Our beloved town: read all about it

Meilong Town published a book about private hobby collections that include everything from matches to badges. It's part of the series that chronicles the life of the town. 

Meilong Town has published the 13th in a series of books chronicling the life, culture and people of the town. It draws heavily on personal accounts written by residents.

The latest edition is about private hobby collections that include everything from matches to badges.

“They are the most borrowed books in the library,” Zhu Liyan, director of the Meilong Town Library, said of the series.

The first two books in the series collected stories from communities and residents, including the mundane problems of daily life, such as residents not paying their property management fees or neighbors who habitually left smelly shoes in apartment hallways.

One reader from Suzhou of Shanghai’s neighboring Jiangsu Province praised the details of the books, which she said brought to the lives of Meilong people to life in an authentic way.

“Economy is the lifeblood of regional development, but culture is the soul,” said Yang Jianhua, Party secretary of Meilong. “Without culture, the town would be lifeless.”

The project’s editorial board is comprised of officials from departments such as publicity, culture and sports. The board sought advice and help from the Shanghai People’s Publishing House in bringing the series to bookshelves.

“I worked for a magazine before retirement,” said Liu Xingpei, one of the editors. “But this project is very different because all the articles come from residents, who aren’t professional writers. They needed quite a bit of polishing, but it was all well worth it.”

Some of the contributors were quite distinguished. Jiang Xingyu, an expert in opera history who won an award from the Chinese Theater Association, accepted an invitation from Yang to write the first book, which was reprinted twice.

Other famous writers include Zhang Bingsheng, former deputy editor-in-chief of the Jiangxi Daily. He said the town is indeed a place of cultural convergence.

Zhang has volunteered to hold weekly classes in his housing estate to explain the meaning and beauty of traditional poems and ballads.

 “I find that elderly women in Meilong love to dance, while the men prefer to chat or read,” said Liu. “We often hold community talks on different topics to keep their minds sharp.”

 The number of book clubs in the town’s 60 communities is growing, encouraged by the government.

“The development of culture in communities is reaching a new high,” said Jia Shumei, president of the Shanghai Journalists’ Association. “The traditional way of holding cultural events was to host a dancing competition, but the Meilong Town has moved beyond that phase to a deeper level. I believe the cultural progress in Meilong sets a good example for Shanghai and even the whole nation.”

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