小里長,大事業里長伯陳演城

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1992 / 10月

文‧張瓊方 圖‧黃麗梨


夜深了,里長伯的雜貨店依然燈火通明。這盞燈,帶給內溝里的居民許多希望……。


「各位鄉親大家好!今天早上××街×巷要鋪柏油,請大家配合,暫時不要在此停車……」

「……請大家一起來做資源回收工作,將府上的空寶特瓶、廢鐵罐……舊衣物,分裝處理,聽到『酒矸m賣嘸』音樂時,送出給回收車……」

「他是誰?」一對遷居台北市內湖區內溝里不到三個月的蕭姓新婚夫妻發出這樣的疑問。這位經常開著車大街小巷廣播的人,原來是當地無人不知、無人不曉的「里長伯」陳演城。

「從小到大,我從來不知道我家附近的里長是誰。搬來這堙A想不認識他也難」,蕭先生說。而原本嫌新居偏僻、交通不便的蕭太太,也開始對這個居住環境產生好感。「這麼熱心負責的里長,讓我對這個地方開始有認同」,她說。

老闆不當,當里長

「里長伯」陳演城其實還很年輕,今年只有四十一歲。八年前從三重搬到內湖內溝里,開了一家雜貨店。自從這位雜貨店老闆兩年前當上里長後,整天忙進忙出,已無暇照顧他的生意,只能偶爾有空時「幫太太」看看店,大部分時間則忙著當「雞婆」。

對於老公的「不務正業」,知夫莫若妻的陳太太十分支持。只不過少了陳演城的幫忙,陳太太必須整天「綁」在店堙A一步都走不開,「完全失去自由」,她說。

陳演城之所以「義不容辭」被鄰居「推」出來選里長,主要原因是內溝里被選為垃圾掩埋場的預定地。這個消息讓社區居民一改十多年來對里長選舉不聞不問的態度,慎重其事的投入這一屆的里長選舉,決心選一個真正願為地方出力的人。

拜開雜貨店之賜,加上陳演城本就熱心,平常他的店就像個「消息站」,誰要找保母、誰要租房子,都會主動來找他留意幫忙。

對面鄰居的孩子走丟了,他開車幫忙四處找;五樓有人去世,他去幫忙把屍體背下來;看見社區有婦人揹著婆婆要去看醫生,攔不到車,他就順便載她們一程……。這些陳演城原沒放在心上的事,在選里長時都發揮了功效。

受過他幫忙的人,四處為這位只受過初中教育的老實人宣傳拉票。當選後,當年那對攔不到計程車的婆媳,為他放了五、六百元的鞭炮。「就算從內溝搭計程車到街上醫院,也不過四十五塊錢」,陳演城笑說,這種投資報酬率實在太高了。

為里辛苦,為里忙

大家這麼辛苦為他爭取來的里長寶座,其實是件苦差事。每個月支領一萬元左右的辦事雜費、免費看一份報紙的「待遇」,卻有大大小小忙不完的事。

有人反映,隔壁鄰居的狗,老愛在半夜叫個不停,吵得人睡不著覺,希望里長去提醒一下狗主人;有人投書,蚊子太多,咬得人滿腿疱,要里長請人來噴藥;樓上漏水不肯修,弄得樓下苦不堪言,找里長排解;夫妻吵架鬧離婚,也請里長勸和;為爭停車位失和,也是里長出面。其它像辦理清寒證明、死亡證明……都是里長的工作。

為了要替里民服務,陳演城在雜貨店後面騰出一個約二坪大小的空間,做為辦公室。跟一些裝潢得可以媲美市議員服務處的里長辦公室相比,這裡實在小得不像話。但就在這堆滿照片、剪報資料、公告的小辦公室中,陳演城做出了令人「刮目相看」的成績。

