Our first destination for the day: Hing Hay Park. Hing Hay Park is the parallel to San Francisco's Portsmouth Square but for whatever reason, it feels as if they have more disparities than similarities. We arrived around 11:00am and I couldn't help but immediately notice the lack of people(let alone seniors). The space, in comparison to Portsmouth is obnoxiously small and aside from the ping-pong table and the bulletin board, there is nothing unique or fascinating about the space. Or so i thought—perhaps it is a bad idea to judge a book by its cover.
We were given a fantastic tour by Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda), which in retrospect is quite similar to CCDC as a non-profit organization focusing on property management and community development. I was told by Qing, our tour guide, that Hing Hay Park sees its most prosperous hours later in the afternoon, especially as kids get off from school. As much as I would love to see myself, I'll just have to take Qing's word for it.
The second site we visited is the International Children's Park. I consider this place significant not for its scenery, but for its story. It is a remarkable sight to see people banding together to fight for their community, and that's what happened in this park. Through 7 years of efficient advocation and undying passion, the park transformed from a dangerous hangout to a safe, open-space environment. Once again, I did not get to see the park in action as kids were in school but it is what it is.
The next two topics I'll cover more briefly as they are projects in development. First is "Green Streets," or streets modified with the intent of minimizing car usage and promoting pedestrian safety primarily through the thinning of streets. Next are the alleys, which see continuous development but remain deserted and barren. If Seattle is passionate about creating an alleyway system, perhaps SF is the best place to look.
I see promise in International District/Chinatown's community. They seem to be passionate in keeping the community their community, but questions still remain. Qing mentioned in her tour the planned extension of Hing Hay Park and while that is great, she also mentioned that the artist's charisma is sometimes valued more than the voice of the community. Even with community opposition, an artist is allowed to express as he wishes. This is dangerous—a single man should not be allowed to bypass the values of a community.
I'm going to stop for a bit and talk about co-working spaces. The idea itself is wonderful, but it also poses an enormous threat to certain communities. I'm all for co-working spaces; freelance artists and photographers need working space and it is often incredibly difficult for them to find it. I do believe though, that they should only be created in appropriate areas. SF's chinatown, and I believe this quite firmly, is not the place for it. It is essential for it to remain as a service hub and residential area for low-income people, as it is now, and the implementation of co-working spaces threaten that. Still, I'm not against co-working spaces as a whole. I believe that its effects vary drastically depending on the community it is affecting. Perhaps in I.D, it will turn out beneficial—it will be interesting to study since it just launched.
Anyway, my blog is getting pretty long so I'll try to be brief. We stopped by Seattle's main library and all I can feel is envy. There are 10 massive floors filled with people and books. Oh—and computers. Did I mention that there is a space with over a hundred computers that is completely full? I cry a little bit thinking back to SF's libraries. Still, this makes me wonder. Does Seattle have the budget to pull these things off while we don't, or do we just not budget in the right things? Oh well, at least we'll never have to walk up 10 floors to check out a book.
Alright, I'm almost done I promise. We met up with youth group "Wilderness Intercity Leadership Development", or WILD to complete our day, and I'm not going to go In depth about what they do as it is not too different from what we do at AAA. I don't have too much to say, other than that they're a great program with fantastic volunteers. Keep at it WILD!
McDonalds count : 6