花蓮豐田人文景致

五味屋的共好旅行
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2019 / 9月

文‧陳群芳 圖‧莊坤儒


時值八月,花蓮豐田的五味屋種下一批意外降臨的洛神花。早在三月就已播種卻一直沒動靜,而土壤都被再利用移去種樹了;沒想到幾個月後卻在樹苗盆裡發了芽,那堅毅的生命力就像孩子。

洛神花的種植,只要在幼苗時給予培養土、保持排水良好、適時拔除雜草,接下來便會自己成長茁壯,十分適合以自然農法栽種。一如五味屋的信念,活用鄉村所擁有的,與孩子一起把日子過得更好,讓幼時的支持與陪伴,化作孩子面對困境時的養分,讓鄉村的孩子長出獨一無二的美麗姿態。

 


 

周末上午九點,孩子一個個來到五味屋,大家依照分配到的工作打掃環境、整理貨架等,準備公益二手商店的營業。工作區裡成人或大孩子帶著小小孩整理物資,開箱、研究、討論、標價、上架,每項捐物宛如一個新世界,「這是什麼?從哪裡來?這麼好的東西為什麼它的主人不要了?要賣多少錢?太貴會賣不掉,太便宜又覺得吃虧……」諸如此類的提問對話,不斷地在五味屋裡發生。

孩子在過程中學認字、學表達、數學運算、經濟行為,學習分辨需要與想要。當各式各樣的客人進到店內,詢價、議價、串門子,孩子從中練習應對。生活中處處是學習,每個角落都有孩子的笑鬧聲,這是五味屋的日常。

五味屋的起點

座落於花蓮豐田車站外的五味屋公益二手商店,原是日治時期留下,以甘蔗葉作屋頂的風鼓斗老房子。十多年前,這棟隸屬鐵路局、殘破不堪的建築,面臨拆除的命運;卻因為充滿當地人的歷史記憶,2008年在社區居民的來回奔走下,被保留了下來。

居民找上長期參與花蓮社區發展、在東華大學任教的顧瑜君,希望能為這閒置空間進行改造。畢業自中興大學社會系社工組的顧瑜君,擔任社工時總喜歡用自己的方式關懷個案,卻被認為那是老師的工作,奉勸她不要越界。於是她到美國念教育,1995年來到花蓮,擔任師培中心主任。以「做後山的老師真好」為初衷,摸索鄉村的優勢,試圖以富地方感的教育,改變鄉村的樣貌。

十多年過去,雖然培育了一批批對鄉村教育懷抱熱情的老師,但鄉村的主流價值仍未改變:到都市發展才能有成就、若成績不好就只能留在鄉下務農;如此,鄉村成了年輕人急欲逃離的地方,只有沒選擇的弱勢才會留下來。顧瑜君深深體認到教育的大環境像是銅牆鐵壁,難以鬆動。老房子的出現,或許能將她在社工、教育系統裡遇到的困境,轉化為實現理想鄉村教育、改善弱勢問題的基地。於是她帶著一群有熱忱的大人與孩子,在這裡經營起公益二手商店,並取名為「五味屋」。因為這裡主要做的不是金錢的買賣,而是開啟人與人之間的關係,感受充滿酸甜苦辣鹹的人生滋味。

每個孩子都是策展的作品

顧瑜君把五味屋作為鄉村孩子的多元學習場域,她說:「在五味屋裡,所有的工作都是孩子的學習。」大人帶著孩子修繕牆壁、油漆粉刷,沒有貨架就用紙箱DIY,廢家具保留可用的部分重新組合,五張桌子變三張,即使桌腳顏色不一樣,也同樣好用。

孩子在五味屋工作賺取點數,可以用點數兌換生活所需,或是參加活動的機會,例如爬山、環島等。孩子想學吉他,五味屋就找東華的大學生來教,讓孩子將點數換成吉他課的時數。五味屋鼓勵孩子的各種夢想,並和孩子一起制定實現的方法,讓孩子有追夢的能力與勇氣,不因出身偏鄉就只能等待外界援助。

