Open City: Blogging Urban Change
Chinatown/LES
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

Artist Feature: Kit Yan & Sometimes Home
Artist Feature: Kit Yan & Sometimes Home

In December of last year at Project REACH located on Eldridge Street, Kit Yan and poets Regie Cabico and D’Lo workshopped  2 Dicks and a Diva with an audience for two nights. I went on the second night and was impacted by the intertwining narratives of these prominent queer poets revealing what life on the [...]

The Basement Workshop Collective
The Basement Workshop Collective

This past spring, over a period of three weeks, I worked my way through the Basement Workshop Collective’s (1970-1986) archive-in-progress, currently housed at NYU’s Asian/Pacific/American (A/P/A) Institute. On a purely conceptual level, there are the romantic inclinations many of us hold about archives, the notion that as writers or researchers (or just curious people), we [...]

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.

Bloomberg’s New York
Bloomberg's New York

Does Michael Bloomberg ever wish he could go back in time? Back before his  high-profile, third-term setbacks: the Cathie Black fiasco, the unpaved streets in last winter’s blizzard, his surprisingly lackluster showing in the last election. Back to October 2009, perhaps, when New York Magazine ran its regular feature on the city’s power brokers and [...]

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.

New Chinatown Biking Coalition: Local Spokes
New Chinatown Biking Coalition: Local Spokes

Are more bike lanes inevitably better? Where should they be, and who will they ultimately benefit most? To tackle these questions in a more inclusive way, 9 local and citywide organizations have gotten together to form Local Spokes, a new Chinatown and Lower East Side biking coalition.

The New City
The New City

If it’s possible to open a museum that has no exhibition space to show work and no work to show, then it’s accurate to say: Marcia Tucker founded the New Museum in January, 1977. One week earlier, Tucker had been forced to resign from her position as curator at the Whitney Museum. She set up [...]

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 [...]

One Chinatown’s Future: a Town Hall
One Chinatown’s Future: a Town Hall

Last Thursday MOCA hosted an “Open Town Hall” called “CHINATOWN 2.0—BRINGING CHINATOWN INTO THE FUTURE.”  Appropriately, I took the Chinatown bus from Sunset Park for the first time to get there, and blogged about that too.  For me it was a chance to update what I’d been reading and hearing about Chinatown since 9/11, first [...]

Void Memorials
Void Memorials

Void Memorials by R.A. Villanueva and Cristiana Baik You walk between Worth & The Church of the Transfiguration, lost among the pictograms and calligraphies, thinking of oyster sauce. Every backalley will seem to split into thirds. The walls around you lurch, larded with signs. Flowers and nightgowns dry on the escapes. An elderly man spits [...]

Chinatown Vans
Chinatown Vans

Recently, my friend Diana and I decided to take the Chinatown van from Manhattan’s Chinatown to Flushing.  It was the first time for both of us, although Diana’s mom, who lives in Flushing, regularly takes the vans into the city and swears by its convenience and record speed compared to the #7 train. Although largely [...]

Taking the Sunset Park-Manhattan “Chinatown 2.0″ Van: a Locally Globalized Journey
Taking the Sunset Park-Manhattan "Chinatown 2.0" Van: a Locally Globalized Journey

After moving to Sunset Park last August it wasn’t long before I noticed the white passenger vans flitting around dropping Chinese people off individually at various places along 7th Avenue. Soon I learned there were private van lines connecting the three main Chinatowns in Manhattan, Flushing and Sunset Park. These companies filled a need for [...]

Transportation
Transportation

transportation noun DEFINITION: 1. conveyance of somebody or something: the act or business of carrying somebody or something from one place to another, usually in a vehicle 2. means of traveling: a means of traveling or of carrying somebody or something from one place to another 3. U.S. fare or charge: the fare paid or charge [...]

Tough Cookie: For Mother’s Day
Tough Cookie: For Mother's Day

In this video post, May Wong Lee, a lifelong Chinatown resident, pays tribute to her mother– her love of different foods and travel, her ability to stand up for her children, and her strong sense of ethical responsibility.

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.

Featured Profile: CAAAV
Featured Profile: CAAAV

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 [...]

Courier-ing in LES/Chinatown: (1)
Courier-ing in LES/Chinatown: (1)

Bike messengers (couriers): throughout all parts of the city, I see them snaking through on their bikes in gridlock traffic. Their job is demanding, stressful (there is a given allotted time between deliveries, and if those time constraints are not met, that means no commission), and very often unappreciated. Yet the combination of their adept [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Follow the Lions
Follow the Lions

Using urban sociology and video to study the role of lion dance groups in the cultural revitalization of Manhattan Chinatown.

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.