As a resident of North Beach, walking to CCDC's office on the outskirts of Chinatown for the past six weeks has been rewarding. I've had the opportunity to observe Chinatown outside of what I had already seen growing up and to support many local food establishments.
This past Tuesday, as I prepared to participate in a pedestrian safety focus group at the historic I-Hotel, I was excited to interact with seniors who can share a different perspective and experience of Chinatown. As an able-bodied and young healthy individual, I do not often think that Chinatown’s steep hills affect its senior residents or that I have the ability to quickly cross the street without the fear of being hit by a vehicle. While listening to my group of seniors share about their daily activity, I am reminded of why it is crucial to include everyone in the community at the table when talking about or making decisions on community development. For example, they share that it is dangerous for seniors to cross Kearny going up Jackson St. because many cars make right turns without looking out for pedestrians. However, they use Jackson St. most often to walk up to Stockton St. for groceries or restaurants because it's convenient and gives them access to all other parts of Chinatown such as Broadway.
These seniors may seem shy or quiet, but their everyday experiences in Chinatown inform organizations such as CCDC on how they can continue to support Chinatown residents. They most definitely informed me on how much they can contribute to what makes a community. In essence, they are a Chinatown asset because they see and experience Chinatown in a very different way than someone like me who visits Chinatown for groceries. Participating in this focus group was worthwhile on a late Tuesday afternoon because I gained an understanding of their daily Chinatown experiences.