去年顧瑜君獲得溫世仁基金會的GHF教育創新學人獎,今年九月將要到澳洲分享五味屋的故事。顧瑜君將出國機會規劃為孩子一起去發表的學習活動。若孩子有意願前往,必須先提出企畫書、製作上台簡報等各種功課,孩子們笑說顧瑜君是大魔王,得通過考驗才能去澳洲。

來到五味屋的孩子都有各自的生命難題,父母離異、必須在親戚間流轉,家長工作與經濟狀況不穩定、無力好好照顧孩子……,這些艱困的環境反映在孩子身上,可能是對學習不感興趣、情緒起伏大等各種令師長額外費心的狀況。顧瑜君以策展人的概念來形容五味屋與孩子們的相處,「每個孩子都是一件作品,要依這個孩子的樣子讓他重新被認識、理解與肯定。我們不是補救他,不是把他捏成一個好看的樣子。」

就像許多訪客常會問顧瑜君,如何解決小孩偷竊的問題,她總是笑笑地說:「不是只有小孩會偷,還有專門來五味屋偷東西的客人。」所以她會先懸置「矯正偷竊」這個想法,「每次孩子發生偷竊,我們就跟孩子討論,他跟偷竊這件事的關係,進而更理解和認識他。讓偷竊這件事成為回饋孩子成長的生命養分。然後我們繼續陪著孩子長大,有一天,他就開竅不偷了。」

請陪我一起愛我的家長

在五味屋,學習不只在孩子身上發生,而是大人與孩子共學。即使家長的客觀條件不好,但孩子一有機會仍想待在爸媽身邊,「孩子不斷用他們的行為傳達『不管我的家長在師長眼裡的評價如何不好我都愛他。如果不能肯定我的家長,不能讓他在我的成長過程中扮演正向的角色。』對孩子來講心裡永遠缺一塊。」顧瑜君說。

於是顧瑜君放下家長必須成為有責任感的大人的執念,重新與這些不符社會期望的家長建立關係,邀請他們參與五味屋的活動。不好意思走進店裡的,顧瑜君就找藉口請他換燈泡,邀請他來店內坐坐,製造親子互動的機會。

甚至就地創造就業機會,把必須到外地工作的家長留下來,讓孩子能與父母同住。

如有機會來五味屋走走,除了二手商店本體,對面的二手衣店──瘋衣舍也有許多寶藏可挖。店內後方的小吃部──築夢踏食,更是不容錯過。裡面販售的都是社區媽媽製作的手工點心。坐在窗板往外推出的座位前,看著人稱秀凰媽的婦女熟稔的煎著蔥油餅,時而靦腆的與客人有一搭沒一搭的聊天,還會大方推薦自己做的洛神冰棒,很難想像多年前她來到五味屋時,是個極度沒有自信,時常因為身心狀況不佳就消失逃避的人。

採訪當天,有位調皮的孩子把自己的頭髮剪了一個大缺角,偏偏年邁的阿公比較傳統、脾氣火爆,這下可能會引來一陣打罵。面對這個可能的危機,五味屋不是規勸家長別對孩子動怒;而是由工作人員陪著孩子回家,一起挨罵,讓孩子藉機反省,陪孩子面對家長情緒最暴戾的時刻,最後孩子被罰站作結。不在孩子面前否定家長,不讓孩子夾在中間為難,是五味屋大人特有的溫柔。

村子裡的人情味

五味屋經過十年的成長茁壯,不只二手商店營運穩定,還自己長出了幾家關係企業。除了對街上的瘋衣舍、築夢踏食,五味屋後方有處120坪的見性工坊,是孩子做木工、舉辦特賣會的場所。分散在社區其他地點的,有洛神花田、提供大孩子晚上一起煮食和寫作業的夢想館、二手書店──豐田の冊所、兩間公益民宿:外婆的家和豐田行館。

