Seattle’s Chinatown International District is no stranger to making lemonade out of lemons, as one community leader explained.
Born from a legacy of redlining, racial exclusion and incarceration, the district has undergone struggle to transform itself into a rich and beautiful haven for many. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders A community that calls Seattle home.
But protecting neighborhoods from intrusion, gentrification, and erasure has been a generational project.
The latest chapter includes Sound Transit’s efforts to build a second light rail station in the neighborhood.
After months of community protests and advocacy, on July 28, the Sound Transit Commission postponed a decision on the Chinatown International District (CID) station, originally envisioned as the system’s primary transportation hub. did. With this decision, five options will be considered for several months, and one significant new option will be added. New stations may not be built nearby.
The most disruptive option for the neighborhood, the Fifth Avenue building has driven out many beloved businesses and has required Chinatown Gate to wrap up for years to protect. The dust and noise affect residents, many of whom are low-income immigrants, creating what some community leaders called “a desolate wasteland” within the community.median household income Chinatown ID About half the rest of the city, the neighborhood is predominantly people of color.
A slightly less disruptive pathway is on 4th Avenue, but even that option would wreak havoc for about a decade by redirecting traffic through the neighborhood and building a massive staging area there. Proponents fear the inevitable eviction of businesses and residents.
A Sound Transit spokesperson said the project went through years of feedback and community consultation to arrive at the current set of options, and the agency will continue that process. they wrote: “Sound Transit is committed to meaningfully engaging communities along project corridors in project development, and to focusing communities of color, low-income people, and other vulnerable people throughout the public engagement process. increase.”
It’s not just the impact on one station or neighborhood that worries community members. Large projects and battles pile up, one after another, to preserve the unique culture and history of this small but important part of the city. In addition to infrastructure and stadium projects, his anti-Asian-American COVID scare, anti-Asian-American violence, and the first blow of the pandemic’s economic woes have only caused more hardships. is.
But remember lemonade? A bittersweet silver lining emerges from this latest battle.
Across generations and ethnicities, communities are uniting against this latest threat. Wing Luke Museum Executive Director Joel Barakiel Tan explains what emerged as “a terrible beauty.”
“This is an exciting moment,” Barakiel Tan said.
Barraquiel Tan compared what he saw recently at Chinatown ID to his experience in Hawaii. Kupna, We love our elders and look to them for guidance and context. And we will lift the next generation and everyone in between to play their part in protecting and developing the village. ”
Christina Shimizu, co-executive director of Puget Sound Sage, has seen the same thing.
Shimizu said advocacy to stop the sound transit being built in his neighborhood has brought together young people, non-profits and advocacy groups who may not always be on the same side of the issue.
Shimizu said, “Everything seems to be coming together to uniformly blame the station because of the impact.”
“We all know that a neighborhood is really special, and that it’s more than just a neighborhood.” It’s our family bond, it’s our generational bond, and together we’re all making sure we have a future.”
Puget Sound Sage generally supports public transit and station locations outside of Chinatown ID, and the project will not cause any “collateral damage” to the neighborhood. .
To be clear, it’s encouraging to see the community come together, but the work comes at a price, said Barraquiel Tan.
To compete with a project like the Sound Transit Station, “we have to put energy into the CID, the museum, all the business to get it going,” says Barraquiel Tan. “But now we’re just using that energy to stave off more attacks. And it’s really overwhelming. Is it?”
Uncle Bob Santos was the unofficial mayor of Chinatown International District until his death in 2016, but in his 2002 book Hum Bows, Not Hot Dogs, he wrote about how the district would survive for decades. I am writing about what I have struggled for. A stadium effort in the early 1970s.
His words are still true today.
“Despite the enormous threats to the survival of the International District, there is resilience within the community to overcome the obstacles placed in our path towards our goal of community revitalization,” Santos said. It wrote, “I am confident that our hard work is proving that the International District can survive.”