Tenant Organizing in Chinatown with CAAAV, Chinatown Working Group, TUFF-L.E.S., CCCE, and GOLES
In response to decades of increasing gentrification pressures, communities in Chinatown and the Lower East Side have worked to fight encroaching speculative market rate development, loss of affordable rental housing and increasing displacement of low income residents. The Chinatown Mobile Workshop will cover efforts by CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities and other community organizations to fight harassment and illegal evictions and preserve affordable housing. Participants will also learn about community efforts to promote equitable future development that responds to local needs and is consistent with neighborhood scale and character, prompted by the 2008 rezoning on Manhattan’s Lower East Side which left Chinatown and portions of the Lower East Side without any zoning protections. These efforts include The Plan for Chinatown and Surrounding Areas, prepared for the Chinatown Working Group by Pratt Center for Community Development and the Collective for Community, Culture and Environment (CCCE), and current efforts by Tenants United Fighting for Lower East Side (TUFF-L.E.S.), CAAAV, Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) and others, in responding to proposed super-tall luxury developments in the Two Bridges area on the Chinatown and Lower East Side waterfront and submitting a Special District rezoning application for the area that would maximize affordable housing development, limit displacement, and ensure development that is consistent with the scale and character of the surrounding neighborhood.
1 PM Chinatown
We will leave from the conference together and/or meet at 1:00pm on Saturday, June 22, at CAAAV’s storefront location at 55 Hester Street, for a brief introduction provided by Eva Hanhardt and Jocelyne Chait from CCCE, before heading out on the tour, led by Melanie Wang, CAAAV’s Chinatown Tenant Union Lead Organizer and Diane Wong, Assistant Professor at New York University, who will describe anti-displacement and tenant organizing efforts in Chinatown. Marc Richardson, from TUFF-L.E.S. will lead the tour in the Two Bridges area, describing current development threats and community responses, both in terms of legal action and application for a Special District. A debrief at the end of the tour will provide opportunity for further discussion and Q&A.
The following organizers will be leading the workshop:
Melanie Wang is the Lead Chinatown Tenants Union Organizer at CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities. She has worked in both the domestic worker and retail worker organizing movements and holds a BA in labor history and gender studies from Harvard. Raised in a first-generation, Mandarin-speaking Chinese family, she believes deeply in intersectional feminism, multilingual justice, and the immense power of grassroots organizing to create social change.
Marc Richardson is a member of the Land’s End Tenant Association and a founding member of Tenants United Fighting For Lower East Side (TUFF-L.E.S.). He has lived on the Lower East Side for close to 40 years, the past 26 years in the same location at 275 South Street. He has worked as an Office Manager for the same mid-sized financial firm, also located in Lower Manhattan, just south of Tribeca.
Diane Wong is an Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. Her work focuses on intergenerational resistance to gentrification in New York, San Francisco, and Boston Chinatowns. She draws from a combination of methods including ethnography, participatory mapping, archival research, augmented reality, and oral history interviews with tenants, organizers, restaurant and garment workers, small businesses, public health workers, and elected officials. Diane is currently based in NYC where she works in collaboration with community groups like CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, Chinatown Art Brigade, and The W.O.W. Project.
Jocelyne Chait – Community Planning Consultant. Jocelyne is an urban planning consultant focusing on community-based planning and sustainable development. Jocelyne has worked with local and citywide organizations and institutions, as well as public agencies, on a number of planning initiatives and research projects; she brings a holistic, integrative approach to urban development. Much of Jocelyne’s work for the past twenty years has focused on planning under Section 197-a of the New York City Charter, both in terms of developing plans with local communities and promoting a citywide community planning agenda. She has also provided technical assistance to community boards and local communities responding to proposed rezonings and development plans.
Eva Hanhardt – City and Environmental Planning Consultant. Eva is a planning consultant with 40 years of experience and a member of the planning faculty at Pratt Institute. Eva’s work has centered on community-based and environmental planning. She was a planner at the NYC Department of Environmental Protection and the NYC Department of City Planning, where she authored the 1992 NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan and Zoning Text and the Hunter’s Point Special Mixed Use District. At the Municipal Art Society Planning Center, she managed the “ImagineNY” project, facilitating public participation in decisions about NYC’s recovery after 9/11.