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Treasure Hill

Treasure Hill Residents
Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou attended the “Taipei Treasure Hill” press conference on October 26. The event updated the public on the efforts of Taipei City Government in attempting to preserve the original settlement of the community. Treasure Hill, a derelict squatter community on the edge of Taipei that came into being when first settled by soldiers from China in the 1950s, has recently been rescued and reinvigorated by the city government in conjunction with local arts groups and numerous international artists. In recognizing its historical significances, Mayor Ma deliberated in the press conference that Taipei City Government has taken the initiatives aimed at preserving and revitalizing the 60-year old squatter community into an urban laboratory of testing different solutions of sustainable urban life such as inviting international artists to collaborate with local organic farmers, hosting outdoor movie nights, art lectures, and exhibitions to facilitate creative and artistic involvements in the community. . Perceived by the public as an embarrassment to a city bent on modernizing, the then piece-meal buildings in Treasure Hill faced a destiny of being rezoned as a park in 1980. The decision caused numerous conflicts and controversies on issues such as demolishing, resettling, or preserving the area. A series of social activism arose thereafter. The situation, however, changed when Mayor Ma took office 8 years ago. In 2004, the Taipei Historical Buildings Review Committee approved the registration of Treasure Hill as the first historical settlement under the administration of the Department of Culture Affairs (DOCA). With the policy of preservation and revitalization, DOCA has legitimized the squatters’ residency on the public land and created a commune that will incorporate the original residential units as alternative housing, an international youth hostel, and an artist-in-residence program. Sebastian Liao, Commissioner of DOCA, reiterated that DOCA’s primary goal is for the area to be viewed as a “community, art, ecology” oriented organic district. Recognizing Treasure Hill’s triumph in community preservation, resident resettlement, and ecological communal living, Ma noted that the New York Times has claimed the location a must-see for the foreign visitors other than the Taipei 101. While most of the squatter villages in the old days have been rezoned into parks or replaced with modern buildings, Treasure Hill remains both as a reminder of the past and a hub that cultivates talents of tomorrow.