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CONVERSATIONS Food for thought by and for the Philadelphia Chinatown neighborhood Dinner Journal 2 - 1.17.2018 - PARADA MAIMON RESTAURANT

PCDC is a grassroots, non-profit, community-based organization.

Our mission is to preserve, protect, and promote Chinatown as a viable ethnic, residential, and business community.

about this project a visual recording + exploration of conversations across a series of three community dinners hosted by philadelphia chinatown development corporation. a shared meal &+ space for chinatown neighbors —­community leaders, business owners, old and new residents, churches and schools volunteers - to come together and share community values, experiences, and thoughts for the future of the neighborhood.

“ “""""The reason why

this dinner is so powerful is, it’''';;;;;''''''s an opportunity for us to listen to each other


-tiffany, friends of the rail park

DINNER GUESTS - David - Lighting Designer at The Lighting Practice - Gary - Lawyer, Chinatown Resident, PCDC Planning Commitee Member - Michael D. - Beaux Arts Condo Association president, - George -Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, - Carol - Asian Arts Initiative (AAI), - Woo Ho - On Lok Senior House resident, - Sau Kwan - On Lok Senior House resident, - Michael g. - Friends of the Rail Park, - Nicole - Francis House of Peace resident - Ricque - Folk Arts Cultural Treasures Charter School, - sit chun - On Lok Senior House resident, - Evockeea - Francis House of Peace resident - Vanessa - Born and raised Chinatown resident

chinatown neighborhood HISTORY:::: Since its inception, the Philadelphia Chinatown neighborhood has faced ongoing threats and push for space from urban renewal projects such as the Convention Center and Vine Street Expressway. Active community advocacy has helped the neighborhood remain intact, beginning with the founding of PCDC in 1969 to save the Holy Redeemer Church and School from demolition in order to expand the expressway. The community has grown from a few businesses to a vibrant hub of culture, arts, food, and traditions for youth, families, and older generations alike. As the neighborhood grows, Chinatown North becomes the only space to expand. Tonight, dinner guests including organization leaders, long-term residents, and community volunteers come together to speak about their neighborhood: what they love about it, what they would change, and what

actions can be done to bring these changes to life.

What makes a good neighbor? The expansion of Chinatown North is not a new topic for guests tonight. Tonight, the table discusses the challenges of the area, what it means to be a neighbor, and how a place becomes a neighborhood.


was born in South Philadelphia 92 and a half years ago.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, George has witnessed and been a part of Chinatown’s history since he helped start PCDC over 50 years ago. In terms of how to make Chinatown north a neighborhood, he believes the area needs more to draw pedestrian activity. He compares the area to Chinatown South saying, “If you were to walk in Chinatown any time of the day, there is a lot of activity. Curb to curb pedestrians. That’s what makes Chinatown a lively area.You’ve got to keep people making use of the sidewalks and neighbors.” He mentions how having more residents and jobs can lead to more of a neighborhood feel.


building is just a building. It

doesn’t become a neighborhood until you put people in it that actually care about it.

Evockeea, local resident, shares her passion for Chinatown and its smaller businesses with the table. Growing up learning about Indian culture from her father in a German Jewish neighborhood, Evockeea is no stranger to the immigrant community. Her background gives her insight on how new residents can contribute to a neighborhood. She does this in her own life by shopping at local businesses, enjoying neighborhood programming such as Chinese fan dancing classes, and just getting to know who lives around the corner, regardless of cultural or language barriers.

“ Basically

my whole life

revolves around Chinatown…. my school, my first job was here…...everything started here.” “This has been my home for a really long time.” Vanessa, long-term resident, emphasizes. One of the biggest challenges facing the Chinatown neighborhood in her opinion is her own generation. While change may be necessary for Chinatown to survive, she wishes younger residents could better

understand the importance of preserving and continuing opportunities for new immigrants, instead of only seeking profits. This mindset could positively impact change and development within the neighborhood, especially as it is expanding.

Her main motivation behind this belief? Her parents. Vanessa passionately asks, “How do we make people understand that this is beyond a business opportunity? This is a home for many people.”


reactions &+ Comments from the table

New businesses such as clubs and nightlife in Chinatown is a concern for the seniors in the neighborhood - Ms. Li, Chinatown resident “It’s really hard for us to reach out to our [Chinatown South] neighbors sometimes.” - Carol, Asian Arts Initiative “At what point are you a neighbor? If I moved into this neighborhood today….Am I a neighbor?” - Michael G., Friends of the Rail Park

“in IPhilly, think more so than any other community Chinatown IS vibrant. It’s like the

definition of vibrant. So that is what I think is missing north of Vine Street. Anything that can encourage that would be great.


-Michael d., president of beaux arts condo association

String Beans

with Fermented Bean Curd recipe serves 4

ingredients needed -

1 bunch long beans, about 6 ounces 6 tablespoons water 2-4 fermented bean curd cubes, to taste 2 teaspoon oil

directions: 1. Snap off the ends of the string beans and wash. 2. Mix bean curd cubes and water in a small mixing bowl, and set aside. 3. Heat pan on high until hot, add the oil and swirl to coat pan. Add string beans, stir-fry and cover for 1 min. 5. Add the bean curd water mixture and cover. Cook until the long beans are tender, about 4 minutes. Plate and serve.

