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FoundFutures: Chinatown

Community Futures Initiative Report submitted to the Hawai‘i Arts Alliance 3 December 02007 Prepared by: Jake Dunagan & Stuart Candy

Contents I. Executive Summary … p. 3 II. Background A. FoundFutures … p. 5 B. FoundFutures: Chinatown … p. 5 C. Project Timeline … p. 6

III. Alternative Futures for Chinatown A. McChinatown … p. 7 1. The Scenario 2. Illustrated Narrative of Street Installation B. Green Dragon … p. 11 1. The Scenario 2. Illustrated Narrative of Street Installation C. The Bird Cage … p. 16 1. The Scenario 2. Illustrated Narrative of of Street Installation

IV. Gallery Exhibition … p. 22 V. Chinatown Futures Workshop A. Brief Overview … p. 23 B. Narrative and Analysis … p. 24 C. Alternative Futures … p. 25 D. Transformation and Preferred Futures … p. 25

VI. Conclusions … p. 27 VII. Appendices 1: Original proposal draft … p. 28 2: Alternative Urban Futures Exhibition-- Artist Statement … p. 30 3: Credits and Acknowledgements … p. 31 4: McChinatown Websites … p. 33 5: Direct participant responses … p. 35 6: Alternative Futures Exercise—Instructions and responses from each group … p. 37


Executive Summary This report presents an overview and analysis of FoundFutures:Chinatown, a futuresoriented community dialogue initiative created by Jake Dunagan and Stuart Candy which took place in Honolulu in October-November 02007. The project was funded in part by the Hawaii Arts Alliance and this report is submitted in fulfillment of the requirements of the award. The centerpiece and culminating event of the project was a community workshop exploring Chinatown’s past, present, and futures. It took place from 12-4pm on Saturday November 17, 02007 at the Arts at Mark’s Garage. To set the stage for this workshop within the community, FoundFutures worked with multiple teams of designers and artists to create and execute several distributed installations throughout Chinatown (see Appendix 3 for full project credits and acknowledgments). These included artifacts and images manifesting aspects of distinct alternative futures. Following the “ambient” display of the scenarios on the streets, buildings, and visual environment of Chinatown, as well as supporting materials on the web, FoundFutures assembled these artifacts and images and produced a gallery exhibition as part of Alternative Urban Futures at the Arts at Marks Garage from October 23-November 17. We are pleased to note that both the workshop, and the FoundFutures community art intervention which led up to (and helped promote) that event, were very well received and appear to have succeeded in their goals. From feedback both formal and informal we gather that participants were indeed challenged to think more carefully, systematically, and creatively about the possible futures of this fascinating neighborhood. The workshop participants offered stimulating reactions to our scenarios, and we’ve learned a great deal about the area from our interactions with the environment and a wide range of constituents along the way. These lessons and new knowledge will also inform our “Bright Ideas” (Audiowalk of the Futures) project as we develop it further and search for enabling funding. Among the most common themes recurring throughout this project, detailed in later sections, is that the only “authentic” Chinatown is the one that exists in our personal and collective imagination. Massive changes have occurred over the course of time, radically altering the landscape, the built environment, and the demographic composition of the area. While some wish to retain the cultural and architectural landmarks that they feel give Chinatown its unique character, others believe that change itself is what Chinatown is about, and conclude that little need be done to fossilize one particular phase of the process. These competing attitudes were brought into sharp relief over the course of the project, especially in the reactions to our street simulations of alternative futures for Chinatown. Also, having spent a significant portion of time thinking about, walking around, and interacting with the urban landscape and streets of Chinatown, we have been struck by how the common reputation of Chinatown as dirty, dangerous, and unsightly has not caught up to present reality. While homelessness and public intoxication remain visible,


the streets are remarkably clean, most buildings well-kept, and the atmosphere nonthreatening, day and night. In fact, many people we’ve talked to lament what they see as loss of character during the last few years, regarding the heightened police presence and influx of hipsters as a nuisance, and yearning for the “good old days” of a grittier, edgier Chinatown. It can be safely concluded that the FoundFutures:Chinatown project created substantial community interest, and some controversy, within Chinatown and beyond. Without taking a stance on which particular direction to choose, it challenged the community to address several driving forces affecting the area and to engage in public action to pursue preferred futures. The project also garnered several articles in the local press and on the web, including front-page coverage in the Honolulu Advertiser. This public attention, although occasionally misinterpreting the intentions of the project, was ultimately beneficial as we were able to use it to expand the conversation around the deep fears and hopes about the future dwelling in the community. It is our hope that the FoundFutures:Chinatown effort will serve as a springboard for an ongoing, in-depth conversation in which the multitude of voices that make Chinatown the remarkable place it has always been will continue to be heard. If the response we’ve had so far is any indication, this is already happening.


