Open City: Blogging Urban Change

Volunteers and Staff

Batul Abbas is a 2011 graduate of NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study with a concentration in urban planning, economics, and nonfiction writing.  She enjoys cultural fiction, yoga, and fat domineering cats.

Konrad Aderer is a documentary filmmaker and freelance producer. Much of Konrad’s independent work ( has focused on communities targeted by immigration enforcement. His work has been supported by the Center for Asian American Media, New York State Council of the Arts, the Fledgling Fund, and other grantmakers. He lives in Sunset Park, and is due to complete his Masters degree in Sociology at Brooklyn College in 2011.

Jessica Fei is a photographer and educator from Queens, NY. With a B.A. in Literature and Ethnicity, Race & Migration from Yale University, Jessica has completed numerous documentary photography projects in Cuba, Mexico, and China. She currently lives in East Harlem and leads arts-based enrichment programs in public schools across NYC.

Celina Su is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the City University of New York and a co-founder of the Burmese Refugee Project. She authored Streetwise for Book Smarts: Grassroots Organizing and Education Reform in the Bronx (Cornell University Press, 2009) and co-authored Our Schools Suck: Young People Talk Back to a Segregated Nation on the Failures of Urban Education (NYU Press, 2009). In addition to academic journals, her work has also appeared in Boston Review, XCP: Cross-Cultural Poetics, Aufgabe, and other publications. Celina was born in São Paulo, received an English and economics B.A. Honors from Wesleyan University and an Urban Studies Ph.D. from MIT, and currently lives on the border of Chinatown and the Lower East Side.

A poet and educator with a background in community arts and oral history work, Lena Sze was the 2010-2011 Project Director of AAWW’s Open City: Blogging Urban Change.  She is currently a doctoral candidate in American Studies at New York University.

Linta Varghese is a cultural anthropologist whose work has examined South Asian community groups in New York City; and the relationship between the Indian Diaspora and the Indian State.  She is a transplant from Texas, and currently lives in Brooklyn.

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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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