走馬上任兩年多來,他一步一步的在實現當初的「政見」——出面協調解決垃圾掩埋場事,改善電視收視問題,解決排水問題,建社區公園……。

「其實有些事一點都不難」,陳演城表示,很多的意見、問題只是在社區、地方流傳,並沒有提供具體的資料讓區公所承辦人了解,當然一直無法改善。根據他的經驗,報告寫得具體、簡明,就會比較容易獲得採納施行。

從此下雨不用愁

最為里民津津樂道的是,陳演城果然改善了安泰街十幾年來每逢下雨就淹水的問題。這條聚集內溝里多數人口的街道,由於經常泥濘不堪,房價一直沒有起色。外地一位不知情的五金行老闆買下街上的一樓店面時,直呼自己撿到便宜;等搬來後飽受淹水之苦,才大罵上當。

陳演城經實地勘察後發現,街邊的排水溝根本是「假的」。頭、尾各挖一小段,中間沒挖,水怎麼會通呢?於是他寫了一份簡單扼要的公文,並別出心裁地附上淹水時自己所拍攝的照片,送到區公所,不久就有了回應。水溝重挖、加蓋,並重鋪柏油。「咱的里長真能幹」,五金行老闆如今逢人就誇。

爭取社區公園也是相同的模式。如今,在里長伯的爭取下,安泰街已有了一個小公園,總算稍為改善里民缺乏休閒場所的問題。

當然並不是每件事都這麼順利,也有些因經費龐大,牽涉問題過於複雜的事,令積極奔走的里長伯覺得有些「挫折」。像內溝山區因屬自來水管線末端,經常缺水,但由於山區住戶不多,而所需經費不貲,改善遙遙無期。安泰街街道狹窄,不僅平日停車、交通問題嚴重,遇有火災連救火車出入都有困難。里民大會決議請市府在山溝上另闢一條大馬路,陳演城報上去了,還沒有得到具體答覆。

民意、政策兩頭難

最棘手的還是垃圾掩埋場設在內溝一事。「身為里長、又是黨員,應該扮演政府與民眾的橋樑,而非帶領民眾與政府抗爭。但是反對設立掩埋場又是里民的共同心願,違反民意也不對……」,陳演城真是兩難。

為了解決問題,陳演城數度跟著專家進行內溝踏勘工作,並到氣象局、林務局……等單位去蒐集資料。列舉了時空、地形、氣候、地質……等等因素,說明內溝里不適合設置掩埋場。隨文並附彩色照片為證,編製成冊。他還到環保局陳情、市議會旁聽,並主動提供資料給記者。那陣子內溝里聲名大噪,陳演城也成了見報率最高的里長。他成功地將動態抗爭引導成紙上抗爭。

在陳演城的努力奔走下,內溝里雖未由掩埋場名單中除名,已由原先的第一順位降到第三順位。

倒是成為掩埋場第一預定地的南港山豬窟里里長,居然因此將被里民聯名罷免。聽到這個消息,陳演城不禁感嘆「現代里長難為」了。

現代里長難為

里長難為,內溝里里長尤其難為。內溝里是全台北市面積最大的一里,面積為五.六一七二平方公里,這麼大的「轄區」中有五分之四是山地保護區。由於保護區內有便捷的產業道路,吸引了許多不肖之徒到此傾倒廢土或垃圾,造成嚴重的環境污染。

只要見卡車載土呼嘯而過,或附近居民來報,陳演城立刻背起相機,開車偷偷尾隨。當場拍到傾倒者的車牌,便可以依據告發。

「這麼做其實相當危險」,陳演城透露,有一次他拍照時被卡車司機發現,那壯漢追著要來搶相機,「幸好他知道我是里長後,才不敢為難我。」

抓不勝抓、防不勝防,每隔一、二天,陳演城就會發現一、兩堆新倒的垃圾或廢土,這已嚴重到成為里長的頭號問題了。因此,環保局在今年四月首先選擇在內湖五個里做資源回收工作時,陳演城便聯合其他四里里長全力配合。「做好資源回收工作,垃圾就可以減量,我們可能就不需要那麼多垃圾掩埋場了」,陳演城解釋。

