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  • It's easy to forget what once stood in place of something new. After all, we respond to the shaped environment around us, not to what was there in another time. Even these people will forget where they once lived because they will no longer be able to see it.

    Neighborhood tear-downs in Shanghai were still easily discoverable on casual walks in 2005. Entire communities were visibly demolished but there were always a few households that refused to leave. Notice boards were littered with announcements of deadlines for registering housing transfers. In exchange for the prime real estate these residents occupied, the government offered housing assignments in newly constructed apartment buildings often several hours from city center. Perhaps bigger, perhaps equipped with better amenities. Still, for some people, it was too far, too difficult, too disruptive. Eventually, the last demo trucks would arrive, and the holdouts would have forfeited the housing transfer offer with no choice but to leave.

    A man has parked his bike to speak with the older couple. Is it a fellow holdout inquiring the latest status? A concerned neighbor wondering when they will leave? Could it even be a local member of "The Party" whose job is to help process transfers?

    What I loved most about this scene are the clothes hanging on the line. While everything else is dust covered, these garments are clean. They are a statement. We will endure. Life here will carry on as usual.
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