Week 10: Think!Chinatown’s Stakeholders Meeting, Interviewing Chinatown Residents at Forsyth Street, & Continued Public Plaza Surveying

Jun 07, 2022

Hi everyone!

I have had a super busy week and there is a lot to read in this week’s post. 

On Tuesday, I attended Think!Chinatown’s Stakeholders Meeting. There were Chinatown business owners, neighbors, former residents, people involved in revitalizing the Chinatown community, and the board of Think!Chinatown. I was there to record notes on what was said during the meeting and was able to see all the data that Think!Chinatown has collected for the Commercial District Needs Assessment (CDNA) so far for the first time. It made me smile that I was involved with collecting some of the data and research for this project. The one and a half hour event was broken into a thirty minute presentation section and then two sections of breakout groups to discuss and hear other perspectives on what should be included in the CDNA and ways to help and support Chinatown.

I was in the breakout group for the discussion with Merchants. The group consisted of current and former business owners and community organizers in Chinatown. Topics that came up were community and business safety as well as discussion of maintenance of nightlife in Chinatown. The issue of the impact of the pandemic and state of the economy on the global supply chain was a major discussion point. The current inflation of the price of raw materials has forced business owners to raise the prices of the goods they sell. Another issue discussed was the fact that many businesses in Chinatown do not accept credit cards and rely on cash payments. People at the meeting spent a good time listing out solutions to make sure that those small businesses can get the assistance to expand their payment options. 

The second session I attended was at the Consumers table. I listened to community members and attendees as they brought their opinions and perspectives on what the Chinatown community needs in order to be revitalized and draw in more young people to come and visit. A common voiced opinion was that Chinatown needs more cultural activation and publicity to draw in visitors and strengthen the community’s connectivity and bond.

In regards to the Public Plaza study that I wrote about last week, I did an hour of the Behavioral Mapping Tabulation at 12:00 on that same Tuesday. It was 94 degrees that day so there weren’t many people interacting and out and about on the street and on the plaza.

While I still have a few more of those Public Plaza surveys to do, I also was assigned another task. On Friday, I helped set up a table on Forsyth Street with a Think!Chinatown volunteer and we conducted interviews with Chinatown residents and visitors on their experience with the Public Plaza and with the street vendors on Forsyth Street. Since I only speak Cantonese, I was super thankful to work with a volunteer who was fluent in both Cantonese and Mandarin. Sitting out in the heat with no shade, we were crowded by excited Chinatown neighbors who were eager to fill out our five minute interview survey. We asked them about their shopping experience in Chinatown as well as addressed issues like community safety and what kind of programming they would like to see in the neighborhood more. It was two hours of nonstop visitings by neighborhood aunties and uncles who gladly lined up and talked to us in exchange for a very nice package with masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. Although I was really nervous about this survey because I often worry that my Chinese is not that great, I was able to listen and hear the perspectives of residents. Many voiced that they desired more security in the neighborhood and were grateful that Chinatown businesses offered affordable fruits and vegetables.

After the nonstop work on that Friday afternoon, I helped Think!Chinatown set up for their Night Market. I even convinced my younger brother to be a volunteer! If you have been reading my posts, you know that the Night Market was unfortunately canceled on May 20th because of a rainstorm. Luckily, it got rescheduled! I was so happy to see so many visitors at the Night Market and community members listening to music, ordering food from vendors, and enjoying being in Chinatown. There was sugar painting, traditional Chinese dancing, and so much more. I even ran into one of my former instructors who taught me when I went to a Chinese cultural school on the weekends as a kid. Think!Chinatown is hosting more installments of the Night Market this summer and I highly recommend that people come check it out sometime this summer!

It is hard to believe that this project is wrapping up! I have two more days of the Gehl surveying (Behavioral Mapping Tabulation Surveys) and one more day of interview surveys that I wrote about two paragraphs above. I have started my draft for my final deliverable and am starting to make a presentation for my Senior Project Presentation on June 16th. 

Like always, thanks for reading!

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