On our first day in rural Bishan village in China’s Anhui province, Yao Lilan, a 67-year-old retired schoolteacher showed us around the village. Yao is one of most enthusiastic local advocates of the Bishan Project, an experimental development initiative working to sustain Bishan village. Deeply interested in the area’s history, he shared with us a map he drew of the village. He showed us Bishan’s numerous vacant houses, left by villagers who, like millions of other Chinese, were drawn to urban areas in search of economic opportunities.
The Bishan Project is working to create economic incentives to stay. Yao took us to see the traditional way of raising silkworms, a source of income in the area, and the construction site of the Bishan Bookstore in an old ancestral hall, scheduled to open in fall 2013.
Stay tuned for more about the Bishan Project and rural China.
— from Pulitzer Center grantees Leah Thompson and Sun Yunfan. Images by Leah Thompson. China, 2013. Thompson and Sun are in the field in China.