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Dreams Can Come True

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Dreams can come true, especially dreams built upon sustainability and true grit. For Gordon Tsai, an important motivating factor for establishing his ‘Dream Community’ stemmed from a vision. This vision was to create a neighborhood community where art and creativity would be a daily part of the lives of its residents. It would also be based on human, social, economic and environmental programs, initiatives and actions for sustaining the ‘Dream Community’.

In the beginning

Located on Zhongxing Road, Xizhi District, within a low-lying area in Taipei City the community was easily susceptible to flooding during periods of heavy rainfall. This situation resulted in low residency preferences from investors. However, Gordon and his family decided to take a risk. They set up Songyuan Construction, which later became Dream Development initiating the first phase of Gordon’s ‘Dream Community’, with the intention of offering homes in the community to people that were unable to live in Taipei City. These residents became members of the Dream Community.

Unexpected misfortune and fortune

In 2000, Typhoon Xangsane was the worst typhoon to hit Taiwan since 1996. It took a heavy toll on farmers, the agricultural industry and Gordon Tsai’s Dream Community. Flooding caused widespread devastation. Residents were selling their homes, his dream seemed to be on the brink of collapse.
However, an odd moment of ‘divine circumstance’ occurred. Gordon came across a book on urban settlements and landscapes written by Dr. Min-Jay Kang, an urban development scholar and professor at National Taiwan University.
Dr. Kang’s case study on a sparsely populated community in Seattle, Washington and its efforts to transform the community with artistic counter-cultural events, that included the annual Fremont Summer Solstice Parade and Pageant immediately revived Tsai’s vision. He flew to Seattle to see for himself the Summer Solstice Parade and Pageant. Once there, he saw 100,000 people out on the streets having fun. He was touched by the positive interactions between the participants and on-lookers -their powerful show of belonging, energy and creativity. That experience was a ‘defining moment’ for Tsai. He returned to Taiwan determined to make his Dream Community an exceptional, dynamic, festive, cultural and artistic community, which included artistic freedom.

A Dream Parade is born

Revising his approach, Gordon created a ‘Procedure for Joining the Dream Community’s Art Village’. One of the rules for the Dream Community residents was that they had to take part in a certain number of art events each year, including the Dream Parade. In 2002, the first Dream Parade was held.
Today, the parade has become one of Taiwan’s most celebrated events. In fact, it is one of the largest Taiwan parade carnivals in the world. All the international and local resident artists participate wearing elaborate costumes and riding on floats designed from recycled materials.
His “Dream Community Cultural and Educational Development Foundation” created outreach classes to be taught to elementary and junior-high schools within indigenous communities throughout Taiwan by Brazilian samba groups and drummers. The Brazilian drum teachers helped the students to create teams that would then compete in the annual Dream Parade.

A dream comes true

Gordon Tsai achieved his dream to create a community where the core values of art and creativity would be a part of the daily lives of residents and visitors. As a visionary and generous community leader, Tsai has created an urban community project that integrates and redistributes resources in the community through public art activities, theatre presentations, workshops, music classrooms, coffee shop, public art spaces and festival performances like the Dream Parade. His dream, now a reality, reaches out across Taiwan and the world.

A dream comes true

Gordon Tsai achieved his dream to create a community where the core values of art and creativity would be a part of the daily lives of residents and visitors. As a visionary and generous community leader, Tsai has created an urban community project that integrates and redistributes resources in the community through public art activities, theatre presentations, workshops, music classrooms, coffee shop, public art spaces and festival performances like the Dream Parade. His dream, now a reality, reaches out across Taiwan and the world.

sue babcock

Suzan Babcock is a long-time resident of Taiwan. During her stay here, she has managed four successful careers in education, cross-cultural relations and counseling, although being a mother has been her favorite.

Images:

Sue Babcock

The Dream Community

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