漂流重生──向陽薪傳木工坊

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2012 / 9月

文‧陳建瑋 圖‧金宏澔


2009年,莫拉克颱風改變了許多人的命運,台東太麻里鄉在這場風災中,受暴雨和土石流侵襲,數個村落和大片賴以為生的農地都被掩埋。

隨滾滾洪流被沖下山的樹木,如同許多出外打拚的台東人一樣失根漂流,無法在自己的土地上立足。向陽薪傳木工坊不但要讓漂流木重新產生價值,更要令漂流的人找回自己的心。


位在台東縣太麻里鄉境內的多良車站,依山傍海而立,曾被評為台灣最美麗的車站,卻因使用率低,於2006年停止營運。廢棄後的多良車站,其蒼涼的景象與遼闊的海景,道盡了在地人的辛酸矛盾。

好山好水不寂寞

台東坐擁好山好水,卻因交通不便,經濟發展始終居於劣勢;人口外移,徒留良田美地,卻遺失了傳統農耕與文化的靈魂。

緊貼在多良車站之上,是多良國小的舊址,早在民國88學年度就被裁併,比車站更早落入荒涼。空蕩的教室,散落的書本,黑板上還留著學生的塗鴉,面對一望無際的太平洋,頓時令人興起「田園將蕪,胡不歸」之嘆。

在部落基層耕耘20年,現任原愛工坊協會理事長鄭漢文,早在風災之前,就已開始注意部落人口流失的問題。

曾任台東新興國小校長的鄭漢文,剛來到原鄉就看見部落裡嚴重的家庭教養問題;由於缺乏工作機會,父母不得不留下小孩出外打拚,新興國小的學童,有將近7成來自單親或隔代教養的家庭。

「孩子在軟弱的時候,沒有父母的懷抱;迷失方向時,少了親人的引導,就容易走錯路。」鄭漢文為了下一代的未來,積極走入社區,利用學校與老師的力量,幫助村子內失業、閒晃的人,重新學習木雕技能;老師則協助架設網站行銷,為社區創造小而美的經濟收入。

然而,創造就業機會不是一蹴可幾。為此,鄭漢文提出「樂校愛家,我的校園就是家」的理念,透過師長和部落長輩深入的關懷,替孩子樹立榜樣,要讓孩子在校園中找回缺失的家庭功能。

2008年,林務局有鑑於每次颱風過境後,清運漂流木的工作費時費力,遂與鄭漢文合作成立原愛木工坊。木工坊出品的桌椅,在多次展覽中闖出名號,曾創下兩天內賣出七十多張桌椅的紀錄,而這一切都是為了重新凝聚家族向心力,藉著創造就業機會,把人留下來。

2010年,鄭漢文又進一步與關心原鄉發展的清華大學教授曾晴賢合作,接受林務局委託推動漂流木應用計畫,將數十萬噸的漂流木運用在台東當地產業上。

「我們試著重新啟動人們對土地的記憶,希望能挽留一些和過去文化經驗的連結。」鄭漢文表示,山林裡原本珍貴的台灣檜木、肖楠木、烏心石和台灣榆,在風災後流向海洋,如果任其漂流腐敗,或是放火燒掉,都是不利生態環境的錯誤方法。

此外,勞委會也透過「培力就業計畫」輔導經營團隊、培訓種子學員,並提供補助經費。2010年向陽薪傳木工坊在各方協助下成立,地點就選在廢棄的多良國小。

多良國小的校舍沿著山坡而建,分成上下兩排,上排將4間教室打通,各種木工機具依照製造工序擺放,形成一個完整生產線;下排是商品展售間,供遊客選購,並設有咖啡屋和露天座位,享用咖啡之餘還能遠眺太平洋美景。

從廢校到樂校

緊鄰著廢棄的車站,使用廢棄校舍和廢棄的木材,在一片頹敗之中,這群人正向著陽光日漸茁壯。

「外界常有一種誤認,覺得原住民天生就會木工,」曾晴賢說,木工是運用自然資源來達成生活需求的技術,在現代生活中許多人早已遺忘這項技術。

為了讓原住民重新熟練木雕技藝,木工坊採用傳統師徒制教學,針對每個人的長處和缺點來調整教學內容,比技職教育更靈活,還特地請來曾赴德國、瑞士學習木工技法、前公東高工校長黃清泰授課。許多原本離鄉的原住民,在得知培訓計畫的消息後,都願意放下外地的工作回來家鄉,一同學習成長。

