About Us

Community-based Narratives and Public Experiential Engagement for Cultural and Historical Heritage Conservation and Revitalisation of Yim Tin Tsai, Sai Kung

Nature and purpose

This project is an action-based research on the cultural and historical heritage conservation based on spatial-temporal comparison and storytelling approach with a multi-sensory component in rural environment in Hong Kong. Yim Tin Tsai is the subject site of this project because of its unique and valuable cultural, historical, religious and ecological assets. The island was once a prosperous Hakka village community with rich and diversified resources of local culture, livelihoods and human activities. Following the transformation of village landscape across the period of change and development, there are different tangible cultural and historical heritage and stories, some of which have been either retained physically or hidden among villagers. The relatively recent village revitalisation and tourism development have unleashed the potential values of some of these assets although visitor impact might have imposed some conservation risks and management issues to the island.

To conserve the island’s culture and historical heritage, the use of storytelling and narratives is an effective approach to identify, capture and compare the past-present changes. Through community-based engagement with the villagers and stakeholders, the project can generate valuable records and information about culture and history of Yim Tin Tsai. The villagers can recall the island’s culture and livelihoods, i.e. villagescape and experiencescape from the perspective of multi-sensory experiences – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch – which act as a component of the narratives. These outcomes provide an important foundation for sustainable community development and countryside revitalisation for Yim Tin Tsai and other rural areas in Hong Kong.

This project incorporates academic research about cultural and historical heritage conservation, community-based engagement and multi-sensory visitor experience. The sources of academic foundation will be provided through literature review, records and materials provided by the villagers and local stakeholders, primary and secondary information in the project activities conducted by Project Team and collaborators. The project outcomes will result in positive synergetic effect on countryside conservation and revitalisation in Hong Kong with previous Hong Kong Tourism Commission’s Yim Tin Tsai Arts Festival – a success story of triple sustainability-conservation-development connection.

The provision of knowledge and practical case are shown in the following aspects:

  • Ecological & landscape conservation (village storytelling and narratives)
  • Rural culture & heritage protection (tangible & intangible)
  • Village community participation (collaboration between institution & village)
  • Cross-generational engagement (planning and participation of experiential activities by youth group and volunteers)

Community-based Narratives &
Public Experiential Engagement

Village and rural environments are changing cultural landscapes providing tangible heritage and hidden values for conservation and revitalisation. Based on a community-based narrative approach and public experiential engagement, this research project aims to generate valuable records and information about the culture and history of Yim Tin Tsai, Sai Kung.

"Public Experiential Engagement" is a term widely used in various fields. For this project, our engagement will take the form of various activities, including sharing sessions, workshops, as well as historical and cultural tours. These events will enable the general public to have more colourful and immersive hands-on experiences, while also meeting the demands of rural conservation. On the one hand, It is also a positive process of mutual benefits. Through these activities, this project will convey the value of rural cultural conservation to the public. On the other hand, the public gains a multi-sensory and exciting experience through interaction and participation in the activities, meaning that both the project and the public meet their individual goals.

*Reference: Olson, B. D., Cooper, D. G., Viola, J. J., & Clark, B. (2015). Community Narratives. In Handbook of Methodological Approaches to Community-Based Research: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods. Oxford University Press.

“Community-based narrative” refers to the process in which members of a shared background tell stories about their unique culture, identity, beliefs, and values. Based on the stories of different people in the group, a "community story" is created. Together these individual and collective story memories form the basis of a group or community's identity (Olson et al, 2015). Our project selected Yim Tin Tsai, a small island with both Catholic and Hakka cultural beliefs, as our research site. This project assembled stories from different generations of villagers and stakeholders to reinforce their identity recognition across time and space while promoting cultural inheritance. At the same time, the public can, through these many narratives, know more about the history and culture of this nearly 300-year-old Hong Kong countryside community.

Countryside Conservation Funding Scheme

This project is funded by the Countryside Conservation Office (CCO) and Countryside Conservation Funding Scheme (CCFS).

The Countryside Conservation Funding Scheme was launched by the Countryside Conservation Office (CCO), deploying $500 million (under a non-recurrent account) from the $1 billion which was earmarked by the government to support countryside conservation initiatives implemented under the CCO. The funding will be utilized to provide financial aid to support the cooperation between local non-profit organizations and villagers, preserving local remote countryside areas (except Lantau Island), and promoting diverse and innovative preservation activities (Environmental Protection Department, 2022).

The Countryside Conservation Funding Scheme (CCFS) currently support the listed projects as below:

  • Nature Conservation Management Agreement (MA) projects
  • Formulation of Proposals on Restoration of Built Heritage (BH)
  • Cultural Rehabilitation/Revitalisation (CR) projects
  • Research Activities (RA) on Countryside Conservation and Revitalisation

The project applied for a funding scheme from the Secretariat of the Rural Conservation Funding Scheme (CCFS) in 2021 and was awarded a grant of $2,632,500 under the Cultural Rehabilitation/Revitalisation (CR) projects in the same year.

For more information about the Countryside Conservation Office (CCO) and Countryside Conservation Funding Scheme (CCFS), please click here to access the webpage of the Environment Branch, Environment and Ecology Bureau.

Project Period

1 January 2022 to 30 June 2024

Key Objectives

  • To understand the in-depth narratives and experiences of cultural and historical heritage in Yim Tin Tsai, which can become a pioneer and successful case for sustainable community development for Hong Kong village and rural environment;
  • To record and map the hidden narratives of local Hakka culture, livelihoods and villager activities in Yim Tin Tsai for conservation, revitalisation and sustainable countryside development through a community-public engaged process;
  • To understand the perception, impression and experience of visitors in response to village stories; and
  • To engage villagers, local community stakeholders and general public for fostering conservation and trans-generational values of Hong Kong countryside

Project Activities

  • Community-based and public-engaged identification of cultural and historical narratives;
  • Collaboration with villagers to provide active participatory activities for cultural and historical heritage conservation;
  • Revitalisation with local community to organise cultural and historical story walks in Yim Tin Tsai for the public and local non-governmental organisations for disabilities; and
  • Research about visitor experience through participant observation, questionnaire-based surveys and interviews about organised tours and activities

Research Outcomes

  • Maps and routes of Yim Tin Tsai cultural and historical narratives and multi-sensory stories;
  • Experience sharing through seminars and workshops; and
  • Research reports including practical reference on heritage conservation and multi-sensory experience, academic paper(s) and sharing leaflets to the public

Project Team Members

Pro-Vice-Chancellor/Vice-President, CUHK
Prof.SHAM Mai Har
Project coordinator
Department of Geography and Resource Management, CUHK
Prof. CHAN Chung Shing Johnson
Department of Geography and Resource Management, CUHK
Prof. MARAFA, Lawal
Associate Professor, Division of Humanities, HKUST
Prof. CHEUNG, Siu Woo
Senior Research Assistant/Project Manager
Department of Geography and Resource Management, CUHK
Mr. SHEK, Kwo Fung
Project Assistant
Department of Geography and Resource Management, CUHK
Ms. LU, Yu Yin
Department of Geography and Resource Management, CUHK
Mr. YEUNG, Tsz Chun Arthur

Contact Us

Our project will conduct a series of activities in the coming 2 and half years, such as villager consultations, workshops, narrative tours, etc, with the goal of preserving the cultural heritage, the publicity of countryside preservation and expanding awareness of it around Hong Kong.

Together, we are looking forward to:
Collecting the fragments of scattered time and space, piecing the puzzle of the past into the story of the present;
Immersing ourselves through multi-sensory experience in the history of Yim Tin TsaiThrough salt and simple living, we find peace and fulfilment together.