Background FoundFutures FoundFutures injects futures into the present. It is a multimedia, collaborative project based on the idea that a wider range of possible futures should be made visible and thinkable to people in their everyday lives. It aims to provoke thought, conversation, and action by creating and distributing art, artifacts, images, performances and other media that embody possible worlds to come. Truly useful futures work has always been innovative and provocative, challenging its audience to venture beyond the "crackpot realism" of the present. Yet it should also be as affective and immersive as possible, engaging the brain, body, and surrounding environment in a full experience of the scenario at hand. Quality foresight -- including for instance the myriad reports on major hurricane risks to New Orleans -- is futile unless it can mobilize timely and appropriate action, at the individual, organizational, and social levels. A new breed of design-oriented futurists (and future-oriented designers) is experimenting with groundbreaking methods to bring futures to life. They don't merely describe, but actually manifest, alternative possible worlds in your brain, in your body, and on the streets. Stuart Candy and Jake Dunagan of the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies have teamed with artists, performers, and designers on projects designed to move alternative futures from the distant realm of the men FoundFutures: Chinatown FoundFutures:Chinatown grew out of two important strands of our recent work. The first was our contribution to the “kickoff” event for the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Initiative in August 02006, at which we immersed 500+ participants in alternative “experiential scenarios,” set in four different versions of the year 2050. The positive feedback and success of the Hawaii 2050 event encouraged us to develop these techniques further. The second was a "Bright Ideas" grant from the Hawaii Arts Alliance to conduct research towards producing an audio walk of Chinatown set in the future. While seeking sponsorship for the full-scale audio walk budget, we secured a small grant through the Hawaii Arts Alliance to run a community futures workshop in Chinatown. The intention here was twofold. First, to provide residents, business owners and other stakeholders in the district with a rare opportunity to reflect both systematically and imaginatively on the possible, probable and preferred futures for the area over a longer time horizon than they might typically be accustomed to planning. This was to provide them a richer context for pursuing their preferred futures, and is part of HRCFS community and education orientation as a state-mandated institution. The second aim was for us as FoundFutures project directors to learn more about the prevailing attitudes and ideas (about things including, but not limited to, the future) among Chinatown's


stakeholders. This, we felt, would help us build more informed scenarios cognizant of and relevant to the real concerns (and blind-spots) of those parties, for our ongoing work in Chinatown. Project timeline •

June 02006: Bright Ideas Award-- A Guided Audiowalk of Chinatown’s Futures.

October 02006-February 02007:Initial research phase: audiowalk and Chinatown histories and locations.

November 02006-June 02007:Project development/discussions with Hawaii Arts Alliance (Erik Takeshita and Wiwik Bunjamin-Mau). [See appendix 1--draft proposal].

August 02007:Final proposal and approval for workshop.

September 02007:Scenario development, creative direction of design, art, and performance collaborators, location scouting, production and printing of futures artifacts, community outreach.

October 5, 02007 (First Friday): Launch and performance of McChinatown scenario.

October 13-15, 02007: Installation and performance of Green Dragon scenario.

October 15, 02007: Honolulu Advertiser article, “Chinatown Pranks, with a Purpose. Section A, pg.1.

October 16-23, 02007: Installation and performance of The Bird Cage scenario.

October 23, 02007: Culmination of ambient artifacts display in Chinatown.

October 23, 02007: Opening of FoundFutures gallery exhibition, contribution to “Alternative Urban Futures” show at the Arts at Marks Garage. [See appendix 2Artist statement and appendix 3-acknowledgements].

November 15, 02007: Artist Talk at “Alternative Urban Futures” show.

November 17, 02007: Chinatown Futures Workshop, The Arts at Marks Garage.


Alternative Futures for Chinatown

McChinatown ~02010 What if Chinatown were taken over by corporate interests? A Starbucks on a prime corner of Honolulu's most eclectic, gritty, and original neighborhood proved to be a tipping point -- and a litmus test of allegiances -- in the ongoing development of Chinatown. Some saw it as a hopeful symbol of the district finally catching up with a globally connected, 21st century city; others feared the beginning of the end for independent business and local character. Against the shortlived protests of the grassroots Save Chinatown! coalition, international entrepreneurs Aloha™ Land and Water led a new wave of investment in the district. Week by week, new ventures and ubiquitous chain stores could be found opening their doors to a throng of customers. Free shuttles for shoppers from Waikiki became a common sight, and luxury lofts became the rage for a crop of young, urban professionals. Old time landowners and traditional Chinatown residents leapt at the opportunities this presented, and vacant lots filled immediately. Some in the arts community became concerned at the loss of character and uniqueness that had been a powerful attractor for artists and other "creatives" on the island. Meanwhile, new zero-tolerance policies against prostitution, drug users, and homeless persons had their effect -- complaints about these problems are now seldom heard, streets are clean, and a recycling program has been instituted, receiving high praise among environmentalists well beyond the neighborhood. There is talk of re-naming the district, in pursuit of a fresh image, also to reflect the fact that now less than 5% of residents or business owners are of Chinese background (and less than 25% of Asian descent generally). This proposal remains controversial though, and its prospects are uncertain. What is certain is that the Chinatown of today would be hardly recognizable to someone who knew it a decade ago.


Illustrated Narrative: McChinatown Honolulu's Chinatown is among the city's oldest and most iconic districts. It's a bastion of small family-owned businesses, where so far no franchise stores or national restaurant chains have opened. On Friday 5 October, the following suddenly appeared there: Large posters announcing a new Starbucks moving into a large corner building that has been unoccupied for years...

Design: Jesse Arneson

Photo: Jake Dunagan

Signs for TGI Friday's (a US bar and restaurant franchise) opening soon on a property at the southeast corner of Chinatown...

Design: Ryan Yamamoto

Photo: Matthew Stits


A banner inviting bids for luxury loft apartments, starting at $2.1 million, in one of the district's most recognizable and well-loved buildings...

Design: Mark Guillermo / Photo: Stuart Candy

Photo: Matthew Stits

That evening, members of a grassroots activist group gathered outside the supposed future Starbucks, calling on patrons of the area's monthly First Friday art walk to "Save Chinatown" from what appeared to be a stealthy corporate takeover by investment consortium Aloha™ Land and Water ( They distributed paraphernalia including flyers ("Honolulu's Chinatown: The Next Waikiki?"), postcards, buttons -- and even fortune cookies (e.g. "Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without"), and they directed concerned parties to [see appendix 4 for screenshots of websites].