自己寫海報、錄宣傳語、開宣導車大街小巷拜託,果然成效不差,內溝里的垃圾回收成績績優,陳演城因而受到環保局表揚。

里長的一天

除了這些「重大業務」,陳演城每天還有些例行的工作。每天下午二、三點,他會開車繞一圈自己的「轄區」,看到保護區有新增的廢土、垃圾堆,就拍照請環保局來清理。樹木傾倒妨礙交通,自己動手解決。有空時也到廟旁割割芒草,清理附近環境。

每天晚上八點多,他必到山上土地廟與附近老先生們泡茶聊天。因為他明白,自己非土生土長的本地人,要順利推動「里務」,必須多花一點時間與「前輩」們溝通。

「話題從總統直選到路燈不亮,什麼都聊。常去聽聽他們的意見,才不會被人罵不知」,陳演城笑說。

十點多回到家,店門口的長桌上擺著幾副棋盤,棋友們正熱鬧的下著,陳演城有時加入,有時則在一旁聊聊天。一直到半夜二點多,雜貨店才關門。「除了多少做點生意外,還可以看頭看尾,宵小比較不敢在附近輕舉妄動」,陳演城說。

這樣一個全天候廿四小時待命的里長,早已忙得沒有自己時間。登山、攝影是陳演城的兩大嗜好,自從當了里長後,兩年多來未曾好好爬過山,而攝影也僅止於用來照些「證據照」罷了。

做事容易,做人難

至於許久不曾叮嚀他們念書的一兒一女,陳演城形容,他們就像種在地上的兩棵樹,得自己長大。「我只是提醒他們:爸爸是里長,不要給我漏氣喔!」

這些還不打緊,最令陳演城困擾的是忙不完的應酬。應酬、喝酒一向是他「最不會」的事。

眼見年底到了,又是婚喪喜慶特別多的季節,再加上選舉將屆,又會有一大堆推不掉的應酬。由於內湖區卅位里長已有三位因喝酒過量肝硬化去世,再行補選過,熱心、老實如陳演城,也難免要慎重考慮,四年屆滿後是不是要再出來選了。

但當聽到里民豎起大姆指稱讚「這位外地里長做得比本地人好」;當他知道,他這位里長伯總是成為內溝里計程車司機和乘客的話題時,這些口頭上的「回饋」又讓他精神百倍、忘卻辛勞了。

夜深了,里長伯的雜貨店依然燈火通明;這盞燈,帶給社區許多希望。

〔圖片說明〕

P.98

牆上掛滿匾額,地上、桌上堆滿剪報、相片、公告……,陳演城的里長辦公室雖小,成績卻叫人刮目相看。

P.100

舉凡婚喪喜慶,里長都得到場致意,陳演城有過一天寫十八幅輓聯的紀錄。

P.102

颳風下雨,資源回收工作還是照常進行,里長伯常一路跟隨回收車協助幫忙。

P.103

下棋、喝茶、聊天,鄰居間的感情、村里的需要,常是這麼「聊」出來的。

P.104

自從當了里長,店堛漸芛N全靠妻子費心,一兒一女也得自己照顧自己了。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

Minor Official, Major Successes--Neighborhood Chief Chen Yen-cheng

Chang Chung-fang /photos courtesy of Huang Li-li /tr. by Phil Newell

It is late at night, and as usual the light in the neighborhood chief's dry goods store is illuminated. This lamp has brought the people of the Neikou li (or neighborhood) a great deal of hope . . . .


"Friends and neighbors, hello everyone! Today they are going to lay down blacktop on such-and-such street, lane number such-and-such, so please don't park there for the time being . . . ."

". . . Let's everybody work together to get this recycling done. Please wrap up your empty plastic bottles, old cans, discarded clothing, and so on in separate bundles. When you hear that song being broadcast by the recycling truck, please give your bundles to the truck . . . ."

