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Revitalizing Torch Village: A Model for Rural Transformation and Governance

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Coordinated with rural governance, the old villages in the north of Yangshan are listed on the list of provincial characteristic rural villages.

Planners go to the countryside to rejuvenate Torch Village

An old village located in a remote area, after the resident planner “turned a stone into gold”, the village committee led the villagers to work together to transform it, and it became the “burst point” that triggered the whole village’s butterfly change. On July 17, the list of the eleventh batch of characteristic pastoral villages in Jiangsu Province was released, and the old ancient pool and the small old ancient pool in Huoju Village, Yangshan Town, Huishan District were on the list. It was the “peach season”, and the reporter walked into the completely new village. The village committee was discussing the coordinated promotion mechanism of rural governance with more than 10 villager representatives. The team of village planners was also discussing together to plan the implementation of the rural industry upgrading plan. “Scientific planning has made the village look new, and it has also opened the prelude to industrial transformation and agglomeration.” Zheng Bin, secretary of the village party branch, said.

Hope of the villagers

Re-exhibiting the livable and business-like features of Jiangnan water towns

Torch Village is located at the north gate of Yangshan Town, with Anyang Mountain in the south. It is a typical representative of the original ecological village in the south of the Yangtze River. The 3,800-mu peach orchard is the main industry of more than 3,500 villagers. “The villagers live scattered in 19 natural villages, and the Jiangnan water town with dense river networks lacks reasonable planning.” Zheng Bin said that the two natural villages of Laogutan and Xiaolaogutan are the core of Torch Village.

Let the homeland become beautiful, and the villagers join forces. “The collective economy at the village level is not rich, but as long as you dare to do it, you can break through and develop.” The village committee held a village representative meeting, and everyone unanimously decided to start along Yangyang Road. Yangyang Road runs through Huoju Village for 1.5 kilometers, along which there are major villages such as Laogutan, Xiaolaogutan, and Xixu, as well as 3.5 kilometers of branch roads. The village invested more than 33 million yuan to carry out a comprehensive “facelift” from July last year to April this year. Xi Keren, a veteran party member in his 70s, led more than 10 villager representatives, and went to the door one by one to coordinate the demolition of illegal shacks by the farmers. Villager Xi Jianxing is the leader of the village team. Without saying a word, he took the lead in demolishing the building next to his peach field. After the illegal construction of more than 5,000 square meters of color steel plates was quickly demolished, the village repaired roads and rivers without stopping.

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“The improvement of the environment and the unobstructed roads have suddenly opened up the skeleton of the re-planned layout of Torch Village.” Zheng Bin said as he walked in the village. There used to be a messy chicken shed on the side of the road, which was demolished and built into a pavilion for villagers. A newly built “small garden” is actually a rural domestic sewage treatment point. The environment in front of and behind the villagers’ houses has changed drastically, and the appearance of the village has reached a new high.

Planning support

Anchor the new blueprint and build a rural intensive model

Environmental improvement is in place, and the planning goal of “Future Village” is to use land intensively and build a characteristic pastoral village. “Planners went to the countryside and entered the village, bringing new ideas to the village.” Zheng Bin said that professional planners from the city have become “focus figures” in the village and often hold “planning meetings” with villagers. “The brand-new plan shows the future blueprint of Torch Village. The old ancient pool at the core of the village has been preliminarily transformed into a Taoyuan home. By vacating enterprises in surrounding villages, transferring farm houses and promoting intensive construction, compared with the current land use, it will save more than 15% of land resources and become a model for the city’s rural planning and construction.” Program leader and senior planner Program said.

When the reporter came to the Municipal Planning and Design Institute, the projection showed a set of drawings of “Village Planning for Torch Village, Yangshan Town, Huishan District, Wuxi City (2022-2035)”, which detailed the future blueprint of Torch Village. “For the first time to do a multi-plan practical village planning, the most energy-intensive thing is the field survey.” Program said. Since July 2021, as one of the first 10 participants in the province’s “‘Co-painting Suzhou Township’ planners going to the countryside”, he has set up a workstation in Torch Village. Together with the other 7 members of the project team, he often eats and lives in the fields of the village, surveys, collects land, industry and other related data, and conducts household surveys. After more than a year of preliminary work, they traveled all over the roads and fields of 4.39 square kilometers in Torch Village.

The new planning is combined with the new industrial clusters. Walking in the village following the procedure, ripe peaches are hanging all over the branches. “Old ancient pools and small old ancient pools retain their original natural features, highlight the characteristics of water towns and human settlements, and create pastoral ecological scenery belts that are suitable for living, business, and tourism.” The program pointed to the renewed demonstration area and said that the theme of “pastoral pastoral, dream of Taoyuan” was agreed by the planning team and villagers. Through the collision of rural characteristics and modern garden art, a characteristic pastoral village integrating “production, life, and ecology” will be created. The water system in the southwestern part of the village is connected to the National Geographic camp under construction in Yangshan Tourist Resort, and supporting cultural and tourism projects such as characteristic homestays will be built. In the northern part of the village, a new industrial cluster focusing on the service industry will be built through the evacuation of enterprises.

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Wake up nostalgia

Build a new future together, villagers strive to be “big stewards”

Not long ago, Xi Yufeng, a villager who has been engaged in foreign trade and other industries for a long time, came back. Together with some like-minded villagers, he planned to develop agriculture, culture and tourism industries to boost rural revitalization. There are already new projects under negotiation.

The creation of rural villages with provincial characteristics has aroused the enthusiasm of many villagers for joint construction and sharing. There is a characteristic brick-walled country house in the village. The original site was a dilapidated house. After the village was demolished, the original old bricks and stones were used to rebuild. The Laogutan Rural Revitalization Pavilion was recently built as a post station for villagers and a rural living room, highlighting farming culture and modern culture. When they heard that a museum was going to be built, some villagers took out the real objects they had kept at home and participated in the construction of the Hongqi Canal. The cobblestones and tiles that were “turned waste into treasure” in the demolition of old houses have become the materials for the construction of the “Happy Vegetable Garden” and the Rural Revitalization Pavilion in front of and behind the houses in the village. Many villagers took the initiative to serve as rural cultural counselors in the museum, telling local stories to visitors and promoting civilized rural customs.

From “big butler” to “everyone in charge”. “The long-term management of Meicun Meiju is the top priority after the plan is implemented.” The person in charge of the village committee said that through the agreement of the villagers’ congress, the whole village will create a name card of rural self-government, and party members will take the lead to lead the villagers to participate in the creation of “beautiful courtyard”. The villagers do not have a single household, and actively participate in the construction of supporting facilities such as village leisure squares and healthy trails. “The sense of happiness in the village’s human settlements is constantly being created and increased through villagers’ self-government.” (Qiu Peixing)

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