Postcard design: Mark Guillermo

Photo: Matthew Stits


Honolulu Weekly Back Page, Wednesday 3 October / Photo: Stuart Candy


Green Dragon ~02026 What might become of Chinatown in a world where China is the predominant superpower? The strange dance of U.S-China relations has taken many turns in recent years. Seeking strategic advantage in renewable energy, for more than a decade the People's Republic of China has lent its prodigious industrial and diplomatic weight to the international movement to control carbon emissions and mitigate climate change. This has brought it increasing into conflict with the U.S, which, leveraging military power to protect its economic interests, has also become more vocal in supporting independence for Taiwan and Tibet. But a whole new level of tension between the U.S. and China is rising over the leak of a top-secret memo from the office of the Chinese Vice Premier. The memo outlines negotiations between China and several Hawaiian agitators, notably the radical "Sovereign Green" coalition -- a rising independence movement that rests its support base on ecological rather than ethnic affiliation. It also refers to a long-term strategy for China's role in Hawaiian affairs, including a potentially explosive proposal to back Hawaiian independence from the U.S. Essentially, according to unnamed sources, the sovereignty of the Hawaiian Islands could be recognized internationally by China and its allies, in exchange for their becoming a temporary protectorate of the PRC. Whether an olive branch or a further provocation, China's proposal for an iconic "Statue of Harmony" in Honolulu Harbor is causing great excitement, especially in Chinatown -which has for some time been a highly fashionable outpost for Chinese cultural products (from cooking competitions to immersive games). Chinatown has not only retained its status as a perennially interesting, changing neighborhood, but it is also an important local node of global power in a geopolitical climate tilted decisively in favor of the socalled "Green Dragon".


Illustrated Narrative: Green Dragon

Design: Yumi Vong

The second phase of FoundFutures:Chinatown imagines an Earth-friendly China, two decades hence. Those campaigning Hawai'i to become independent of the U.S. look to the other side of the Pacific for support, and evidence of their new allegiance begins to appear in the streets...

Art: Yumi Vong / Photo: Stuart Candy

Photo: Bram Goots

A powerful citizens' coalition behind the renewed Hawaiian sovereignty movement rallies its supporters around ecological commitments...


Art: Yumi Vong / Text: Jake Dunagan

The "Sovereign Green Manifesto" reads as follows: In Hawai'i, sovereignty without sustainability is meaningless, yet sustainability without sovereignty is impossible. Sovereign Green fights against the corrupt and irresponsible governance of the islands and all its peoples. The United States' illegal occupation, and destructive military and environmental policies must be stopped. Sovereign Green advocates independence for Hawai'i so that current and future generations may live peacefully and happily. Only with the ability to craft laws and policies in accordance with the values and conditions of these islands can we shape a nation that is righteous and responsible. In reclaiming our sovereignty, we embrace our role as caretakers of the land and stewards of our own evolution. We welcome all races, ethnicities, and beliefs. Stand with us!


In a gesture recalling the French gift in 01886 of the Statue of Liberty to the United States, in 02026 the Chinese donate a giant "Statue of Harmony" to the people of Hawai'i. This monument to international friendship (towering over vessels arriving in Honolulu Harbor, with Chinatown in the background) features Queen Lili'uokalani, the last Hawaiian monarch, holding aloft a torch with Chinese revolutionary Sun Yat-Sen, who attended school in Hawai'i. They stand upon a huge granite platform bearing the word "harmony" in Chinese, Hawaiian, and (on the side hidden from view) English.

"The Statue of Harmony" by Yumi Vong Concept: Jake Dunagan & Stuart Candy

From 13-15 October, a large framed drawing of this exciting gift was on display at various locations in and near Chinatown...

photos: Stuart Candy


Already, souvenirs of the Statue of Harmony can be found in tourist shops...

Photo: Stuart Candy


The Bird Cage ~02016 What if Chinatown were ground zero of a new influenza epidemic? Chinatown has long been haunted by tragedy. In 01886 and again in 01900, it was burned to the ground. When a deadly strain of influenza called H8N2 broke out in April 02016, this tragedy in paradise was global news; but local authorities acted quickly. Aircraft were grounded and as Honolulu's "Hang Ten Flu" took hold, the National Guard immediately quarantined Chinatown and systematically raided all residences and businesses in search of individuals exhibiting symptoms. The rapid response of authorities, and establishment of military/medical checkpoints along all highways across the island, meant that the crisis could be confined to O'ahu. Residents and visitors at risk of infection were relocated to mobile quarantine facilities in Honolulu or on the North Shore (several cruise liners were requisitioned for this purpose by the National Agency for Investigative Epidemiology, the newly established, diseaseoriented tactical response branch of FEMA). The ill were then shipped to more secure facilities on Moloka'i for treatment -- and, in one out of every three cases, burial. The "Weeping Spring" of 02016 brought tourism and most other aspects of everyday life on O'ahu to a standstill. The origins of the virus remain controversial -- at first thought to due to low-quality imported poultry, the outbreak has reportedly been traced to a security lapse at a university research facility on the island. Investigations are still underway. During the tragedy, the community of Chinatown was frozen. A high proportion of residents lost family members, and the cessation of construction, which had occurred at first from necessity, was extended while residents debated next steps. However, eighteen months later the citizenry has regrouped and, led by a newly elected, youthful Mayor C. Ballesteros, a renewed sense of shared purpose and identity is discernible. The temporary interruption in shipments and motorized traffic had the effect of heightening awareness of Hawaii's isolation, and increased calls for self-reliance. Many residents have begun cultivating their own food sources, and plans are afoot to turn a number of Chinatown streets into public gardens.