"Who's that?" This question came from a newly married couple named Hsiao who had just moved into the Neikou li (an administrative division roughly encompassing a neighborhood) in the Neihu District of Taipei less than three months earlier. It turns out that this guy driving on every street and back alley in the neighborhood broadcasting from his vehicle is none other than the man unknown to no local person--the li leader Chen Yen-cheng.

"In all the time I was growing up, I never knew who the neighborhood leader was around my house. When I moved here, I found that it would be difficult not to know him," says Mr. Hsiao. And Mrs. Hsiao, who hailed from a rather remote and inconvenient locality, began to get a positive feeling about her new living environment. "This enthusiastic and responsible neighborhood chief made me feel a sense of identification with this place," she explains.

Not the boss, the chief: "Uncle neighborhood leader" Chen is in fact still quite young--only 4l this year. Eight years ago he moved from Sanchung to the Neikou li, and opened a dry goods store. Ever since becoming the neighborhood chief two years ago, the nominal shop boss has been running in and out busy all the time. He already has no time to look after his business. He can only occasionally "help out the wife" to look after the store when he has a little spare time, but most of the time he is too busy being an "old hen," fussily looking after this or that.

Asked about her husband's "not handling his primary duties," Mrs. Chen strongly supports him. The only thing is that, without Chen Yen-cheng's help, Mrs. Chen must spend the entire day "tied down" to the shop, unable to take even a step out, and "fully deprived of my freedom," she adds.

The main reason why Chen Yen-cheng was pushed forward by his neighbors to be neighborhood chief, giving him a duty he could not in good conscience shirk, is that Neikou li was marked out as a future garbage burial site. This news compelled the residents to change their long-standing attitude of neglecting the neighborhood chief election and to get involved in the most recent race. They decided to choose someone who was really willing to do something for the area.

Thanks in part to the natural advantage of having a dry goods store, plus his innate enthusiasm, Chen's shop became something of a "rest station." Anyone who wanted to find a babysitter or rent an apartment would come to his shop to get him to ask around and help out.

When the child of the people living across from the shop went missing, he drove all over looking for him. When someone on the fifth floor passed away, he went over to help carry the deceased-downstairs. Seeing a woman trying to take her mother-in-law to the hospital but unable to flag down a cab, he picked them up and drove them there. All of these things, about which Chen had thought little, turned out to be great assets when it came time to elect the neighborhood chief.

People who had received his help went everywhere helping to campaign for this honest, unassuming man with only a junior high education. When he was elected, the household that couldn't get a taxi to stop that time set off NT$500-600 in firecrackers. "And the taxi ride from Neikou to the hospital couldn't have been more than NT$45," laughs Chen. That's really a high rate of return on his investment.

Suffering for the neighborhood: Actually, it has been no picnic being in the honored place which everyone worked to win for him. There is only a "salary" of NT$10,000 per month and a free newspaper, yet there are countless matters large and small to attend to.

Some people let him know that the neighbor's dog is always barking at night so that people can't sleep, and they hope the li chief can remind the owners. Someone else writes a letter saying that there are too many mosquitos and their leg had been bitten until it swelled, and wants the chief to bring someone in to spray insecticide. The apartment upstairs is leaking water on the one below, but isn't willing to repair the leak, so that the people downstairs can no longer take it, and they seek out the neighborhood chief to mediate. A husband and wife are fighting and talking divorce, and even here the li head is called in to offer advice. A fight over a parking space also brings the neighborhood leader out. Other clerical tasks, like issuing a certificate for a low-income household, issuing a death certificate, and so on, are all part of the neighborhood chief's duties.

In order to serve his neighbors, Chen Yen-cheng set aside a space of 70 square feet or so in the back of his shop to serve as an office. Compared to the finely decorated service offices of city councilmen and other li leaders, this one is too small for words. But in this office littered with photos, newspaper slippings, and official announcements, Chen Yen-cheng has made enviable accomplishments.

In the two-plus years since taking office, he has put into practice his "political ideals" step by step--coming forward to negotiate and solve the problem of the garbage burial site, improving television reception, resolving drainage problems, building a neighborhood park . . . .

