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    How Residents Are Rebuilding Shanghai’s Urban Communities

    In 2016, Shanghai became the first Chinese city to commit to the 15-minute city approach to urban planning. Increasingly popular around the world, the 15-minute city model seeks to ensure all residents can meet their everyday needs — groceries, work, and play — within a 15-minute walk of their homes. 

    But just eliminating food deserts and shortening commutes isn’t enough. The past several decades have remade China’s urban fabric, as population mobility, urban development, and the end of the work unit-based welfare system fractured the sense of community within neighborhoods. That’s where non-profit community-building organizations like Dayu Community Design come in. Backed by local governments across China, these groups work with local residents to promote community action and combat atomization. In Shanghai’s Xinhua neighborhood, for example, residents have helped revitalize backstreets, build community gardens, and increase accessibility for residents with disabilities. 

    Its goal is to encourage residents to once again participate in community life. The heavy reliance on government funding poses challenges, however.