I recently started a project called “Flushing Art Tours” in which I invite other Asian/Asian American Flushing residents to share their perspective on the neighborhood and engage in different hands-on ways to slow down, observe and reflect. I invite one person who then invites another person forming a small group of three. Each person chooses a place in Flushing that is significant to them for any reason, and then at the site they lead an activity that helps the group share in that person’s perspective. For this Lenten season, I’ll be sharing the contents of the first walk of the project with hopes that it will help us to slow down and reconsider the places that we may pass by regularly and see the different ways that people from our community are shaped by them.
When we talk about the Flushing community, what do we mean? Who would represent it? The recent immigrant, those who moved in during the 80s and 90s or their children, or those whose families have been here even longer? What places do we think of first? Is it the frequently visited restaurant, or that place on the third floor with no sign outside? We may all walk around the same places, but depending on who you are, your joy may be another’s sorrow. The comforts that draw many to this neighborhood may also partly mask over things that repel people and make it a difficult place to live.
I want to see how Flushing residents, starting with Asians/Asian Americans, relate to their neighborhood and to do so in a way that people can learn from each other. Perhaps because of the diversity and constant change, it can be difficult to point to strong consensus or collective consciousness about cultural/neighborhood identity or even its assets and needs. However, getting a feel for these things is a necessary foundation to determine what actions might be needed to help the broader neighborhood flourish.