We know it’s easy to let generic New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside, but this resolution is no diet plan or get-rich scheme. This year, let us all make a concerted effort to make our International District a better, more visible, and important place.
Seattle’s ID is unique because it’s not just a “Chinatown.” Chinatown is only one component of the ID’s rich multiethnic makeup. We have enclaves of Filipinos, Koreans, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese, all in a close proximity. We are truly a Pan-Asian community that is unlike any other in the United States — so let’s make this known to everyone nationally.
How will we do this? How do we put the spotlight on this area so that it continues to prosper and grow? Well, it’s going to take a lot of hard work.
1. Many of us feel that Obama isn’t utilizing enough of our talents. We need to make ourselves known as a hotbed of leaders. We need more APIs in decision-making positions. Washington has the fourth-largest Asian population of any state, yet we don’t see a proportional number of Asian Americans in leadership roles.
In contrast, Washington’s Black population, which is smaller than the Asian population, has had mayors in major cities like Seattle and Spokane as well as the King County executive branch.
2. We need to promote our ID. Believe it or not, this is a financial district that people are underutilizing. There are seven banks in this area. There are also 3,000 residents and so many community organizations that we are taking for granted. Other ethnic communities do not have the resources we have.
3. The story usually goes like this: You are born in the city. You work hard, go to college, get a good job … and then you buy a house in the suburbs. All that is left in Chinatown are the middle-aged and older. We need to bring young people back. We need to shed some of our fuddy-duddy image and make the ID known as a place for families to take their children. A foundation will be built so that as adults, young people come back and invest their time and talents back into the ID.
4. Gentrification. Nearly everyone is afraid of it — and for many good reasons. However, if we resist change too much, if we resist modernizing too much, we will end up creating an image of a fortress in which outsiders are scared to enter. There needs to be a degree of compromise because the ID needs tourism. The ID needs to attract people who will come here to spend money in continuing to sustain our community financially.
5. In the same vein, not only do we need to think about crossing over with the mainstream, we need to think about reaching out among our ethnic groups. There’s a tendency for people here to stay enclosed in their own groups — even when they need help. Lets make 2009 the year where we all begin to communicate and help one another. Lets learn to ask for aid outside our own communities. And don’t use the English language as an excuse. Poor English is far better than no English and no communication. (end)