Zhu Guoping has worked as a residential community head in Shanghai for 26 years. The 40-year-old community with its rows of six-story walk-ups appears on the surface to be no different from countless others like it that make up much of the city's living spaces.
But what makes it unique is that most residents have lived in the Hongchu community in Changning district on Hongqiao Road for decades and are unwilling to move elsewhere owing to its pleasing environment and the harmonious relations among neighbors. Even though its housing price per square meter is several hundred yuan higher than neighboring options, residents are enamored with the place.
The residents attribute much of this to Zhu, who describes herself as a security guard "looking after people's peaceful and happy lives".
"Everyone, no matter whether he or she is a senior official, professor or factory worker, returns home to the residential community after a full day's work. My job is to try to find solutions to residents' headaches in the neighborhood and make everybody happier," said Zhu, a deputy to the National People's Congress for 11 years.[Special coverage]
The headaches she has tackled in the neighborhood seem to reflect societal changes taking place. Back in the early 1990s when she took the job, she made two changes: building a phone booth and making bicycle parking facilities available.
At the time, home phones were still not commonplace and there was no public phone booth in the community, so residents had to walk considerable distances to other communities and wait in line, she said.
Also, there were no parking facilities for bicycles so residents - even those who lived on top floors - would carry them up and park them in front of their doors, which created a mess in the corridors.
"To win trust and cooperation from residents, I have to both understand and care for their demands. If they see that you can help them solve problems, they will respond to you with more support and positivity," Zhu said.
She has established three personal rules.
First, she must visit each of those hospitalized, all newlyweds, and anyone who has had a family member pass away in the neighborhood of 1,000 households.
Second, she must regularly visit each senior resident who lives alone or is under financial pressure.
Finally, she must respond to each suggestion from residents in a timely manner.
Over the years, the public phone booth has been replaced by the ubiquitous mobile phone. And a rising number of private cars and shared bikes have created new parking problems. Zhu seems to always be running at full throttle to help residents.
Zhu called on the public to be more caring of the elderly - who seem to be increasingly left behind, especially in the digital age.
"Many elderly residents ... have a hard time managing their lives, especially since everything from banking services, taxi-hailing, booking hospital appointments and operating household electrical appliances increasingly goes digital," she said.
Zhu suggested that a certain proportion of such services using pre-digital age technology should be retained for the elderly as options.