Open City: Blogging Urban Change
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Artist Feature: Shared Stories- A Youth Project of the Chinese Progressive Association
Artist Feature: Shared Stories- A Youth Project of the Chinese Progressive Association

In August, I had the privilege of meeting participants from Shared Stories, a program sponsored by the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA) that educates and encourages youth to document immigration stories. In our time together, we talked about the power of the spoken word, our experiences as first and second generation in the US, and the [...]

Behind walls and doors, homes without ceilings
Behind walls and doors, homes without ceilings

Annie Ling’s photo essay on the residents at 81 Bowery, published in the New York Times, struck a chord. What stood out most to me was the residents’ resilience, their communal lives, and their attempts to retain a sense of dignity as they worked to eke out a better life for family members back home. [...]

Sun in East River, 8am
Sun in East River, 8am

A welder’s mask A jeweler’s Braille 100,000 fireflies

Remembering Public School 42 in the 60s and 70s
Remembering Public School 42 in the 60s and 70s

In this video post, May Wong Lee shares two collections of remembrances about attending Public School 42 in the 1960s and 1970s, especially beloved traditions they had back then– namely, crab soccer, the knish man, and pickles. In the second video, she discusses some of the pedagogical styles and teachers who made the most difference [...]

Palimpsest Palaces
Palimpsest Palaces

Developers and planners try to make the city anew, to profit off the new venture and the new image, but despite their best efforts, they do not achieve total erasure. There are dust lines left behind from the furniture or appliances, brick foundations between the steel beams, old scribblings or serrated stairlines where the wall paints stopped… So we hope with the old Chinese-language movie theatres, the banks where we performed recitals, these spaces that have reincarnated so many times before.

Our Forefathers Were Paper Sons
Our Forefathers Were Paper Sons

In this video post, two New Yorkers talk about how the first immigrants in their families to become American citizens were paper sons, claiming that they had ties to existing Chinese-American families.

Ashkenazi Jewish-Chinese Borderlands
Ashkenazi Jewish-Chinese Borderlands

Cross-cultural connections between Ashkenazi Jewish and Chinese residents on the Lower East Side are anything but new, and they go deeper than making Chinese food a Christmas tradition.

¡Basta Ya!
¡Basta Ya!

In March 2007, Bloomberg announced Sunset Park was going to be rezoned. In March 2008, the re-zoning plan for Sunset Park was announced. ¡Basta Ya!, or Rise Up! is a 34-minute educational documentary that brings together the perspectives and insights of community members, academics, and activists about encroaching gentrification and the challenges of resisting it [...]

Driving from Suburbia
Driving from Suburbia

Driving from Suburbia trees wave in Westchester. grandfather’s laundry store on the corner of 39th/Lex we got regulars – a legacy. piles of starched, white sheets in neat folded squares, like the parceled backyard the kitchen island grab the keys, hop into the spaceship Chevrolet Lumina- mom, dad, grandma, son, daughter, quiet sardines, slicked hum [...]

Dad, NYC, 1970 (Guest Post by Christine Lee Zilka)
Dad, NYC, 1970 (Guest Post by Christine Lee Zilka)

This guest post is brought to you by Christine Lee Zilka.  Christine is a writer spending a year in New York City with her husband and her two geriatric wiener dogs. She earned her undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley and her MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. She is currently an Editor-at-Large at Kartika [...]

Grand Street Bike Lanes
Grand Street Bike Lanes

Since the Grand Street Bike Lane opened in 2008, the Department of Transportation has faced slack for bad planning. Businesses along the lane, spanning from Varick Street in Soho to Chrystie Street in Chinatown, complained the bike lane was bad for business while residents of the city claimed the lane, nestled between the sidewalk and a [...]

Festival of Ideas (1): Foto-jog
Festival of Ideas (1): Foto-jog

The city. . . does not tell its past, but contains it like the line of a hand, written in the corners of the streets, the gratings of the windows, the banisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning rods, the poles of the flags, every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls. [...]

How Damaris Reyes Became an Organizer
How Damaris Reyes Became an Organizer

Damaris Reyes is Executive Director of GOLES (Good Old Lower East Side), a housing and preservation group that has worked in Loisada since 1977. In this video post, Damaris talks about two experiences that influenced her decision to become a community organizer.

Where is Chinatown? Narrative Remappings
Where is Chinatown? Narrative Remappings

Join us as our Open City project hosts an event at Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) on Saturday May 7 as part of the New Museum’s Festival of Ideas for the New CIty ! Please contact us in advance if you or someone you know is interested in being interviewed (limited space).  Please come [...]

The local M9 bus stop & Eddie Boros (1934-2007)
The local M9 bus stop & Eddie Boros (1934-2007)

What sorts of places are bus stops? In-between spaces, neither here nor there…. Yet, bus stops are where our neighbors become neighborly; the friendly become our friends—even the shirtless quirky visionaries four decades older than us, ones we could not imagine befriending in any other context. Yes, especially them. In this video post, Thomas Yu talks about growing up in Loisada in the 1980s and getting to know Eddie Boros at their local M9 bus stop, on 6th Street and Avenue B.

Growing up in Chinatown’s sweatshops
Growing up in Chinatown's sweatshops

In this video post, Thomas Yu and May Wong Lee talk about the garment factories in which their parents worked. Thomas grew up in Loisada public housing, left the neighborhood to study international diplomacy, and eventually came back to work for Asian Americans for Equality. May Wong Lee also grew up in the neighborhood, attended [...]

