Passing through North Point

– Design and Community Guide Training Workshop

North Point, enriched with an urban history and its unique characteristics, is an ageing district facing rapid transformation. The application for a forced auction of the Royal Capitol Theatre took place in 2018, and was finally approved at the time when our workshop began, implicating the emergence of one after another redevelopment projects, and the imminent demolition of the area surrounding the old theatre. In light of this period where traditions and redevelopment meet, the workshop aimed to engage the public to observe and experience this changing community.

Organised in cooperation with the Hong Kong Arts Centre as a part of the “Passing through North Point” project, “Making Big Steps for the Community” was a community guide training workshop. The project aimed to broaden the participants’ imagination about the public space in North Point. Through a series of programs that integrate the elements of community, creativity and art, participants were encouraged to envision the potentials of their community, and to discover its connections with the people and things around them. It also served to raise awareness about civic rights and responsibilities and to foster voluntary engagement in the community. The team provided training for neighbours and community enthusiasts to become new community guides, hoping to connect old and new residents, to inspire people and to find out what they envisage North Point to become.

Creative elements, for the first time, have been added to the training of community guides: In addition to teaching the basic concepts and skills in guiding tours, creativity is required in community exploration and routes design, to inspire novel perspectives when drafting new tours. A variety of methods was used to encourage participants’ autonomous and creative exploration: Given cards about community attractions, participants are invited to jointly design a route according to their chosen theme. Less-known information which could be hard to found on the internet is encouraged to be added as additional information to the cards. Sometimes, participants even sketch their remarkable moments on papers in order to turn them into the tour’s content. In addition to designing information cards and sketching, participants also kept a “Community Observation Journal”, to keep track of their learning while staying curious and enthusiastic.

Three of the six training workshops were conducted in the community, allowing participants to have on-site exploration, to design guided tours and to try out the routes. In the end, four jointly-designed guided tours will be created by participants in two rounds. With the first round surrounding the themes “City and Architecture”, “Art and Culture” and “Community Treasures”; and the second round’s themes being “Architecture”, “Craftsmanship” , “Entertainment” and “the Quest of Life”, eight unique and thought-provoking journeys were created as learning outcomes.

Based on the given community attraction cards, participants discuss and design the routes according to their own interests and ideas.

Each group discusses and sketches what an ideal tour guide shall look like.

Participants are drawing their own community attraction cards, including their impressions of the place and keywords they have associated the district with.  

A participant draws a community attraction card.

In the process, it is necessary to consider everything related to the community that are of both tangible and intangible values. Sometimes, great ideas hide behind the relations and commonalities between two attractions.

Group learning and guiding practices allow participants to learn from one another and grow together. A stronger sense of belonging and pride in representing their neighbour also develop through a deeper understanding of their community.

Taking the community as a learning place, these students developed a better understanding of Sha Tin, and established connections between the community’s characteristics and history.  Through a range of diverse activities, students acquired values and skills through teamwork, which included reflecting on topics from multiple perspectives. We witnessed the growth among them in terms of their social awareness and emotional intelligence through this constant process of learning and reflection. For example, while being shocked by realising how youth facilities have been neglected and underdeveloped in town planning, they believe that individuals’ efforts can bring changes to the society.  Feeling moved by relevant social topics, they started formulating possible plans for changes. These activities planted seeds in these young hearts to become a force for good in society, aspiring to engage themselves in community and public affairs with creativity and enthusiasm.