說是自己長出來的,因為這些都不在五味屋開店之初的規劃裡。開張在2008年8月30日,一個農民曆寫著諸事不宜的日子,這間「囝仔們ㄟ店」,沒有人知道可以開多久,顧瑜君甚至作好了倒店的打算。沒想到,孩子願意來,而且有了正向的改變;社區居民也給予支持,一有閒置空間就推薦給五味屋使用,甚至還不收房租。五味屋的大人、孩子一起討論空間運用,志工們需要住宿,就整理成民宿;出借屋子的主人喜歡書,就開書店。沒有商業考量,盤點需求和資源,讓孩子發揮創意妝點,每個空間都有孩子的學習軌跡。

今年八月五味屋又有新的據點──鐵皮屋電影院,孩子將這空間取名為「好想暫留屋」。採訪時遇上孩子在社區宣傳開幕活動,看著大孩子牽著小小孩的手走進店內,店家停下手邊工作,認真聆聽孩子的宣傳,不因為孩子口齒不清感到不耐,還會不斷給予鼓勵,充滿人情味。

由孩子妝點家鄉容顏

這幾年越來越多人認識五味屋,常有國內外的團體前來參訪。工作人員會先了解參訪者的目標與期待,再與孩子們一起為訪客們設計小旅行的內容。當天再由孩子們分工,有人當嚮導,有人負責炒熱氣氛,看著都市孩子接觸自然的驚奇表情,五味屋孩子的臉上則充滿對家鄉的認同與自信。

鐵皮屋電影院在孩子們好幾個月的整理下,終於開幕,五味屋期待這是個與社區一起共享的空間。社區長輩的樂齡課程可以在這裡看電影,又或是邀請東華大學裡來自東南亞的學生為移工及新住民選擇影片,再號召來自東南亞的各方好友前來一同欣賞。這些想法不斷地在五味屋冒出來,可不可行一切順其自然。

第一批在五味屋長大的孩子已有人回到豐田參與社區營造工作,也有在外地就讀社工系的孩子,寒暑假回到五味屋照顧小小孩。顧瑜君說她1995年來到花蓮,便開始參與社區工作,當年第一屆的青年服務隊如今都已當爸媽,五味屋的下個十年就是跟這些在村子長大的孩子討論他們想讓下一代在鄉村過甚麼樣的生活。

五味屋的每一天都是流動的,機動地因應孩子的狀況而調整,看著孩子不停地長大,越來越茁壯。就像顧瑜君以自然農法照顧洛神花,「我們現在有點像是把基礎打好、整好地,看看能種些什麼,讓孩子有個好的地方,依著他們的樣子,長出一些有趣的東西。」顧瑜君說。           

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近期文章

EN

5-Way House:

Second-Hand Goods, First-Hand Experiences

Chen Chun-fang /photos courtesy of Chuang Kung-ju /tr. by Phil Newell

In the month of August, children are planting out young roselle bushes outside 5-Way House in Hua­lien’s Fengtian Village. Seeds were sown back in March, but nothing stirred, and the soil was reused for growing tree seedlings. But a few months later, to every­one’s surprise, roselle plants sprang up in the seedling pots. Roselles just need a little care when they are seedlings, and they will grow big and strong on their own, so they are especially suited to natural farming methods. This is like the concept behind 5-Way House, where rural children are given support and guidance from a young age; this can serve as a source of strength when the children face difficult situations, so that they can grow up to live beautiful, fruitful lives.

 


Around 9 a.m. on weekends, children come to 5-Way House to prepare this charity second-hand shop for the day’s business. In the work area, adults or older children guide young children in arranging goods. Each donated item is a new discovery: “What’s this? Where did it come from? Why didn’t its owner want to keep it? How much should we ask for it? If it’s too expensive, it won’t sell; if it’s too cheap, we’ll feel taken advantage of….”