曾晴賢的團隊也設計一組3D積木,包含方形、錐狀、柱體及圓弧,透過這組積木的製作,教會學員立體雕刻、線鋸、車製等各種木工技法。這組積木也是木工坊主要商品之一,極受各地中小學歡迎;積木中,包含多種台灣原木,還能兼做自然教學的教材。

在習得基本技法後,學員便開始發揮創意,製作自己的作品。大部分學員都是從做中學,以學校為工廠,充分體現「樂校愛家」的精神。

大材大用,小材小用

以漂流木為素材的作品,需要依照木頭本身的形狀和質地,適材適性地發揮。木工坊的主要產品包括木雕藝術品和家具,大型的漂流木可製作成餐桌、長椅、立鏡等,較小的木材也可作成精緻小巧的梳子、餐具、收納盒等。

特別是漂流木製成的長桌,天然原木的紋理,透過樸實工法,產生如海浪般的優雅線條;桌面不上漆,只打磨拋光,呈現出木材的自然溫暖,更透出淡淡山林香氣,頗有療癒人心之效。

「大材大用、小材小用,天生我材必有用。」曾晴賢表示,即便是不成材的漂流木,也能找到用處。他們曾向台糖公司購買大武山的「台灣阿嬤」蝴蝶蘭幼株,利用殘材作為花器培育,讓族人透過自己的手來種植當地的原生蝴蝶蘭,成為天然的裝置藝術。

除了木雕之外,他們也和大型工廠合作,引進規格化製造工序,透過機器模造,製作積木、摺凳和紀念品,出貨穩定,市場反應良好,目前在台北、高雄的「台灣好基金會」都有鋪貨。

拜網路科技之賜,客戶可以直接從臉書下訂單,只要寫明規格尺寸,木工坊就可以替你量身打造獨一無二的家具。他們也接到不少海外訂單,有一位香港客人,連產品都沒看過,僅聽朋友介紹,就直接下訂。產品寄出後,木工坊的夥伴都很緊張,深怕客戶不滿意,結果對方收到貨之後,透過電子郵件表示非常喜歡,大家才鬆了一口氣,對自己的產品和技術更有信心。

此外包括澳洲、德國的家具通路商,也開始銷售他們的產品。更可貴的是,在引進生產線的同時,他們仍然維持「多能工」的教學,力求讓每位學員能夠獨立作業,目前已經有一位學員自行創業成功,開始承接木作工程。

回家的路

看著學員們日漸成長,鄭漢文十多年付出的心血終於有所成果。雖然學員人數只有大約二十多人,但是只要能留住一個人,就能使兩個、甚至更多個漂泊靈魂不再感覺孤單,讓老人與孩子都能獲得陪伴。

「我們關注的不是一個月能賺多少錢,而是家庭的延續和生命記憶的傳承。」鄭漢文表示,木工坊並不是要開創一番轟轟烈烈的大事業,而是把人留下來。因為父母是孩子成長的力量,是射穿貧窮的子彈,有核心的家才能給孩子帶來希望。

向陽薪傳也努力與世界接軌,分享溫暖。日本311大地震後,深知災後重建之苦的學員們成立重建團,到日本去協助災後重建,幫忙災民修建房屋,將習得的木工技術投入到實際行動中。

在大武山與太平洋之間,曾經以山為友、以海為伴的原住民似乎處處受限,大武山自然保護區和觀光海岸的設置,讓困在其中的原民進退兩難,只能選擇離開,到大都市去討生活。

南迴路因路途遙遠,真的很「難回」。難回的原因不只是空間上的阻隔,更因資源困乏,造成心靈上的距離。

要在現代社會中生存,人們需要能力和機會,對原住民來說,他們並不缺乏能力,只需要一點點機會,讓他們能在原鄉生活,和部落共存。

原住民的祖先曾說過:「大水記得回家的路,這條路我們應該讓給它。」漂流在都市的原鄉遊子,是否也找到了回家的路?!

