Open City: Blogging Urban Change

About the Project

Photo: Celina Su

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.

Photo: Cris Baik

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.

LES/Chinatown. Photo by Sahar Muradi.

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.

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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.

See all announcements.