In the process, children learn to read and to express ­themselves, and to distinguish between “needing something” and “wanting something.” When customers ask prices, haggle, or just drop by for a visit, children can learn how to engage with them. Children learning through life experiences, in a space filled with the sounds of their laughter and play: this is the daily norm at 5-Way House.

The starting point

Located beside Fengtian Train Station in Hua­lien County’s Shoufeng Township, 5-Way House is an old building left behind from the era of Japanese rule, with a hipped roof, sloped on all four sides, that is lined with sugar­cane leaves. Ten or so years ago, it was slated to be demolished, but in the end was preserved because it is full of historical memories for local residents.

The residents sought out Ku Yu-chun, a professor at National Dong Hwa University who has long been involved in community development in Hualien, to lead the way in renovating the space. Ku arrived in Hualien in 1995 to become director of the Center for Teacher Education at Dong Hwa, where she tried to transform rural communities through edu­cation infused with a sense of place.

However, after more than a decade of training class after class of teachers who were full of enthusiasm for rural education, Ku realized that the mainstream values of the country­side had not changed: One could only succeed by going to the city, and if your grades were poor then all you could do was stay in the countryside and work on the farm. Thus young people were anxious to leave rural areas, and only those with no choice stayed behind. Ku felt that the prevalence of these values in edu­cation created an impenetrable wall. But perhaps this old building could be transformed into a base for putting her educational ideals into practice and improving conditions for disadvantaged people. So she brought together a group of adults and children to operate a charity second-hand shop, which she called “Wu Wei Wu” (literally “Five Flavor House,” but translated as 5-Way House) because this was not a place for making profits, but a space where people could build relationships with one another and where all the flavors of life could be tasted.

Each child a work to be curated

For Ku Yu-chun to transform 5-Way House into a venue for diverse learning for rural children, a lot of work needed to be done. Adults and children worked together to repair the walls; there were no display shelves, so they had to make do with cardboard boxes; and they reassembled salvage­able parts of discarded furniture to make three good tables out of five broken ones.

Children who work at 5-Way House can earn points that they can exchange for daily necessities or ­opportunities to take part in activities. For instance, several children wanted to learn to play the guitar, so 5-Way House found a student at Dong Hwa University to come out and teach them, and the children could exchange points for guitar class time. 5-Way House and the children work together to find practicable ways to build kids’ ability and courage to pursue their dreams, and not merely wait around for assistance because they were raised in a poor, remote area.

Last year Ku won a “Global Highlights for the Future” educational fellowship from the Sayling Wen Cultural and Educational Foundation, and this September she will go to Australia to tell the 5-Way House story. Ku has turned the fellowship into a study activity for the children, giving them the chance to go with her and speak about 5-Way House themselves. Those who wish to take part must first put in a written plan, then give an onstage presentation. Kids jokingly compare Ku Yu-chun with a demon guarding a gate—you can only go to Australia if you pass her tests.

Many of the kids who come to 5-Way House are from broken homes, and have to move around between relatives’ families; or their parents have no regular work or income…. These issues manifest themselves in various ways: children may be poorly motivated to study, or emotionally unstable. Ku uses the meta­phor of an exhibition curator to describe her relationship with them: “Each child is like a work of art, and based on the given child’s form and nature we try to enable them to be recognized anew, understood, and appreciated. We are not ‘repairing’ them, nor are we ‘molding’ them into something more attractive.”

For example, many people ask Ku how to stop a child from stealing. She says: “It’s not only children who steal. 5-Way House also has customers who come specifically to steal things.” First, she sets aside the idea of “correcting” the child’s stealing. “Each time an incident of theft occurs involving the child, we will discuss with them their connection with stealing, and from there we can better under­stand and know the child. We turn the theft into a life experience that can feed back into the child’s maturation process. After that we continue to stay with the child as they grow older and then one day, their ideas straighten out and they no longer steal.”