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EN

Bringing the ­Drifters Home—Sunrise ­Driftwood Workshop

Kobe Chen /photos courtesy of Chin Hung-hao /tr. by Geoff Hegarty and Sophia Chen

In 2009 Typhoon Mo­ra­kot changed many people’s lives. Tai­mali Township in Tai­tung County was hit hard by rainstorms and landslides during the disaster, with several villages and large areas of agricultural land buried by landslides.

Mountain trees washed down the hillsides by the flood are like so many Tai­tung residents who, unable to remain on their own land, drifted away to find work elsewhere, often becoming almost nomadic. Sunrise Driftwood Workshop not only attempts to add value to pieces of wood, but also tries to restore the confidence of these human drifters.


Located in Tai­mali Township, facing the sea with the mountains as a backdrop, Duo­liang train station was once known as the most beautiful station in Taiwan. But in 2006 it was shut down due to a lack of patronage. Today the disused station presents an impressive but desolate vista, reflecting accurately the bitter and contradictory feelings of the locals.

Beauty not forsaken

While Tai­tung is set among scenic mountains and unpolluted rivers, economic development has always lagged because of the lack of convenient transportation. As a result, large numbers of people have moved out. The beautiful scenery and fertile lands remain, but the lifeblood of the traditional farming community and its culture have been lost.

Duo­liang Elementary School used to be located above the station, but in 1999 it merged with another school. It now appears abandoned and looks even more desolate than the station, with empty classrooms, scattered textbooks, and students’ graffiti still on the blackboards. Overlooking the vast Pacific, one recalls the words of ancient poet Tao Yuan­ming: “Why can’t you come home to tend the fields and gardens overgrown with weeds?”

Cheng Han-wen, current president of the Original-Love Workshop Association, has been engaged in assisting Aboriginal communities for two decades. He has been monitoring the waning population in the area since even before Mora­kot.

Cheng, former principal of Tai­tung’s Xin­xing Elementary School, noticed a serious problem with the children’s upbringing when he joined the community. With a lack of local job opportunities, most parents had to find work elsewhere, often leaving their children behind. As a result, nearly 70% of students were from single-parent families or were being looked after by grandparents.

“It’s easy for children to go astray without their parents’ guidance. At vulnerable moments, they need direction.” For the sake of the next generation’s future, Cheng became actively engaged in the community, using the resources of the school and the teachers to help the unemployed villagers learn woodcarving skills. The teachers helped to set up a website to sell their products, creating a small but adequate income for the community.

Creating employment opportunities, however, cannot happen overnight. Cheng put forward a philosophy for the children: “To enjoy my school, to love my home; to regard school as a second home.” Children received care at school that they missed out on at home, and benefited from the care of the teachers and tribal elders who tried to set examples for the children to follow.

In 2008, considering the huge cost and time involved in cleaning up fallen trees and branches after typhoons, the Forestry Bureau cooperated with Cheng to establish the Original-Love Woodworking Workshop. Tables and chairs produced by the workshop have won quite a reputation from a number of exhibitions, once selling a record 70-plus items in two days. Their efforts are aimed at reuniting families: it’s hoped that creating more local employment opportunities will encourage people to stay in their hometown.

In 2010, Cheng launched a joint venture with Tzeng ­Ching-hsien, then director of the Department of Life Sciences at National Tsing Hua University. Together they promoted a plan commissioned by the Forestry Bureau to transform several hundred thousand tons of driftwood into suitable materials for Tai­tung’s local community industries.

“We tried to rouse the people’s feelings for the land in an attempt to recreate links to past cultural experiences.” Cheng says that a number of valuable mountain trees such as Taiwan cypress (Chamaecyparis taiwanensis), Formosan cypress (C. formosensis), Taiwan incense-cedar (Calo­ced­rus formosana), Formosan michelia (Michelia compressa) and Taiwan zel­kova (Zelkova serrata) were washed down to the ocean after the typhoon. If this floating driftwood were left to rot or were burned, it would represent a waste and damage to the ecology.

