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Sunrise Driftwood Workshop

  • Date:2020-02-25
Sunrise Driftwood Workshop

  • Name: 向陽薪傳木工坊
  • Year of Establishment: 2010
  • Located At: Taimali Township, Taitung City
  • Did You Know That …?
  • Most woodwork artisans in indigenous communities work largely alone while creating one-of-a-kind products. Sunrise Driftwood Workshop has taken up a different approach — a collective wish to improve livelihoods by offering employment and training to cultivate precision and increase output.
  • Site 

As the sun rises over the Pacific Ocean, magnificent clouds are reflected on the sea. On the hills near the South-Link Line (南迴線) of the Taiwan Railways Administration, an eye-catching white schoolhouse faces the waters. Once a beautiful elementary school, it has now been transformed into a wood workshop by the local indigenous community.

The workshop's story goes back to the 2009 disaster of Typhoon Morakot. In its wake, the Original-Love Workshop Association (臺東縣原愛工坊協會) came to help reconstruct the community of Duoliang with support from some prominent Tsinghua University alumni. They began restoring the former Duoliang Elementary School (多良國小), buying new equipment, and recruiting staff to establish a wood workshop that would come to be named Sunrise Driftwood Workshop. With the inauguration of this workshop, the community began to realize its dream of developing a local crafts industry.

Sunrise Driftwood Workshop is situated in the Paiwan village of Duoliang in Taimali Township. In the years since the workshop was founded, it has received boosters of support and resources from the Original-Love Workshop Association and technical guidance from Huang Ching-tai (黃清泰), former principal of Kung-Tung Technical Senior High School (公東高工). Its creative and mechanical woodworking training courses have also helped local residents learn how to make good use of the workshop's industrial-grade equipment.

Of particular note is that Huang was one of the earlier Taiwanese professionals to travel to Europe to learn woodwork and has long been active in providing vocational training in this field to Taitung's indigenous communities. Truly a specialist par excellence, he is also one of Taiwan's few international competitive woodworking judges. Thanks to the help of talented specialists like Huang, the workshop's indigenous trainees are able to quickly learn the skills and techniques involved in professional carpentry.

Sunrise Driftwood Workshop is already actively producing pieces, with a standardized production line capable of taking on orders for mass production of building blocks, wooden scrollwork, and wooden souvenirs, and providing work for some 20-plus people. The workshop is also dedicated to promoting a healthy lifestyle, local culture, and environmental protection, using driftwood to create hand-crafted furniture, plant holders, and pet products.

Sunrise also has its own cafe, where its products are exhibited and sold. However, the problem is that they simply can't make things faster than they are selling them, and it takes time to accumulate the experience needed to really effectively manage materials, train staff members, and evaluate the fluctuating market.

Looking to the future, the workshop aims to expand community services and work towards self-sufficiency. In addition to training local residents and taking on orders, it is also looking to offer working holidays to people from the cities who want to come for a break in Taitung and experience woodworking. With its spectacular mountain and ocean views, indigenous heritage, and wonderful resources like the Duoliang Train Station, it is an excellent location for crafts tourism to blossom and further spur the development of this lovely rural community.