"In fact some things have not been difficult in the least," states Chen. Many opinions and problems are just bandied about in the neighborhood or district, but no concrete data is ever given to the district office people to let them understand, so of course there was never any improvement. In his experience, if you write reports concretely and simply, you are more likely to get action.

No need to worry about the rain: What has made his constituents most happy is that Chen has finally solved the problem of flooding on Antai Street every time it rains, a problem that had gone on for over a decade. This street, where a large number of Neikou li residents are concentrated, never experienced rising real estate values because it was usually flooded. When the boss of a hardware store, an outsider to the neighborhood who didn't know the actual situation, wanted to buy a storefront there, he only thought about getting it cheap. It was only when it rained and he experienced the hardship of flooding that he began crying that he'd been had.

After an on-site inspection, Chen Yen-cheng discovered that the drainage pipe along the side of the road was completely fake--a little hole had been dug at the head and at the end, but the part in the middle had never been cleared, so how could the water get through? So he wrote a simple document, hitting only the main points, and attached photographs that he himself had taken during flooding, and sent these to the district office. Not long after there was a response. The drainage ditch was redug, covered, and even blacktopped over. "Our neighborhood chief is really a can-do type," says the hardware store owner.

Getting the neighborhood park followed a similar pattern. Today, with "uncle" neighborhood chief's efforts, Antai Street has a small park, which is something of an improvement in the problem of the lack of recreational space for local residents.

Of course not everything goes so smoothly. Some things which have required too much money or involved a complex variety of interests have left this activist "frustrated." For example, because the Neikou Mountain area is at the end of the water system, it is often short of water. But because few people live there, and the expense would be great, improvement has been put off indefinitely. Antai Street is very narrow, and there are not only daily problems with parking and traffic, but in the event of fire the emergency vehicles can't get in or out. The neighborhood assembly has asked the city to open another road; Chen delivered the petition upward, but as yet has had no concrete answer.

Caught between policy and public opinion: The thorniest problem is still the establishment of a garbage burial site in Neikou. "As a li official and also as a member of the ruling party, I should play the role of a bridge between government and citizens, and not lead the people in confrontations with the government. But opposition to the establishment of the dump is the consensus view of the residents, and it's also not right to go against public opinion," says Chen from between the rock and the hard place.

To solve the problem, on many occasions Chen followed specialists around as they did the work of looking at Neikou, and went to the weather bureau, the forestry bureau, and other units to collect data. Citing factors of space, topography, weather, and geology, he explained how Neikou is not a suitable site for a dump. Adding photos and supporting evidence, he made the report into a volume. He also went to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to petition and to the Taipei City Council to listen in, and took the initiative to give his data to reporters. At that time the name of Neikou li became widely known, and Chen Yen-cheng was the neighborhood chief whose name appeared most often in the papers. He successfully guided opposition to the plan from random, active resistance to documentary resistance.

Given Chen's efforts, though Neikou's name has not yet been removed from the list of eligible sites for the dump, it has moved down from the top-ranked site to number three.

On the other side, the residents of the neighborhood in the Nankang District which has moved up to number one have collectively impeached their neighborhood chief. Hearing this news, Chen Yen-cheng could only sympathize, "It's hard to be a modern neighborhood leader."

Lonely at the top: It's hard to be a neighborhood chief, and especially hard in Neikou. The Neikou neighborhood has the largest area of any li in Taipei City, over 5.6 square kilometers. Four-fifths of this enormous "jurisdiction" is protected mountain land. Because there is a good road into the mountains, many less-than-model citizens have been attracted to dump waste land or garbage here, creating serious environmental pollution.

If he just sees a dump truck laden with dirt whizzing by, or gets a report from a resident, Chen immediately grabs his camera and drives off, tailing the truck. He takes photos of the license plate of the truck "in the act," and then can report the incident with evidence.

"It's actually quite dangerous doing it this way," reveals Chen. Once when he was taking photos he was discovered by the truck driver. The lefty character gave chase, trying to take the camera away. "Fortunately, he didn't dare to hassle me after he knew I was the neighborhood chief."

