Taiwan Bloggers Organize To Save Losheng Sanatorium

The following information was based upon a report at Coulloud on March 16, 2007.  This is an example of how individual bloggers can come together to form a coherent and powerful social force.  But it also showed that they still needed the mainstream media to get their message across.

At the background is the planned dismantling of the old Losheng Sanatorium in order to make way for a mass rapid transit system construction project by the Taipei City Department of Rapid Transit Systems.  The Losheng Sanatorium had been constructed in early 20th century to house leprosy patients.  Many of the leprosy patients would stay on at the sanatorium even after they are no longer infectious, because this is the one part of society that would not reject them.  Therefore, these residents are reluctant to move elsewhere.  A group of young students have been staging protests to save the Losheng Sanatorium.  For further information, see Save the Losheng Sanatorium for the Lost Soul and Taiwan: bloggers act on saving Lo-Sheng Sanatorium.

Early in March 2007, it became clear that the central and local governments intended to push through their project by virtue of their authority.  The bloggers began to set up a loose network to report on the various facts, reflections, and theories about the Losheng Sanatorium.  Although as many as 200 blogs were involved, the  mainstream media paid no attention to the blogs; if anything was said about the Losheng Sanatorium, it was to smear the preservation movement; otherwise, the mainstream media kept busy on the gossip about Hon Hai Precision Industry boss and Taiwan's richest man Terry Gou's quest to find the perfect wife.

On the evening of March 14, the blogger Wenli wrote a blog post that deftly summarized the various options, which were summarized in the form of three illustrations -- the way Losheng Sanatorium used to be; the way it is now; the 40% solution promoted by the government and the 90% demanded by the Losheng residents.

Original site of Losheng Sanatorium

Current situation at Losheng Sanatorium

These illustrations were able to demonstrate one of the obscured aspects of the affair.  According to the Lost Isle blogger's reckoning:

Many people asked me why the Losheng preservationists are so vehement about saying so much.  Why are we so greedy?  Aren't you asking too much with the 90%?  Can't you compromise a little?  ... The fact is that the Taipei City Department of Rapid Transit Systems had already demolished 70% of the Losheng sanatorium and put in some factory buildings.  The 90% and 41% proposals refer to the percentages that will be applied to the current site.  Even if the 90% proposal was ultimately passed, it would just be 30% x 90% = 27% of the original site.  The Department of Rapid Transit System was really after 70% + (30% x (100% - 41%_) - 87.7% of the land ... that tiny 27% was the last refuge for the sanatorium residents.

Some of the bloggers decided to start a "NT$100 each to launch the Save Losheng campaign onto the front page."  At around 2am on March 15, some bloggers began to propose that the bloggers work with Happy Mobs to organize a newspaper advertisement.  After some intense discussion, at 10pm on March 15, HeMiDEMi brought out a page NT$100 to buy a small dream to preserve Losheng to allow bloggers to donate money.

The stated goal was NT$150,000 for the purpose of buying a half page advertisement on page A3 in Apple Daily next Monday.  In less than 18 hours, the basic goal of NT$150,000 had already been met.  The response was so rapid that they could have probably purchased a front page (A1) advertisement.

The concept, research, soliticitation, planning and networking of this social advertisement were completely done by the bloggers themselves.  This is a collective effort in which the process may be more important than the result.  The purpose of the activity was stated thusly: "Through the solicitation of donations, we want the voice of Losheng to appear in the mainstream media through the advertisement, so that more people will learn about the 90% proposal and possibly engage in public discussion.  We also want the media to recognize that the social force known as bloggers is not limited to personal feelings and interests."

Relevant Link: 我寧願這些都不必要發生  HOW's Sketchbook