Illustrated Narrative: The Bird Cage On Tuesday, 16 October 02007, this bronze plaque appeared on the corner of Maunakea and Pauahi Streets in Chinatown, Honolulu -- testimony to the resilient response of the community to a hypothetical tragedy that would not occur for another ten years.

Photo: Stuart Candy

Chinatown has in its history been ravaged by the plague, quarantined, and burned to the ground. In April 02016, the future rhymes with bygone times as bird flu rears its beadyeyed little head. Our distributed installation played out the scenario in reverse, from the installation of the memorial 18 months after the outbreak...

Photo: Bram Goots

Photo: Stuart Candy


To the revival of entrepreneurial activity shortly after the epidemic...

Photo: Bram Goots

"Dust to Dust" flyer: Matthew Jensen

Photo: Stuart Candy

Photo: Bram Goots

"Jake Stuart" poster: Matthew Jensen


Photo: Stuart Candy

"Still Paradise": Matthew Jensen

To official notices posted by the National Agency for Investigative Epidemiology (N.A.I.E.) as the crisis was brought under control...

"Evacuation" poster: Matthew Jensen / Photo: Stuart Candy

Photo: Bram Goots


Photo: Stuart Candy

"All Clear" poster: Matthew Jensen / Photo: Stuart Candy

To impromptu messages placed in the streets by ordinary people when the outbreak first occurred...

"Missing" installation design: Matthew Jensen / Photo: Stuart Candy

Photo: Stuart Candy


Dig Deeper {date unknown} What kind of place is Chinatown if the world is transformed? As futurists we help people consider what alternative futures are available to them at any given time. This is a way of managing, but not eliminating, uncertainty. One way to do this is by testing beliefs and drawing out assumptions about how change can happen. This process is as much an art as it is a science. No one can tell every story -- what we can do is select a sample to serve as a basis for systematic, creative exploration. The stories we tell are intended to be neither purely good nor purely bad. There are silver linings in every cloud; both winners and losers in every scenario. These generic images of the future can be seen as falling into four categories -- each representing a different shape of change. McChinatown is an example of a continued growth scenario with a global, corporate flavor. Green Dragon suggests a disciplined society, the adopting of certain values and constraints-- Chinese and ecological, in this case. The Bird Cage is an instance of a dramatic interruption to business as usual, which we call a collapse scenario. Representations of these three themes are many and varied. But there is also a fourth type of scenario -- transformation. These are stories in which society undergoes a great shift, not in the direction of a breakdown or collapse, but where there is some fundamental alteration in underlying conditions -- and understanding -- whether brought about by high technology, a spiritual awakening, or a breakthrough discovery. Dig Deeper is the name of our fourth Chinatown future -- transformation. Rather than revealing it here, we encourage you to look for the signs yourself – they are already all around (and below) you. Seeds of future changes are always contained in the present, if you know how to look. This is just the beginning of a conversation in which, we hope, all of us can begin to dig a bit deeper into the futures of Chinatown, Hawaii, and the world. Happy digging.


Gallery Exhibition Elements of our ambient foresight "exstallation" formed part of a gallery exhibition at the Arts at Marks Garage called Alternative Urban Futures. It opened on Tuesday 23 October and ran until Saturday 17 November 02007.

Photo: Jake Dunagan

Art and culture critic David Goldberg praised the FoundFutures installation in his November 4, 02007 Honolulu Advertiser review: FoundFutures samples and repurposes the visual language that colonizes us today. From recognizable branding strategies to government-style posters, FoundFutures projects look at current political, ecological and socioeconomic situations and projects them forward by 10 to 20 years. "Birdcage," the story of the 2016 H8N2 or "Hang Ten Flu" flu epidemic in Hawai'i, is the most thoroughly realized. FoundFutures, led by University of Hawai'i graduate students Jake Dunagan and Stuart Candy, crafted everything from the government's quarantine zone maps to this-propertyis-condemned posters, to the 9/11-style missing-persons fliers that citizens would post in the wake of forced quarantines. The finishing touch is a tourism poster for Maui (unscathed by the flu, how?) which proudly declares that the island is "Still Paradise." Typically cinema is the chosen medium for visualizing the future. By installing elements of their projects in the urban fabric itself, FoundFutures turns Chinatown into a movie set of sorts, approaching the level of production design that goes into films like "Children of Men."


Chinatown Futures Workshop Time: Saturday, November 17, 02007, 12p-4p Location: The Arts at Marks Garage Facilitators: Stuart Candy, FoundFutures, and Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies Jake Dunagan, FoundFutures, and Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies Guest Speakers: William Chapman, Professor, UH-Manoa, American Studies, and Director, Graduate Certificate Program in Historic Preservation Jim Dator, Professor, UH-Manoa, Political Science and Director, Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies Participants: Shanah Trevenna Bronson Shimabukuro Deva Gatica Angela Ellenwood JoDee Hunt