The Council of Labor Affairs through their Fostering Employment Program provided counseling for management teams, training for foundation members, and subsidies. In 2010, Sunrise Driftwood Workshop, located in the disused Duo­liang ­Elementary School, was established under this program with further assistance from other sources.

Duo­liang Elementary is built along a hillside, with upper and lower rows of buildings. Four classrooms in the upper section have been opened up to form a complete production line with all kinds of woodworking equipment strategically placed. The lower row of buildings is used for a showroom and cafe with outdoor seating. Patrons can look out over the beauty of the Pacific Ocean while enjoying their coffee.

School to workshop

Above the abandoned station, using deserted school buildings and waste wood, these people are striving to achieve a goal.

“Outsiders often mistakenly believe that indigenous people are born woodworkers,” says Tzeng. Woodworking is a way of transforming natural materials in order to meet the needs of everyday living. But in modern society, many have forgotten these skills.

To help the Aboriginal workers to pick up woodcarving skills again, the workshop has adopted a system of traditional apprenticeships. Teaching is adjusted according to each apprentice’s strengths and weaknesses, making the system more flexible than the technical and vocational education system. The workshop has invited Huang Qing­tai, a former principal of Kung-Tung Technical Senior High School who learned woodworking techniques in Germany and Switzerland, to give lessons. After hearing about the training program, many who had left their homes to work elsewhere were willing to return to their hometown to learn the new skills.

Tzeng’s team designed a set of building blocks, including square, conical, cylindrical and circular shapes, allowing the apprentices to learn the woodworking techniques of three-­dimensional carving, fret sawing and woodturning. The blocks have become one of the major products of the workshop, and are especially well received by secondary and elementary school students. They’re made from a variety of Taiwanese woods, and can also serve as materials for teaching about nature.

Making the most

The driftwood products, including artistic woodcarvings and furniture, are created in harmony with the shape and texture of the wood itself. Larger pieces of driftwood go into making dining tables, benches, and mirror frames; the smaller bits are often suitable as delicate combs, cutlery, and storage boxes.

“All things by their nature are good for something,” says Tzeng. Even low-quality driftwood can find a use. They bought seedlings of a variety of butterfly orchid native to Mt. Dawu from the nearby branch office of Taiwan Sugar Corporation, and made flowerpots for the orchids from waste wood. The villagers themselves planted the seedlings, and the orchids have become a form of natural installation art for the community.

In addition to the carved wood products, the workshop has cooperated with other, larger factories to introduce a standardized manufacturing process. Building blocks, folding stools and souvenirs are produced according to templates. With stable production and good market response, their products are currently distributed in Tai­pei and Kao­hsiung through the Lovely Taiwan Foundation.

The road home

Watching the gradual progress of apprentices, Cheng’s efforts to help the community over more than a decade have finally borne fruit. There are only about 20-odd apprentices in the workshop, but as long as they can help one person to stay in the community, it will relieve the lonely souls of two persons or even more, allowing for care of children and the elderly.

“We focus not on how much they can earn monthly, but on the sustainability of the family, and the passing on of family history,” says Cheng. The workshop doesn’t aim to create a large and successful business; merely to encourage people to stay in their hometown. Parents are the drivers of their children’s development, the remedy to poverty, so a family which has its core in place—the parents—brings hope to the children.

The workshop also wants to connect with the world, sharing their warmth. After Japan’s 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, the members of the workshop set up a reconstruction team to assist in Japan. Having themselves already undergone the pain of reconstruction, they were able to help the Japanese victims rebuild their homes, applying their carpentry skills in a very practical way.

This remote community is located on Mt. Dawu and along the Pacific coast. While Aborigines have always been friends with the mountains and the sea, the establishment of nature reserves on Mt. Dawu and designation of different stretches of the coast for tourism have made hunting and fishing impossible, forcing some of the villagers to leave their hometown.

The highways present a long journey to or from the township, and many simply give up rather than trying to get home. In addition to the physical distances involved, the lack of resources and opportunities at home can also create a psychological distance from their community.

People today need both the skills and the opportunity to survive in modern society. The Aboriginals don’t lack the ability, but they need to be allowed the opportunity to survive in their tribal community.

Aboriginal ancestors once said: “The flood will remember the way home; we should let it flow.” Will these human drifters ever find their road home?

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