Brooklyn Community Board 7 meeting

Update on Rezoning Land Use/Landmarks Committee Follow up to previous discussion on potential 8th Avenue rezoning and one other zoning matter. 1) Continued discussion with community members and shareholders about the potential for rezoning 8th Avenue 2) Presentation by Department of City Planning on potential for commercial zoning on 4th Avenue north of 25th Street [...]

Past Scars/Terrain/Memory/Duration
Past Scars/Terrain/Memory/Duration

[ Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire ] Memory: a selective rattle-bin container. Shadows rather than reflections. Occurring in the background; everyone focuses on the stationary foreground. Echoes contend, constantly contracting to mediate, fill up that medium of space. Spaces-in-between: shadows as they take place of. * As mentioned in an earlier post, March 25th, 2011 commemorated [...]

Out of the Smoke
Out of the Smoke

What circuits run between Triangle 1911, Chinatown 1982, Bangladesh 2010? What fissures, shadows, and absences in and between these images, these conversations? * To paraphrase the speakers at the “Global Sweatshop” plenary of the Out of the Smoke Triangle Fire conference at CUNY Grad Center today: 1- Workers are not just oppressed. There are many [...]

Give Me Your Red!
Give Me Your Red!

This post is brought to you by guest blogger, Kayhan Irani, an artivist and an Emmy award winning writer. She believes in the liberatory power of the arts to deepen people’s engagement with social issues and transform society. She is a writer, director, performer, and facilitator. Photo by Sahar Muradi “I give you my Yellow; [...]

3/11/11: AAFE and UPROSE Sunset Park Walking Tour
3/11/11: AAFE and UPROSE Sunset Park Walking Tour

Today was a nice day for walking. After a whole lot of rain, wind, and gray gloom the other day, Murad and I walked happily in the sunshine equipped with our coffee towards 35th and 4th to meet Douglas Le and the AAFE crew made up of interns and college fellows for a Sunset Park [...]

To Seek Better Than Before
To Seek Better Than Before

Last week, there was an article in the New York Times about domestic violence in the Afghan diaspora in Queens and how women were increasingly coming forward and seeking help. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about violence (state, reproductive, domestic, economic, etc.) and responses to violence in a wide way. With the rippling revolutions [...]

Brief note on the politics of typology, mapping, demographics
Brief note on the politics of typology, mapping, demographics

As of late, I’ve been doing a somewhat long-termish study on demographic mapping, changes, patterns in Sunset Park (and NYC, in general). A few posts to come up with some of my findings, but in the mean time, I thought I would throw out some accessible online sources: An urban planner I spoke to suggested [...]

Chinatown Soundscape: Valentine’s Day Duet
Chinatown Soundscape: Valentine's Day Duet

I received this text from Jimmy on Valentine’s Day: “Come to K-TV, where only place you can find date. Valentine’s Day Duet contest, winner $1,000. Free rose if you bring friend.” I kidnapped my roommate and we hopped onto the D to 9th Ave. K-TV 39 is attached to the King’s Hotel. It’s in a [...]

About Open City
Open City: Blogging Urban Change is an interdisciplinary neighborhood blog and community project coordinated by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. Five commissioned writers, called Organizing Fellows, are working with community organizations and neighborhood folks in Manhattan’s Chinatown/Lower East Side (LES), Flushing, Queens, and Sunset Park, Brooklyn to collect oral histories and interviews, offer commentary about gentrification, neighborhood change, and produce new creative work around these themes. Read more.
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Featured Profile
CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities was formed in 1986 (formerly known as the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence) as a response to an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes both in New York City and around the country (which included violence by police officers against Asians).
They have two offices – one in Manhattan’s Chinatown (which houses the Chinatown Tenants Union, and the new Asian Youth in Action organizing project) and the Youth Leadership Project office in the Bronx – and have members from all over the city. Over the years, CAAAV’s main campaigns have focused on community-based organizing work rooted in Asian immigrant and refugee communities. Although their advocacy and organizing work is focused mainly in Manhattan’s Chinatown and the northwest Bronx, CAAAV’s work also touches upon larger issues (such as affordable housing, war, and immigration) shaping communities all over the world: “Our work is primarily centered around issues facing New Yorkers, but always with a global analysis.”
CAAAV’s mission is to organize and build the power of working-class Asian immigrants, refugees, and youth to change concrete conditions and participate in a broader social justice movement. In the past, CAAAV’s work included organizing South Asian taxi drivers, Korean women workers, and Filipina domestic workers. Several of these organizing projects have gone on to become their own organizations, such as the New York Taxi Workers Alliance and Domestic Workers United. CAAAV’s current work focus on three different program areas: Read more.

See all Featured Profiles.
Community Announcements
Manhattan CB3 Land Use, Zoning, Public & Private Housing Committee
Monday, May 2 at 6:30 pm -- Rutgers Community Center, Gymnasium - 200 Madison Street (btwn Rutgers & Pike Sts)

Brooklyn CB7, Land Use/Landmarks Committee Regular meeting
Continued discussion on potential 8th Avenue rezoning

Manhattan CB3 Economic Development Committee Tuesday, May 3 at 6:30pm -- Community Board 3 Office - 59 East 4th Street (btwn 2nd Ave & Bowery)

Read more.

See all announcements.