Chinatown resident gary talks about his favorite chinese dish “I’m Gary. I’ve been in Chinatown for over 20 years, [living] in Chinatown. I’m a lawyer. My father is Chinese, my mother is Irish American. This is my favorite dish.”

a senior-friendly chinatown Long-term Chinatown residents, Sau Kwan, Woo Ho, and Sit Chun (pictured left to right above) share ideas on how we can become a more “senior-friendly” neighborhood.

Visitor parking

Sit Chun mentions her biggest challenge is limited parking close to her residents when her kids visit her in the city.

Seating in the neighborhood

The seniors take advantage of their close proximity to friends, shopping, and groceries. Walking around all day, they want more public benches and seating areas for them to rest throughout the day.

Senior-specific park programs

These seniors believe the upcoming Rail Park should be more easily accessible to them than Franklin Square. At the park, they hope for more senior specific programming such as exercise equipment or senior activities.

More access to indoor space

While On Lok Senior House provides classes such as tai chi, karaoke, and learning English — space is extremely limited. Evockeea, mentions that the 801 Arch St community room is free and has ample space for classes. Sarah from PCDC, mentions seniors can coordinate to use the space through PCDC or Project Home.

“ there’s no

parks for anyone to do anything. At [[[[8th and Vine, I see ladies doing tai chi there.

-DAVID, Philadelphia lighting designer

As the neighborhood expands, the need for green space is apparent. A series of personal anecdotes from dinner guests — from FACTs Charter School 4th graders identifying the issue every year in their neighborhood unit to one resident’s story of not being able to find one patch of grass within 6 blocks for a dog to use the bathroom — demonstrate how this affects residents on a day to day basis. Ricque, currently associate director of FACTs Charter School, shares the reactions of some of her students. “Students were disappointed. [the Rail Park] cleared much of the space, so they thought it was coming right down next to them. They were excited to have green space so close to them, because our closest green space is Franklin Square Park.” Although the Rail Park will be closer, Ricque explains that proximity determines whether teachers can make the time commitment to bring their class outside. She hopes for a closer park or space that students can simply go outside to read for a period without a 2-3 hour break from classes.

The Rail Park

As dinner conversations flow, it is clear that several guests are happy that the Rail Park will provide more green space, but don’t really know much more about the park itself.

Vanessa translates and adds, “I don’t think [the seniors] fully understand what’s going on there... Actually I don’t think I even know what’s exactly going on.” David comments that the lack of proper communication in the neighborhood prevents good ideas and news from really impacting Chinatown, making more community roundtables like this dinner a positive thing.

" It’s not a huge space. It’s under a quarter of a mile, it’s more of a place for sitting and relaxation and going for a short walk. There will be swings and there will be some programming on the site." " - michael g., friends of the rail park


What I’m interested in seeing is more housing for people to live here. I know there’s been an increase in artist space and spaces for industrial uses from Vine to Spring Garden, but not so much affordable housing units.

- gary

19 zip codes

1 neighborhood

Carol, program director at Asian Arts Initiative, shares how the lack of affordable housing impacts even the arts in the community. She explains, “It’s hard to get kids to participate [in programs] because they have to take buses to get here. It would be great for families to stay in this neighborhood.” The youth that AAI serves come from local schools like FACTs and Holy Redeemer, but that doesn’t mean they live in the neighborhood. Ricque agrees with Carol, adding that students from FACTs range from 19 different zip codes; while they see Chinatown as a “home base,” most do not physically live here.


“The reason there is not more affordable housing in the city is that it’s not affordable. How do we make [building] affordable housing, affordable?” - Michael G.

Evockeea: “If you want to see an example of [successful] affordable housing, look at Project HOME. They have buildings all through the city and it’s all affordable housing. The more available housing you have, the less homeless you have on the street.”

“There’s not enough trash cans. There is always trash around Chinatown, and current trash cans are always overflowing with trash" -woo ho, translated by vanessa

curb appeal residents want chinatown brighter + Cleaner

It can sometimes feel a little barren, it can kind of feel a little dangerous sometimes too. Which is unfortunate, granted I think it’s a pretty safe neighborhood though.� - michael d. Michael D., president of Beaux Arts Lofts Condo Association, has been a resident in Chinatown for 5 years. Now living north of Vine Expressway, he thinks that the empty lots and businesses that close early hinders the feeling of safety in the neighborhood. He hopes for a way to inject life into the neighborhood with some trees or a park. Adding to this, Evockeea would prefer better lighting in the neighborhood. Citing studies where more foliage led to a higher crime rate in urban areas, she thinks that more street lights will make residents feel safer. Gary notes specifically that 11th Street from Callowhill to Wood is still very dark compared to 12th street.


- additional trash cans - community garden - 'using trees bred for urban areas

Thank you + come again soon!

Want to be involved? Contact for more information.

Follow PCDC on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @PCDC_Events Zine written and designed by Jennifer Lam,

Family Style Conversations - Dinner Journal 2 - Philadelphia Chinatown  

The second community dinner of a pilot series hosted by PCDC. Food for thought by and for the Philadelphia Chinatown neighborhood. Topics in...

Family Style Conversations - Dinner Journal 2 - Philadelphia Chinatown  

The second community dinner of a pilot series hosted by PCDC. Food for thought by and for the Philadelphia Chinatown neighborhood. Topics in...