People first: Zhang Junping sets an example for mobilization and organization
Over 70 Shanghai delegates will travel to Beijing to attend the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which opens on October 16. Before departure, they talked about what they expect to deliver to congress, which will set the tune of the Party's work and guide the country's journey over the next five years.
Zhang Junping has earned her nickname the "Alley Prime Minister" in Kangcheng compound, given to her by the 36,000 residents of the super large residential community in Minhang District.
She began as a social worker in the compound located in March 2012, and now works as deputy director of the community committee.
In October, Zhang will attend the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Beijing, as a member representing the grass-roots community.
"Over the past decade, as Kangcheng evolved into a better neighborhood, I grew alongside it gaining considerable experience," said the 45-year-old "Alley Prime Minister."
Kangcheng, a residential compound in Xinzhuang Town, was built in the late 1990s. It is a huge neighborhood like a mini town with 286 buildings, four sub-neighborhood committees, three schools, one wet market, three supermarkets, one seniors' home, a community health center, and two bus lines.
The community used to be plagued with a series of burglaries and thefts.
In 2015, the neighborhood had a total of 185 burglar cases, with an average occurrence of two cases per day.
"People were upset. One household was newly-weds, and its cash gifts and the bride's jewelry were all taken during a break-in," Zhang recalled.
"The residents used to refrain from telling others that they lived in Kangcheng as it was a troubled neighborhood... When I was in, many people persuaded me not to have a high expectation and they said I would accomplish nothing as a social worker," Zhang said.
But Zhang was not daunted.
For better homes
The first task Zhang and her fellow workers accomplished was improving the community's governance, setting up its 3rd owners committee between 2015 and 2016. It took them 16 months to win back the trust of its residents. The organization set up rules and a clear system of reception, conference and information disclosure.
In March 2017, a 22-million-yuan (US$3 million) maintenance fund was approved for use by the owners to improve the neighborhood's infrastructure, especially its computer monitoring system.
More than 2,400 high-definition surveillance cameras were installed and the smart door control system was restored.
In 2017, the annual burglary cases in Kangcheng was reduced to 15.
"A hit-and-run traffic accident occurred on nearby Xinsong Road. Police informed us that the suspect fled into the Kangcheng neighborhood. Using the monitoring system, and the joint efforts of the residents and police, we managed to apprehend the suspect," Zhang said.
"There was a restored confidence in the Kangcheng community.
Then we further repaired its roads, installed landscape lighting around its 'Arch of Triumph' entrance and refurbished an old pond. Every weekend in the evenings, the musical fountain is illuminated for two hours and has become a new celebrated spot for photos in the neighborhood", Zhang said.
Young owners from out of town now account for 51 percent of the entire owners group in Kangcheng.
"We encourage young people to participate in community governance," Zhang said.
The neighborhood embraced the trash sorting campaign in 2019. But some residents complained that sanitation workers should be responsible for the task.
To provide some perspective and address misunderstandings, Zhang sought help from a young film director who lived in Kangcheng.
"The young man studied a sanitation worker, how she lived and worked, then filmed a short documentary about her."
"In October 2019 a 19-minute short documentary film about a day in the life of a sanitation worker in Kangcheng was released. The film was powerful in its narration, and all of the residents in the community agreed these workers worked a tough job, for little money", Zhang said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit China in 2020, residents of Kangcheng volunteered to form a service team. They delivered 30,000 packages of mail door-to-door to people's homes daily, purchased goods and ran errands for seniors.
To solve face mask shortages, residents donated their own quota, a total of 9,800 face masks, to the service team members and the property management personnel who were safeguarding the neighborhood during that time.
"Kangcheng reported zero infection cases in 2020", Zhang said.
By the end of 2020, a community public venue was set up in Kangcheng to better serve its people, where residents were able to make appeals, negotiate public affairs, and drink coffee from Baoshan in Yunnan Province, an assisted city of Minhang District, at a cafe bar in the compound.
"The community is everybody's home. We welcome those who have insight and abilities to join in its governance", said Zhang.
The pandemic ordeal
From its somewhat chaotic past decade, Kangcheng morphed into a well-organized neighborhood. Building on its preparation from the 2020 outbreak, the community was well prepared when the resurgence of the pandemic hit Shanghai early this year.
"A bird's-eye view photo featuring a neighborhood nucleic acid test on a school playground in Kangcheng on March 16 went viral online. People were amazed at how well things were able to be organized, in such a huge neighborhood like Kangcheng," said Zhang.
The neighborhood committee was notified of the closed-loop nucleic acid test on March 15. But where would they find enough people to facilitate the tests, and where would it take place?
"We contacted the head master of the Kangcheng Experimental School. Since the kids were at home, we were allowed to use its playground for special occasions like this."
There are three schools in the neighborhood. The schools' PTA group shared the parents' contact information with us. A lot of parents wanted to set a good example for their children, so within two hours we enrolled more than 600 volunteers."
"We made the plans for the next-day tests overnight, discussing traffic patterns and space allocation," said Zhang.
The test went smoothly the next day. The workforce was divided into 12 teams, including the coordination team, the PDA team, the media team that took photos and videos on site and sent them to residents, the human resource team, the logistics team and the medical care team. Forty walkie-talkies were used to ensure smooth communication.
"Some of the young parents took shifts every four hours. Some, were eager to work full shifts from 6:30am to 11pm."
"When I saw them standing on the playground, like strong pillars, protect their home, I felt deeply touched."
"There were altogether six rounds of tests that lasted for seven days," said Zhang.
Zhang is among the 73 Party representatives from Shanghai who will attend the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in Beijing on October 16. She is looking forward to learning more about super neighborhood management from the conference.
"I am like a co-partner with the residents, and together we manage the community well, and create a better home."
"I feel grateful for the residents who voiced their concerns when I first arrived. Without their encouragement, I wouldn't be who I am now," said Zhang.