Seongwon Park Steve Lohse Amy Brinkler Leo Campbell Rich Richardson

Martin Schwab Sally Taylor Russell McGuire Ernie Hunt

Brief Overview The culminating event of the FoundFutures:Chinatown project was a free, public workshop exploring Chinatown’s past, present, and alternative futures. Having “seeded” the district with artifacts and images from the McChinatown, Green Dragon, and Bird Cage scenarios over the previous six weeks, the workshop built upon the public response and passions generated by the ideas and the manner of their presentation. It provided an opportunity for more extended engagement and formal feedback for the scenarios. Over the course of the afternoon, we guided participants through a series of stages to deepen their understanding of historical changes that have taken place, to consider current problems and opportunities, and to find ways to imagine and create preferred futures for the neighborhood. Invitations were made directly to residents and stakeholders throughout Chinatown, and several notices appeared in local newspapers and on the web, but the workshop was not as demographically representative of the neighborhood as we would have liked. The conclusions and inferences drawn from workshop should be judged in that context. However, in our overall assessment, we have tried to incorporate feedback from the broader constituency in the neighborhood that we have spoken with over the course of the project, especially Asian and Chinese merchants, local business owners, and long-time residents.


Narrative and Analysis We began with an introduction to the workshop and had participants introduce themselves and present one word that describes, evokes, or symbolizes Chinatown for them. Foreshadowing themes that would recur throughout the workshop, the key metonyms for Chinatown involved its historic buildings, food, people, and especially its eclecticism [see appendix 5]. In the structure of our workshops, before the futures comes the past. Although “futures workshop” implies a focus on tomorrow, in order to look ahead more effectively, one must understand yesterday—in this case, Chinatown’s historical and cultural context, and the changes that have occurred over the years. Dr. William Chapman, Director of the Graduate Certificate in Historic Preservation at UH-Manoa, presented an historical overview of the district from pre-contact to the near present, with a focus on changes to the landscape and the built environment. As could be seen from this review, what we call Chinatown has undergone massive change, especially in the last 100+ years. It was striking to note, that before European contact, this deep water harbor was useless to Native Hawaiians and the area little occupied. But, it has become a particularly saturated and useful location in modern times. As Chinatown has changed over the years, in each era there have been claims to preserving its particular authenticity, but this concept is also constantly evolving. Might a Chinatown of the future, even if unrecognizable to those of us in the present, still make claims to be the “real and true” Chinatown? Next, Jim Dator led the group through a discussion of the Chinatown’s present. Most people think about the future with whatever is occupying our minds today, what Dator calls the “crackpot realism” of the present. We have found that alternative futures cannot be imagined if we do not understand and fully discuss today’s problems, as well as what should be preserved from the present into the future. We began by dividing the plenary into three groups of four participants. We then asked each group to list things about today’s Chinatown (with no specification as to the dimension of the issue) that they would like to change, and things they like and would like to preserve. The responses from the three groups were quite similar [see appendix 5]. The most common complaints about Chinatown were: • • • • •

Transportation issues (lack of adequate parking, need for alternative public transportation options). Policing (have become overzealous and harassing, i.e. jaywalking, training of rookies in Chinatown is annoying, inability to get to know local officers). Property and Housing (unfair property tax structure, disincentives for renovations, lack of residential options, homelessness). Land use and space (need better access to waterfront, more outdoor seating/green space). Lifestyle and quality of life (more nightlife AND more daylife, reduce noise and air pollution, more visitor friendly).


The most commonly mentioned aspects of Chinatown to preserve were: • • • • • •

Distinctiveness (it is NOT Waikiki, that “Chinatown” atmosphere and character, its edginess and grittiness, “Mom and Pop” and locally owned businesses, no chain stores). Diversity (economic, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, architectural). Entertainment (great restaurants, clubs, First Friday, the arts, cultural festivals). Businesses (Maunakea Market, Lei Stands) Zoning and Boundaries (no encroachment from other area, no new high-rises, protect historic buildings). Transportation (keep Hotel St. buses-only)

Alternative Futures The core activity of a futures workshop is to have participants do a bit of “time traveling,” to “live” in an alternative future for a short time and then discuss this new world with their fellow travelers and then with the entire workshop group. The alternative futures immersion in this case involved people selecting unmarked envelopes which contained one of three scenarios, about one page long each. The discussion groups formed around the scenarios selected, and here, as is typically the case in such workshops, the process resulted in people becoming "invested" in whichever future they happen to find themselves. This is not to say that they found it an optimal or even desirable future (none of the three stories elicited enthusiastic, positive responses), but they were able: (a) to see how a described scenario, which at first may appear outlandish, could come to pass given certain conditions, (b) to develop coping strategies as "residents" within their given future, and (c) to consider how decisions taken today may help pursue or avoid, respectively, liked or disliked aspects of the scenario. This last point highlights the usefulness of scenarios for practically informing present-day decision-making. For example, it is worth noting that, although there were aspects of the McChinatown scenario that participants liked (Q.5a) they overall found it undesirable (Q.4) and yet highly probable (Q.3). A structured futures approach to engaging a community in political discussion readily generates important policy-relevant insights such as this. [see Appendix 5 for full exercise instructions and transcribed group responses]. Transformation and Preferred Futures In the final section of the workshop, we asked participants to spend an extended period of time in quiet contemplation of Chinatown in 25 years. Each participant chose a guiding


metaphor of transformation (caterpillar into butterfly, water into ice or steam, phoenix rising from the ashes, etc) and imaged flying over the area around them. What has this place become? What does it look like? Who are the people (if any) inhabiting this area? Participants then broke into small groups and discussed their visions with each other, and how their chosen metaphor guided and was appropriate for a transformed Chinatown. Finally, each person wrote a short note to the future generations of the area that contained their preferred vision for Chinatown. The manner of delivery of these messages was explained to the participants and will be the final act of this project.