Please love my parents as I do

At 5-Way House, it is not only children who learn, but adults and children who learn together. Even if parents are objectively poor role models, children, given the chance, will still choose to stay with their parents. “Through their behavior, children continually express the idea that ‘no matter what the teacher thinks of my parents, I will always love them.’ If others can’t show respect to a child’s parents, it will prevent them from playing a positive role in the child’s life as the child grows up. And this will leave a permanent hole in the hearts of these children,” says Ku Yu-chun.

As a result, Ku abandoned her fixation on the notion that parents had to become responsible adults, and started afresh to build new relationships with these parents who don’t live up to society’s expectations.

5-Way House has even worked to create local job opportunities, so that parents who would otherwise be forced to seek work elsewhere can remain with their families, and the child can live with both parents.

Take for example “Food Stand,” located just across from 5-Way House. The space exclusively sells snacks handmade by mothers in the community. Looking at a woman named Xiu­feng who is making scallion pancakes with an experienced hand, occasionally shyly chatting with customers, and robustly recommending roselle popsicles she has made herself, it’s hard to imagine that when she first came to 5-Way House many years ago, she was utterly lacking in self-confidence and often unable to face others when she had physical or mental problems.

The warmth of a village

Over the past ten years, 5-Way House has not only thrived and put its second-hand shop on a sound footing, it has also given rise to several related “offshoot” enterprises. Besides Feng Yi Shi (a second-hand clothes shop) and Food Stand across the street, behind 5-Way House there is the Jian Xing Workshop, a 400-square-meter space where children can do woodworking, and where special sales events are held. Distributed throughout the community are other venues, including a roselle garden, the Dream House (where children can gather in the evenings to cook food and do homework), a second-hand bookshop called 5-Way Bookstore, and two homestays run for charity: Grandma’s House and Feng Tian Hostel.

These places are described as offshoots of 5-Way House because they were not part of the original plan for the shop. Local residents have given their support, offering idle spaces for 5-Way House to use, without even charging rent. Adults and children from 5-Way House discuss the use of spaces together. When volunteers needed a place to stay, a space was turned into a homestay. When it turned out that the lender of a house loved books, they opened a bookstore there. Commercial considerations did not come into play, so they could simply make an inventory of needs and resources. The children could exercise their creativity in decorating these places, and so every space shows traces of children learning by doing.

This August, 5-Way House opened a new venue: a community movie theater set up in an unused sheet metal structure, which the children have dubbed “The Place Where You Really Want to Stay Awhile.” When we visited Feng­tian, we saw the children spreading the word in the community about the opening ceremony for the theater. We witnessed older children leading younger children by the hand into nearby shops, where owners would put aside their work and listen earnestly to what the children had to say. They did not get impatient if the children could not express themselves clearly, but rather continually offered them encouragement, showing great kindness and warmth.

Decorated by children

The new community theater was finally opening after months of renovation and clean-up work by the children. 5-Way House hopes this will be a space that is shared with the community. Movies can be shown here as part of senior education for community elders, and perhaps Southeast-­Asian students from National Dong Hwa University can be invited to choose films for migrant workers and immigrants, bringing in all kinds of Southeast-Asian friends to watch together. Ideas like these are continually popping up at 5-Way House, with it left to emerge naturally over time which are feasible and which are not.   

From the first group of children who grew up with 5-Way House, some have by now returned home to Fengtian to take part in community development work. There are also young people studying social work or related subjects at university elsewhere who return to 5-Way House during summer and winter vacations to look after the younger children.

Each day at 5-Way House is flexible, and can be adjusted in line with the children’s needs as they grow up and become stronger and sturdier. It’s a lot like the way Ku Yu-chun uses natural farming methods to care for roselle plants: “Right now it’s as if we’ve laid the foundations and prepared the soil, and are seeing what we can cultivate, so that each according to their individual natures, the children can grow up in different and interesting ways.”     

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