Located off the northeastern coast of East China's Zhejiang province, the Zhoushan Archipelago is the largest of its kind in China.
The area boasts stunning landscapes and a temperate climate. With fishing as the major industry, people used to lead a simple life here. As time changed, however, tourism began to boom during the industrial transformation.
Due to a lack of resources to sustain a tourism industry, some small islands are losing their residents.
Chen Mo, a professor in the School of Humanities of Zhejiang Ocean University, calls them "the lost islands": "With the decline of fishing and the rise of urbanization, many fishermen have quit fishing and moved to larger islands with better living conditions, only to leave elderly people and dilapidated houses behind."
Chen Mo, a professor in the School of Humanities of Zhejiang Ocean University. [Photo/CGTN]
Chen wanted to make a change and save the culture of fishing, as well as raise locals' income.
In 2014, she set up the "Workshop for Art" with a group of students who were also fond of art and humanities.
They came to the isolated Xuanshan Island. Matiaotou village would be the pilot point for their remodeling program called "House for Island Homestay".
Chen's plan was different from the stereotyped commercialization.
Zhoushan Archipelago, northeastern coast of Zhejiang Province. [Photo/CGTN]
"What we do is restore the island's culture and the original appearances of old houses. Driftwood or boards from old ships, anything can be used. We want to show that things are different here from the outside world."
It's a zero-cost ecological transformation. Common things like pebbles and old tires can be redesigned and reused. These things preserve the characteristics of the villages, while carrying the hope for a better future.
Even without the impact of modern industries, time is always eroding and weathering this lonely island.
"What I want to do is to save them before they are taken by time," Chen says.
Young volunteers. [Photo/CGTN]
There first project was a hostel transformed from a deserted health station.
Experimental projects like galleries and libraries were conducted one after another.
Young people are attracted to this island and the income of the local elderly population has increased 30-fold.
The crew of the program has so far carried out the investigation and design of ecological restoration for many homestays, rejuvenating the islands on the verge of desolation.
The charity program has also won several provincial awards.
"Only by the people who actually live here, can the culture be carried on," says Chen Mo.(Source:Chinadaily.com.cn)