Conclusions The serious contemplation of alternative futures forces individuals and groups to reevaluate their position in the contingent space of possibility. If futures work is to be effective, it must make critical issues and drivers of change visible and, most importantly, mobilize decision-makers at all levels to act with foresight. Foundfutures:Chinatown was intended to raise sensitive issues within the community through the means of embodied artifacts and ambient simulations of alternative future Chinatowns in order to provide a compelling platform for community engagement and formal discussion of preferred futures for the district. As always in a diverse community, finding a single preferred future is impossible and responses to our scenarios were mixed. Many people are frightened of the loss of “character� by way of corporatization and gentrification, especially the increasing price squeeze on artists, workers, and long-time residents. There is a strong sentiment of preservation of culture, language, and the built environment (as it is seen today), but this is also contrasted by those who see Chinatown as an inherently changing place that is constantly re-inventing itself and should not be turned into a cultural and architectural museum. Some have been frustrated with the prevalence of crime and drug abuse on the streets, while others are now viewing the Police as an overbearing and unnecessary nuisance. The multitude diverging visions for Chinatown must be confronted directly and honestly. The project hoped to catalyze this discussion. The passionate reactions and involvement we’ve encountered during the course of the project is evidence to the importance of Chinatown to Honolulu and Hawaii at large, and to the commitment necessary by residents and stakeholders to creating the kind of future most in the neighborhood would welcome. We have been honored to work so extensively in Chinatown and with the people who make it the most vibrant and interesting place on the island, and hope that we have made some small positive contribution to its futures.


Appendix 1: Original proposal draft July 16, 02007 Art is a future-oriented activity. At its best, it opens up new ways of perceiving the past, new ways of looking at the world today, and new ways of conceiving possible futures. The Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies (HRCFS) and The ARTS at Mark’s Garage have joined together to initiate a unique series of activities to draw attention to and deepen our understanding of the challenges and opportunities the future holds both near and far. The project will consist of three progressive stages. Stage 1 will begin with a call for artists, designers, futurists and members of the Chinatown community to create and distribute around the neighborhood a series of ‘artifacts from the future.” These artifacts will embody (in varying media, content, dimension, and format) aspects and implications from a wide range of possible futures for the area and beyond. Posters warning against thought surveillance in the area, a monument to those lost in the Avian flu epidemic of 2029, or notices of the next ahupua’a council meeting are just some of the kinds of artifacts that might be seen around town. Building upon the lessons from earlier projects conducted by the HRCFS, these artifacts will interject possible futures into the taken-forgranted environs of the present. The anachronistic and provocative nature of the artifacts will shake viewers from habitualized patterns of thought and selective attention which blind us to the possible and distort our role in creating better futures. Although not to be announced publicly, the project will launch on Friday September 7 (First Friday), to be followed by another series of artifacts to be distributed on Friday October 5. The unexpected appearance of these artifacts are a major factor in their effect and potential success. This portion of the initiative might be called an experiment in future-shock therapy. And any good therapy requires opportunity for feedback and discussion. There will be several alternative venues for follow-up conversations and action. Each of the artifacts will lead viewers to a website where they have the opportunity to talk about their reactions to the pieces and to debate the issues generated with other viewer/participants. Stage 2 and 3 offer further opportunities for face-to-face interaction and discussion. Building on the momentum from Stage 1, Stage 2 of the project will bring all of the previously distributed artifacts (and additional commissioned work) together at the ARTS at Mark’s Garage for a gallery show organized around “images of alternative urban futures” for Chinatown, Honolulu, and the region. Opening on October 23, 02007, the show will allow for a condensed and focused appraisal of the themes generated in the works by media, critics, and the larger community. It will also be the foundation and launch-pad for Stage 3 of the project. Following the gallery show, the HRCFS will lead a series of workshops with a wide cross-section of the Chinatown and surrounding community. These workshops will


immerse participants in alternative futures, going beyond the abstract to allow them to understand change at a deep and emotional level. Business leaders, decision-makers, residents, and others with a stake and responsibility for the futures of the area will be invited to participate in these innovative workshops designed to explore the social, environmental, technological, and political trends and forces that will impact the community, to envision preferred futures within this range of possibility, and to plan their decisions and actions according to this vision. It is our goal that the successive stages of the project will stimulate wide participation in the futures conversation, garner significant media and community attention, and lead a movement toward greater sense of responsibility and involvement in the creation of preferred futures. The issues and challenges we face are not going to go away. Artists, scholars, and leaders of every stripe must find ways to engage people in effective foresight, to open our eyes to alternative futures. Foresight must be designed into the fabric of our institutions and our environment; it should be ambient and ubiquitous. This project seeks to show one way this can be done and encourage others to find new and better ways. Proposed Timeline of Major Events: Stage 1—Distribution of artifacts Series 1: Friday, September 7, 02007 (First Friday) Series 2: Friday, October 5, 02007 (First Friday) Stage 2—Gallery Show (Images of Alternative Urban Futures) Opening: October 23, 02007 The ARTS at Mark’s Garage Stage 3—Futures Workshops Successive Saturdays in October, November, and December, 02007. Conducted by the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies at The ARTS at Mark’s Garage.


