Ten years, the forest and the trees?


On a Sunday in late March, mynas gathered in small groups around the fields as usual. They strode along crop rows and foraged for food, paying no attention to the farmer who had squatted down to weed quietly just a few metres away. Another old farmer, who had ploughed the field with his cow, was getting his longtime companion to return to the barn. Plodding along the way, they passed by the rows of snow peas that had climbed the trellis. Their leaves had begun to yellow. It was time to bid farewell to early spring.


To the casual observer, this land has not changed much over the past few years, as it retains its lush foliage. The wilderness has been gently cultivated and turned into a rough-hewn farmland. The most noticeable traces are of manmade changes. The farm hut has been relocated and renovated. The gasoline pump, water pump and sprinkler hoses are new additions from the past two years. The squash and bean sheds are more solidly built, but they are still a work in progress…


Perhaps we, a group of young people who moved here ten years ago, have yet to become more alert. We think we are keeping pace with the crops. Yet it is only when we immerse ourself in the fields that we realise how quickly they change: the greenery thrives in different shades; crops grow through the cycles and the seasons; seeds of squashes and beans shoot through the soil, without heralds. Are they indifferent, or are they reminding you of missed moments? Let’s nurture the sprouts, and build the sheds before they begin to sprawl.

Founded in March 2010 as an offshoot of the “Anti-XRL Movement and Protect Choi Yuen Village”, Sangwoodgoon is an experimental collective that explores and practices new values of everyday living. We have quietly embraced our community for ten years, while bearing witness to historic moments of social unrest throughout the decade. After all, this ten-year story has not been a stellar success; rather, it may be a mark of failure. Yet what we have done is to cultivate a small tree in a forest that takes a decade to flourish. We did not have any anniversary celebrations, but only clinked glasses to commemorate the occasion. As Allan G. Johnson writes in The Forest and the Trees: “[We] are always participating in social life in a world that is a little larger than ourselves.”

We are insignificant, but we see each other.


Lo Lai Lai Natalie
10 April 2020