AAWW’s OPEN CITY: Blogging Urban Change is an interdisciplinary neighborhood blog and community project coordinated by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop (AAWW). 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.
We have selected these three diverse New York City neighborhoods as an urban triptych, telling a story not only about the Chinatowns they host, but, because of their multi-racial, immigrant, and multi-ethnic South, West, and East Asian populations, a larger narrative about a city undergoing radical transformation. These neighborhoods do not present a complete picture of the Asian American urban experience, but reflect a constellation of sites with great internal class, race, ethnic, and language difference, leading to conflict over land use and gentrification issues. Stretched across lower Manhattan where Asian immigrants and Asian Americans first established communities in the city, northern Queens where densities of Korean, Pakistani, Indian, and Chinese live in the city’s most Asian borough, all the way to Sunset Park in South Brooklyn where concentrations of Latin American and Asian immigrants live and work amidst concerns of Park Slope development spillover, Open City seeks to unearth critical, creative, and fresh perspectives about gentrification.
Our Organizing Fellows are: Cristiana Baik, Jerome Chou, Deanna Fei, Peggy Lee, and Sahar Muradi. We also have a multi-lingual mix of students, academics, non-profit workers, and artists acting as volunteers and advisors. Open City is also working in conjunction with the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA). This collaboration will engage the public through documentary oral history, public forums, social media, and the arts to generate on-the-ground perspectives on gentrification and neighborhood change in New York Chinatown and beyond. We hope that Open City will act as a model for community and research-based cultural work seeks to creatively bring together the world of new media and blogging with local, place-based activism and the everyday life of neighborhoods.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are the views of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop.