Participatory Chinatown


Participatory Chinatown seeks to transform the planning practices shaping Boston’s Chinatown from disjointed transactions between developers and the community to an ongoing conversation guided by the process of participatory learning. By encouraging Chinatown residents to actively experience, transform, and interact in proposed urban developments, Participatory Chinatown enables residents of all ages and abilities to understand and articulate their own vision of a better neighborhood.

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Physical deliberation, virtual interaction, and web-input are integrated into an engagement process that encourages residents of all ages and abilities to participate. No prior urban planning experience is necessary; interest is the only prerequisite for involvement. To lower cultural and language barriers to participation, neighborhood youth will play a vital role as informal staff and interpreters who mediate between the virtual environment and other community members. Participants sit side-by-side in physical space and simultaneously co-inhabit a 3D virtual space where they engage in rapid prototyping and testing of urban design proposals.

Participatory Chinatown is a collaborative effort of the Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC), Emerson College, and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). Assistant Professor Eric Gordon of Emerson will direct research and design of the participatory learning experience. With 21 years of community development experience, ACDC will lead community participation and youth engagement. MAPC will provide technical support with both data models and lessons learned from its experience with community planning processes.  Read more about the project partners and see who’s involved.

This project is funded by the Digital Media and Learning Competition of the MacArthur Foundation.  Read more about support for the project.