On Tuesday, Erika presented on Creative Placemaking and Placekeeping, and the unique contribution of arts and culture in building and sustaining communities. It was beneficial to think through more holistic ways of viewing neighborhoods, instead of simply through the perspective of economic growth and even environmental sustainability, important as these may be. This is because even if a place is growing, people might not want to live there if it is not enjoyable, and especially if they do not have a say in the ways in which art and culture is “implemented.” Collective cultural memories are necessary in creating community, and Erika shared the power of arts in disrupting and reimagining new ways of thinking. In the afternoon, we visited the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), where they discussed “green infrastructure” and their involvement in Chinatown through the “Sustainable Chinatown” initiative. It was neat to be able to see what other projects they are working on, as well as how they are implementing green infrastructure within their own building through having their own sewer recycling methods.
On Thursday, we participated in an activity to help us synthesize what we’ve learned so far in regards to our chosen final project topic. This was helpful because it both refreshed our memories of what we have learned, as well as created space to brainstorm additional questions and thoughts about the final project though the lessons and lectures we have heard. It was also good to be able to meet with our group start discussing the goal of our project, and the strategies necessary to achieve it. I also thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon session at SPUR, and seeing how think tanks look at issues across the Bay. Although they are not as involved with Chinatown, it was good to see what strategies they use while brainstorming, and we may use one of their activities for the workshop we are creating for the middle schoolers.