Appendix 2: Alternative Urban Futures Exhibition-- Artist Statement FoundFutures injects futures into the present. It is a multimedia, collaborative project based on the idea that a wider range of possible futures should be made visible and thinkable to people in their everyday lives. The project was created and is led by two doctoral candidates in political science at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, who are also futures researchers at the Hawai'i Research Center for Futures Studies (HRCFS). We aim to provoke thought, conversation, and action by creating and distributing art, artifacts, images, performances and other media that embody possible worlds to come. Making alternative futures tangible is an antidote to the singular, colonized future we are given by mass media, consumer culture, and an intrinsically shortsighted political system. We want participants to be directly confronted with long-range choices, to feel just how different their various futures could be from the present, and from each other. We call this future-shock therapy. Our aim is not to push people towards particular conclusions, but simply to invite deeper engagement with the field of possibilities. This side of the display shows elements from an earlier foray into experiential scenarios, for "Hawaii 2050", a statewide discussion which launched in August 02006. These pieces suggest aspects of a high-tech future Hawai'i (artwork by Sky Kiyabu and Steve Kiyabu). Next, in May 02007, we sent to leaders across the community four postcards from alternative versions of Hawai'i in 02036, on consecutive days and with no return address (designed by Yumi Vong). On the other side of this panel are elements from four immersive futures designed for our first foray into community and street art – FoundFutures : Chinatown. The first future (McChinatown) was staged for the First Friday art event on October 5. Two others have been displayed since (Green Dragon and The Bird Cage). One will continue beyond this show (Dig Deeper). If you are interested in exploring the futures of Chinatown and Hawaii beyond the urgent, immediate concerns of today, please consider attending our Chinatown Futures Workshop on 17 November (RSVP to To discuss futures thinking, or specific issues raised by this distributed installation, don't hesitate to contact us. Stuart Candy & Jake Dunagan, Directors, FoundFutures:Chinatown 22 October 02007


Appendix 3: Credits and Acknowledgements FoundFutures:Chinatown Concept, scenarios and direction by Stuart Candy & Jake Dunagan McCHINATOWN Designers: Jesse Arneson

Mark Guillermo

Installation assistance: Duk Bu Brady Fern Pegge Hopper Rich Richardson Melanie Yang

Ryan Yamamoto JoDee and Ernie Hunt Roy Venters

Protesters: Guen Montgomery (lead) Jason Adams Christina Hoe Bianca Isaki Rohan Kalyan John Maus Josh Pryor Lorenzo Rinelli Matthew Stits

GREEN DRAGON Designer: Yumi Vong Additional scenario development: Aaron Rosa Cultural advisors: Roger Ames

Matthew McDonald

Translations: Chien-Yuan Chen

Tianyuan Huang

Installation assistance: Brady Fern Charles Wong


THE BIRD CAGE Designer: Matthew Jensen Additional artwork: The Great Bendango Kristin Dennis

Nathan Verrill

Installation assistance: Oren Schlieman & Fran Butera Richard Lum, Worldwide Travel Bram Goots

Tim Braden Maya van Leemput Matthew Jensen

Production assistance: Seong Won Park Special thanks to M.P. Lei Shop, providers of leis for "Hang Ten flu" memorial plaque This project would not have been possible without the support of the following individuals: Erik Takeshita Wiwik Bunjamin-Mau at The Arts at Mark's Garage Matthew Jensen

Rich Richardson

Yumi Vong

Carolyn Borges, Tom Terrific's Printers, Manoa Jim Dator, Director, Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies The contribution of the following is also much appreciated: Steve Kiyabu Chetan Mangat

Sky Kiyabu Bernard Uy

Ed Korybski

Jake Dunagan Yumi Vong

Bram Goots

Photography by: Stuart Candy Matthew Stits DIG DEEPER All our friends from future generations.


Appendix 4: Websites (Save Chinatown! and Aloha™ Land & Water)



Appendix 5: Direct participant responses A. One word that describes or evokes “Chinatown” for you: -food -walkable -potpourri -home -old buildings -landowner -home -change -hip -historical B. What would you like to change about Chinatown? • •

Tax reform -property tax—same for high rises and non high-rises, unfair -“taxes collected in Chinatown should be used in Chinatown” Transportation and parking - need 2 hour meters -easier payment options, lower cost -MORE parking -local trolleys, more public transport options -public bicycles (cf. Amsterdam, Portland) -urban core car tax (cf. London, New York) Policing and crime -too many officers, overbearing, intimidating, harassing -used as training ground—“train your rookie cops elsewhere” -too much turnover, local community doesn’t get to know officers -“we used to worry about the criminals, now we worry about the police” Housing -encourage residential living -more options -incentives for owners to renovate -mitigate homelessness, better services for homeless -“green” and sustainable buildings Urban space and place (Lifestyle and environment) -more nightlife, music, arts, food -more daylife—markets, food -better access to the waterfront (cleanest natural port in the U.S.!) -more outdoor seating, parks -reduce noise and air pollution -more visitor friendly organizing community forum

C. What would you like to preserve for the future in Chinatown? What do you like about Chinatown? •

Neighborhood street life, character, atmosphere


• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Distinctiveness, it is NOT Waikiki “Edginess,” “grittiness” Markets Lei Stands Great food and restaurants Current green space, parks Chinatown Gateway Park, A’ala skate park Building code and height zoning (no new high-rises) Historic Buildings Current “boundaries” (no encroachment from other parts of town) Non-corporate (local) development “Mixed use” zoning First Fridays, art scene Chinese new year and cultural events Cultural, ethnic, and economic diversity “mom and pop” stores Hotel Street as a bus-only way


