"Through the formation of a mutual-help body, the progress made
by the communities will be seen and form an important part of
Taiwan's social movement experience," he said.
The foundation promoting community building was established in
February 1999, just seven months before the 7.3-magnitude earthquake
struck near mountainous Puli.
In the aftermath of the disaster, which destroyed over 40,000
homes around Taiwan, including more than 6,200 in Puli alone, the
foundation set up a "homeland reconstruction work station" to help
local residents rebuild their lost homes.
Among the local communities rebuilding themselves with the
foundation's assistance is Taomi, which has been transformed from an
old, non-descript town into an environmentally friendly village
Over the past several years, more than 40,000 tree seedlings have
been planted in the village, with three hectares of wetland conserved
and 25 household eco-ponds created. Also, two sewage treatment ponds
and food scrap recycling plants have been set up there.
There are now nearly 20 legal home stays and a total of 30 field
educators in Taomi, making it a popular site for outings by visitors
from other parts of the country.
Puli citizens went back to hometown after the big earthquake, only to see houses reduced to rubbles. （Sep 25, 1999 CNA）
With Taomi's experience becoming a model for community
rejuvenation, the relocation of the Paper Dome to the village in 2008
upgraded the underlying spirit of mutual help from a people-to-people
level to a country-to-country level.
"It is not just a special building. More importantly, it brings
together the dreams of numerous people," Liao said.
The rectangular-shaped structure built of 58 huge cardboard
columns was the creation of Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. It was
originally intended as a temporary church to replace a Catholic
church that was destroyed in the Kobe earthquake of Jan. 17, 1995.
New Homeland staffers led by Liao first encountered the Paper
Dome in 2005 when they were on a visit to Japan to attend activities
held to mark the 10th anniversary of the Kobe earthquake.
Learning that the structure was soon to be torn down to make way
for a new concrete church there, Liao proposed to the Japanese side
that the memorable building be relocated to Taiwan to extend its
The Paper Dome was officially inaugurated in Taomi on Sept. 21,
2008, the ninth anniversary of the 921 earthquake, and has since
become part of a leisure park that is a site for local handicraft
exhibitions, holiday farm fairs and ecological education.
Now, the 1,200 to 1,500 people visit the park on average during
weekends and the 200 to 300 people who visit on weekdays come in
close contact with the magic of community building and the passion
and energy of a reborn community.
"Such interaction will allow the experience and achievements of
community reconstruction to be seen and discovered and in turn become
a new value and action," Liao said.