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Gordon Chin Book Talk: Building Community, Chinatown Style: A Half Century of Leadership

Saturday, September 19, 2015
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Event Type:
H Dong
2066 University Ave, Berkeley, CA
Location Details:
Eastwind Books of Berkeley
2066 University Avenue (near Shattuck)
Berkeley, CA 94704

This is a book talk by Gordon Chin, the founding member of the Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC) of San Francisco, one of the premiere low-income housing advocacy organizations in the country.

The book offers a true history of how Chinatown survived as a low-income neighborhood. It offers a a firsthand view on how to produce meaningful and positive social change from the grassroots. It is packed with local information, history, people's stories about resistance and improving their lives.

Co-sponsored by Eastwind Books of Berkeley, Oakland Asian Cultural Center, National CAPACD, and the UC Berkeley Asian American and Asian Disapora Studies Program


Contents of the book:


Section One: Convergence
The Asian American and Community Development Movements in San Francisco, 1968–1977

Chapter 1: Ten Years That Woke Up Chinatown
Chapter 4: Saving Chinese Playground
Chapter 2: Fighting for San Francisco Neighborhoods
Chapter 3: The Fall of the I Hotel
Chapter 4: Saving Chinese Playground
Chapter 5: The Mei Lun Yuen Affordable Housing Project 55
Chapter 6: Those Chinese Bus Drivers

Section Two: Preservation
Fighting for Chinatown’s Land and People, History and Identity, 1977–1987

Chapter 7: Starting an Organization
Chapter 8: Becoming Housing Developers 103 Chapter 9: The Ping Yuen Rent Strike
Chapter 10: Saving Residential Hotels
Chapter 11: Chinatown Alleyways
Chapter 12: Chinatown Land Use Wars 141 Chapter 13: Rezoning Chinatown

Section Three: Revitalization Planning for Chinatown and Its Place in San Francisco, 1988–1999

Chapter 14: The Loma Prieta Earthquake
Chapter 15: Transportation Aftershocks
Chapter 16: Preserving Housing, Preserving Neighborhoods 193 Chapter 17: The Broadway Corridor
Chapter 18: Building Community, Chinatown Style

Section Four: Transitions
To New Visions and New Leadership for Chinatown, 2000–2012

Chapter 19: The Rise of the I Hotel
Chapter 20: The International Hotel Block
Chapter 21: The Central Subway
Chapter 22: The New Era of Affordable Housing in San Francisco
Chapter 23: Who Can Afford to Live in San Francisco?

Section Five: Movements
Politics and Leadership, Chinatowns and the Asian American Movement

Chapter 24: From Community Leadership to Political Leadership
Chapter 25: Chinatown USA
Chapter 26: The National Asian American Community Development Movement
Chapter 27: You Can Never Have Enough Leadership … or Hawaiian Shirts



Reviews of the Book

Building Community is an intellectual tour de force by one of California’s most influential organizers, activists, and urban innovators. Gordon Chin was not merely present at many of the critical junctures that created the modern Bay Area, his skillful political organizing and community-building work shaped the history of the region from the student strikes through contemporary efforts to empower and mobilize residents of Chinatown. The book is part socio-political history, part community development primer, part how-to guide for community organizers, and part autobiography. And he writes as he has worked throughout his career – with a clarity of purpose but in the spirit of collaboration and community, giving due credit to other individuals and institutions. Though rich with powerful stories, Building Community is much more than a retelling of history, it is a thoughtfully integrated and conceptually rich narrative suitable for academic courses in urban studies, history, political science, ethnic studies, leadership studies, and other disciplines as well as an imminently readable chronicle of San Francisco history. For scholars, this book provides a treasure of first-hand accounts and thick descriptions that will provide the basis for future research.
–Corey Cook, Associate Professor of Politics, University of San Francisco

Community activist, housing developer, policy and land use guru, commissioner and collaborative leader… this is what Gordon Chin has meant to our City and the Chinese and Asian communities he has served and advocated for. He has a lot to say about our City’s history for the past 55 plus years and I am grateful he has put into words for all of us to appreciate.
–San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

Gordon Chin is one of those movers and shakers who has made San Francisco worth living in. His fight to keep the city’s legendary Chinatown a vibrant and affordable community is a model for righteous activism. Now we need a new generation of bravehearts, young men and women willing to fight to save wonderfully multidimensional cities like San Francisco so they don’t become a jeweled preserve of the one percent. “Building Community, Chinatown Style” is full of crucial lessons for the next generation of urban warriors and dreamers – and for those of us old ones who still haven’t given up. Read and learn… and get inspired.
–David Talbot, author of the national bestseller, Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror and Deliverance in the City of Love

Part memoir, part history, and part political strategy, “Building Community, Chinatown Style” is a “must read” for anyone interested in learning more about how Gordon Chin and the Chinatown Community Development Center successfully dealt with issues of affordable housing, transportation and public space, making San Francisco Chinatown a better place to live.
–Judy Yung, Professor Emeritus of American Studies, UC Santa Cruz and co author of Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940.

More than the history of an agency, the book is a tribute to the vitality and spirit that is Chinatown and those who created its triumphs and met the challenges of historic attacks and persistent opposition. It is told with deep insight and refreshing humility from the perspective and experiences of co founder and former director of the Chinatown Community Development Center, Gordon Chin, whose response to the seminal moment of the Third World Student Strike at SF State in 1968 to 69 was a four decades commitment to the community that gave him birth. Strengthened and inspired by young student activists, 90 year old tenant organizers, bus drivers, community agency workers and organizers, behind the scene teachers, up front preachers, and political leaders, Gordon honors them all.

It might be said that the insights and experiences he shares and the way he organizes them into clear and focused strategies and tactics, makes him a Saul Alinsky for the 21st century. But that would not capture the essence of it. Gordon goes deeper than theory.

This is a personal account of his and his mentors and peers organic and personal connection to a place, their place. It is the DNA of community.

Dedicated to his parents, this book is a 288 page love letter.

Read it, laugh with it, cry with it, and then get up, and come home.
–John Wichman, Chinatown native and writer
Added to the calendar on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 7:52AM
by H Dong
by H Dong
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