China.

The urban population in China has grownfaster than any other country. Today 54 percent of China’s population lives in cities, up from 42.5 percent in 2005. And villages are rapidly disappearing. In 2002, there were 3.6 million villages. In 2012, the number had dropped to 2.7 million, according to China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs. The government is happy about the trend: Urbanization has always been at the center of the country’s economic development agenda.

Citizens are reportedly happy too. For many, moving to cities — or having their children work and live in cities — is a sign of success. “We met some senior farmers — they’re very ashamed of the fact that they are still farming,” says Sun.

When Sun and Thompson walk you through Bishan in their film, young adults are noticeably missing. On screen, an elderly woman is all smiles as she counts off who’s moved to cities: “The children of that [villager] live in Wuhu city. This one, Beijing. The son of this one works in the military in Beijing.”

And when the children go home for theChinese New Year, they tell the filmmakers they don’t plan to return to the village for good. They complain of low salaries and a lack of opportunity to make use of their education.

Continue reading and watch the video.

Photo: Most of Bishan’s young adults have moved to big cities to find jobs, leaving elders and children behind in the quiet village. (Courtesy of Sun Yunfan)

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Almdorf Seinerzeit - Austria

Enjoying an exceptional location in Austria’s captivating Nockberge National Park, Almdorf Seinerzeit is an idyllic village hotel with charming wooden cabins, a cozy restaurant, and a delightful spa offering a choice of natural herbal treatments. Ranging from warm, comfortable huts and hunting lodges to authentic Alpine style chalets, all accommodation units are traditionally designed and feature fireplaces, wooden bathtubs, and private terraces. Another interesting feature is the hotel’s Wedding Lodge – a romantic treehouse with stunning bird’s-eye views of the surrounding natural park.

Website | TripAdvisor

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#EscapeWeek - Country Fictions by Juan Aballe

Juan Aballe took beautiful photos of the small, nearly deserted villages in the countryside of the Iberian peninsula; at some point, he even seriously considered moving…

Find out more > http://fotografiamagazine.com/country-fictions-juan-aballe/

Abandoned medieval Northamptonshire villages recognised as Ancient Monuments

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has designated a series of Northamptonshire medieval villages as Scheduled Ancient Monuments.

Being designated in this way will hopefully protect the sites from a number of threats, including future development; local resource extraction; vandalism, and even environmental damage.

Describing the sites as “wonderful examples of the hidden heritage that exists across the UK” Minister for Heritage, Ed Vaizey said the preservation order would “help us understand our past” and “allow us to uncover the secrets of medieval society going back centuries.” Read more.

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“Cheonghakdong Village, located at the southern foot of Samsanbong Peak on Jirisan Mountain, maintains the traditional style of daily Korean life. ‘Cheonghak’ means a community where a crane of blue feathers lives. 

Cheonghakdong is one area that was left virtually untouched throughout much of Korea’s turbulent history. 

It is an inland village where electricity came into the village only 20 years ago. Over 200 residents of this community maintain the custom of wearing hair in a knot, wearing Korean traditional clothing, and doing farm work in the traditional manner of living.”

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