But there's just too many to catch or prevent. Every day or two, he finds a new pile or two of rubbish or waste land, and it has become serious enough to be the li head's number one priority. Thus when the city DEP chose the five neighborhoods in Neihu to do recycling for the first time, Chen got together with four other neighborhood chiefs and went all out to work with them. "If we do recycling right, then we can lower the amount of garbage, and then we might not need so many dump-sites," he explains.

Drawing up posters by himself, recording information messages, and driving a sound truck through all the streets of the area, Chen's results have not been bad. Neikou's recycling achievements have been outstanding, in fact, and Chen has consequently won praise from the DEP.

A day in the life: Besides these "major tasks," Chen has quite a bit of routine work to do every day. Every day at two or three in the afternoon he drives once around his jurisdiction to see if there are any new piles of garbage or waste land, then takes photos and asks the DEP to come clean them up. If a tree has fallen in the street, he moves it himself. If he has time he'll go by the local temple and cut away some of the wild grass growing there to beautify the surrounding area.

Every evening at eight, he makes a point of going to the Land God Temple in the mountains to have tea and chat with the local elders. This is because he understands that he did not grow up in this place, and if he wants his work to go smoothly, he has to invest a little time keeping in touch with the older generation.

"Topics range from direct election of the president to streetlights that aren't working--we talk about everything. I often go to hear out their views, and that way I won't be attacked as being uninformed," he laughs.

At 10︰00 he goes home. On the long table in front of the store are arrayed several Chinese chess sets, and the chess fans are earnestly playing. Sometimes Chen joins in, sometimes he just sits off to the side and chats. The dry goods shop only closes up at 2︰00 AM. "Besides doing a little extra business, we can keep an eye on things and the local rascals are less likely to do anything precipitous in the area," notes Chen.

This type of li officer, available 24 hours a day, is so busy that there is no personal time left. Hiking and photography are Chen's two great pastimes. In the two years since becoming a neighborhood chief, he hasn't had a real solid hike, and his photography is limited to "evidentiary" work.

It's easy to take care of business, hard to take care of people: As for the son and daughter whom he has not reminded to study in a long time, Chen describes them as being like two trees planted in the earth who must grow up themselves. "I just remind them, remember that Dad is the neighborhood chief, so don't make me upset!"

These problems are not so serious. The biggest headache for Chen is the endless string of compulsory "social" engagements. Drinking and toasting have always been things "I did the worst of everything."

The end of the year is approaching; it is also the season when major events like weddings and births are most common; and the election is also coming up. Each of these events involves "can't refuse" social engagements. Because three of the 30 neighborhood chiefs in Neihu have died from sclerosis of the liver from excessive drinking, the sincere and unassuming Chen must seriously reconsider whether he will run for reelection when his four-year term is up.

But when he heard that the li citizens had given him a big "thumbs up" and said, "This outsider neighborhood chief is even better than a local one," and when he heard that he had become the topic of the day for conversations between taxi drivers and passengers, these verbal "rewards" boosted his morale greatly and allowed him to forget his hard labors.

It is late at night, and the light in the neighborhood chief's shop is, as usual, shining. This light is giving the people of his community much hope.

[Picture Caption]

Wall covered with plaques, floor and desk covered with newspaper clippings, photos, and documents...although Chen Yen-cheng's neighborhood chief's office is small, many accomplishments have been made there.

Whenever there is a wedding, funeral, or other event, the neighborhood chief must not fail to send his respects. Chen has set a one-day record of writing couplets for 18 events.

In typhoon or heavy rains, the work of recycling must go on. Neigborhood chief "Uncle" Chen often accompanies the recycling truck to help out.

Chess, tea, chatting...the sentiments of the residents and needs of the area are often "talked out" just this way.

Ever since becoming neighborhood leader, he has relied on his wife to tend shop; his son and daughter must also largely look after themselves.

 

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