The recent news of the CID Night Market’s cancellation has brought attention to a much larger issue within Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (CID)—the importance of strong community engagement and transparency. While the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA) has stated that financial challenges are the main reason for the event’s cancellation, this situation has opened up discussions about the need for better communication and understanding between the organization and the people it serves.
The CID Night Market isn’t just an ordinary event. It’s a gathering that draws in young people and visitors from different places, creating a lively mix of cultures in the CID. When such a significant event gets canceled, it might unintentionally send the message that something is wrong with the neighborhood. This emphasizes that events like the Night Market aren’t just celebrations of culture, but they also showcase the unity and vibrancy of the community to those outside its boundaries.
A central concern raised by community members is the feeling that the CIDBIA rarely communicates with them about the challenges it faces. Many are pointing out that this is the first time the organization has openly talked about struggling with sponsorships. Ideally, these difficulties should have been shared with the community before making a decision. This would have allowed for collective brainstorming and collaboration on potential solutions. Better communication would have shown that the organization values the community’s input and is committed to being transparent.
This underscores the disconnection—real or perceived—that the CIDBIA operates without a deep connection to the residents and businesses. It is a significant factor behind the reluctance of community members to come to the organization’s aid during these trying times.
When an entity asks for community support, it must have already established a foundation of mutual understanding, collaboration, and transparency. The process of building trust is not a one-time effort—it’s a continuous dialogue and demonstration of commitment to the community’s well-being.
While the CIDBIA’s efforts in sanitation, public safety, and marketing for small businesses are commendable, they must also focus on nurturing relationships and creating platforms for open dialogue.
Additionally, questions are being asked about the CIDBIA’s funding strategies. Many other groups in the CID have successfully secured grants during the pandemic, which raises the question of whether the CIDBIA explored this option. While relying on sponsorships is understandable, exploring different funding sources like grants could have been pursued more actively. Nonprofits have been successful in obtaining grants; small businesses, not so much.
The CIDBIA now stands at a turning point. The cancellation of the CID Night Market is an opportunity for the organization to reevaluate and rebuild trust with the community. This calls for a more transparent communication approach that shares both successes and challenges.
It’s an opportunity to engage in real conversations with the community and listen to their needs and aspirations. It’s also a time to reassess funding strategies and consider innovative approaches, including seeking grants. By fostering open communication, involving the community, and seeking various funding avenues, the CIDBIA can ensure a vibrant, united future for the CID.