In a few weeks I’ll be traveling to China. It’s the second time I’m traveling there. While I enjoy flying small planes and generally like to fly, flying commercially isn’t something I look forward to anymore. But in this case, the purpose of my trip is so worth the stress. You see, our local CSR team in China has designed an ambitious plan that heads off a nascent but growing social problem resulting from the economic boom we’ve all been hearing about….The problem is that major Chinese cities are facing equally major land shortages. Rapid urbanization is transforming the Chinese landscape. With China’s growing prosperity, more people are moving from Eastern China to coastal cities, seeking jobs, excitement and a share of China’s prosperous future, which apparently includes the opportunity to fleece unwary western tourists through teahouse scams.” Right, another story. Anyway, those people moving to the cities – yes, even the scammers – need housing, but there’s not enough. To build new housing the government needs land. So, the urban centers are expanding. As they do, agricultural land becomes housing and farmers get displaced, leaving them with no livelihood. In the Chengdu area, home for one of Intel’s Assembly Test plants, more than 30,000 farmers were displaced to make way for urbanization plans in the last few years. And while the government has been successful reemploying the majority of them, more than 4,000 farmers this year find themselves sitting idle in high-rise apartments, with nothing to do for the first time in their lives. This is where my CSR colleagues in China come in. Lead by Henry Gui, our community relations manager, our Chengdu office is building a consensus of community stakeholders around an initiative that, if successful, will not only re-employ the displaced farmers, but provide educational opportunities for their families, develop a vibrant, IT-enabled community that supports them with culturally relevant education, business and community content, and create an environment ripe for intra-community dialogue. Of course, a lot of things have to go right for all this to happen. But so far so good. The government is interested in the plan and we’re getting the right community stakeholder interest. So, in December, Henry’s leading the first community gathering wherein stakeholders, government leaders and yours truly (Intel I mean) can participate in shaping the plan’s details. I’ll be going to do what I can to support Henry in this ambitious project, but rightfully, the limelight will be shining directly on him, for it is he who has been leading this project since its inception. I’ll write more prior to my departure and again upon my arrival. And this time, I promise to get some good pictures.
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