Open City: Blogging Urban Change
To Seek Better Than Before
By Sahar Muradi


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 across the Middle East and North Africa, with the worker protests in the Midwest, with the diluted response to Charlie Sheen’s misogyny, with the long and accepted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the wars in this city over land and resources: what’s that bleeding line between condoning and refuting abuse?  In your habits? In your purchases and applauses? In your posture on the subway? In how you interact with the people and environment around you? What do you do on a daily basis to inhabit your power without usurping another’s?

And I’m especially thinking of violence today, March 8th, the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. A day in the month of the anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. I’m thinking of our intertwined histories of struggle. And I would like to honor for a moment this body that I have in this space that I occupy with this blank page that I can write what I think, and the possibility of this moment on the shoulders of so many others.

And in the spirit of responding to abuse with an imaginative hand, here’s a cut-up poem taken from the words of the Times article on domestic violence:

Thrilled at the prospect
Like a servant
Who often looked
But broadly accepted
Living like that
Far from home

These measures may not feel
To live with
To live with

A quiet life

The presumption falls
I was bad,
The cause of injuries,
A nightmare

We have disrespect
Despite faith
Despite culture

To leave
To remain
To seek
Better than before
A new home
To live with

To live with

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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.

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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.

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