Appendix 6: Alternative Futures Exercise—Instructions and responses from each group Welcome to the futures! Whatever you may initially feel about the future into which you have been so suddenly placed, please suspend your disbelief! You have no more control over your being in this future than you had over when and where you were born. This is your life. Love it, because you can't leave it. For the next few minutes, make the best of the future you find yourself in, just as you obviously do in the present. Don't argue over whether you think it will happen as described or not, or whether you like it or not. Please just accept it, and try to respond positively (according to whatever you think is "the best you can do") to the world in which you find yourself. Don't dwell on the "negative" aspects except to understand them, and to develop a "positive" response to them. It just doesn't get any better than this! Your task is to determine, as a group, what kind of place Chinatown would be if the future were to unfold as described in your scenario. Spend about five minutes on each of the following five questions. 1a. Who would live in Chinatown (race, age, income, etc)? McChinatown: younger, wealthy, fashionable, professional, hipster (SoHo-ish). New York/ Tokyo-style micro-sized apartments, underground (literally)—Shanghai Tunnels, Caves, cave clubs. The Bird Cage: A post-collapse scenario—people are getting back on their feet and have the opportunity to re-build. Chinatown is re-born as a vibrant gathering place, a local hub, a market center for a large section of Oahu. Have faith in the “blossoming dynamic of human activity.” Residents, although the population is much lower than 02007, are mostly those running and working locally in the markets and their associated services— builders, craftsmen, and farmers, especially. Or—a thriving quarantined ‘black-market’-based economy. Deep psychological scars? Green Dragon: Educated, highly globally aware, mostly euro/white. Young, passionate residents gravitating toward the emerging green movement in Hawaii and in Chinatown. 1b. Who would work in Chinatown and what kind of jobs would they have (if any)? McChinatown: service sector jobs servicing high-end residents, retail, food service (fastfood). The Bird Cage: Farmers, service-sector driven by the large market. Laborers, craftsmen, and farmers.


Green Dragon: Social entrepreneur-types, green activists. But also, other service-sector jobs. 1c. Who would visit Chinatown, why would they come, and what would they do? McChinatown: tourists (similar to Waikiki), tourist-oriented shopping, dining. The Bird Cage: those from around Oahu who come to utilize the central location and thriving markets in Chinatown. Green Dragon: Politically-motivated activists, those coming to the urban core for arts, entertainment, excitement. 2. What would Chinatown’s reputation be, in comparison to the rest of Honolulu, Oahu, and Hawaii? How would that affect the area? McChinatown: Disney-fied version of Chinatown geared toward tourists, greatly diminished cultural and arts scene, cultural fetishism. Urban, but “vegas-like” scene, exotic, chic, business, green, hip, globalized, sanitized. Evolving into increased valuation of historical significance. The Bird Cage: Chinatown’s reputation is restored as it rises from its tragedy, a place of re-birth. Dynamic, “green.” Green Dragon: Increasingly viewed as a green urban center, gains prestige among international environmental movements. “Green Snobbery?” Ambiguous or conflicting views because linked to China and the rising influence of China. 3. How probable (likely to actually occur) is the future described in your scenario? McChinatown: very likely, high probability. Many forces pushing toward this future. The Bird Cage: mixed responses—differing opinions. Some thought an avian flu outbreak was quite possible, but that the heavy-handed response was not. Others, that both the outbreak and quarantine were certainly possible, but not highly likely. Green Dragon: Quite probable, considering the perceived desire of China to increase its sphere of influence and compete with the U.S. in international affairs. 4. How preferable is the future described in your scenario? (That is, how close is it to your own preferred future?) McChinatown: not preferable to the group.


The Bird Cage: The initial tragedy of the “hang-ten flu” outbreak and quarantine were not preferable, but the ability to build and re-imagine a new Chinatown and ‘rise from the ashes” was somewhat welcomed. Green Dragon: Not preferable, because of the potential for rising tensions and global conflict in the wake of these developments. What is China’s motivation for “going green”? 5. What actions could be taken today: a. to help make what you liked about the future happen? McChinatown: Liked—food markets, pedestrian playground, arts. To help this, recommended a heightened preservation awareness and policies, emphasize the arts as a defining characteristic. The Bird Cage: Found that a healthy community is a flexible and resilient one. So, the same things done to recover quickly from a disaster could be done ahead of time to mitigate a disaster. So, encouraging and preserving the diversity of Chinatown is important. Green Dragon: Liked—the movement toward sustainability and Hawaii’s new role as not just a politico-military strategic location, but an politico-environmental strategic location. A ‘gateway’ to a better global environment. To help make this happen—promote socioeconomic diversity and progressive environmental policies, and to welcome green Chinese investment in Hawaii. b. to help prevent what you did not like from happening? McChinatown: Disliked—chain stores, loss of character, touristy-feel. To prevent this, recommended strong political organization, voice, and action of residents and businessowners to shape Chinatown policies and decision-making; anti-chain store ordinance; arts grants and incentives; protective regulations to maintain unique and locally-run businesses. The Bird Cage: preventative measures for avian flu outbreaks, raising awareness of public health procedures and recommendations, and informational campaigns for residents. Prevent government “overreaction”—have clear policies in place. Green Dragon: Want to avoid a U.S.-China conflict over Hawaii. To prevent this—open a diplomatic dialogue between the States over environmental policies, international relations, and Taiwan/Tibet/Hawaii issues.


FoundFutures: Chinatown  

Final Report submitted to the Mayor and Honolulu Arts Alliance. This report summarizes the activities of FoundFutures (Jake Dunagan and Stua...

FoundFutures: Chinatown  

Final Report submitted to the Mayor and Honolulu Arts Alliance. This report summarizes the activities of FoundFutures (Jake Dunagan and Stua...