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Fieldwork: International District

2015-06-13 来源: 51due教员组 类别: Essay范文

Fieldwork: International District
Introduction
The International District is located on the south of downtown Seattle, which is also known as Chinatown or Asian neighborhood. It was built in the 19th century when Chinese immigrants came to Seattle and gathered here as a group to be more powerful but the International District is always considered as a place full of crime and terror. By taking a tour of the International District, I observed the urban landscape facilities, which have been improved after all these years to make residents’ lives better.

Preparation
This Thursday afternoon, I took a trip to the International District in Seattle.   Once I walked into the district by the 6th AVE S., the first thing that caught my eye was the street sign, which is bilingual. The streets names in Japanese are put under the original English names. However, when I got into the district center, the names of streets on the signs are in Chinese and English. In my memory, these changes were made about one year ago.  
Then I parked my car in the Uwajimaya village parking lot. Uwajimaya village is a famous Japanese community with a nice Asian grocery, a Japanese bookstore and an apartment building in it and most of the residents who live in the community are Asian. After parking, I started to walk around the International District.
Firstly, I saw that two police cars were parked on the street. I think that having police force on the street is not bad for the district. Then I walked through a small alley; there are three surveillance cameras in the alley and there are more surveillance cameras around the Bank of America.
There is a gate called “Gate of China”, located at the intersection of 5th Ave S and S King ST. When I walked through the gate, I saw a list of names of people who donated money to build the gate on each base of gate pillars. There is also a dragon on the street light pole, which symbolizes China. 
I kept walking north and got to the S Jackson St, which is the main street of the International District. A bus station was built this year on the street, which makes it more convenience for residents who live in this district to travel.
After walking around for a while, I took a rest in the “Hing Hay Park” which is a small park located at the intersection of S King ST and S Maynard Ave. I saw a lot of Asian, especially elder people, some of which were playing chess or chatting in a Chinese-style pavilion with the name of “Tao Ran Ting”. On the corner of the park, a map of the International District in Chinese style can be seen, which can help visitors who travel here to find their ways around the place.

Planning and governance
Planning has conventionally been seen as application of technical expertise to competing claims for the city and the planner needs to make disinterested judgments in the public interest, reconcile demands for growth with the needs of a city’s publics. I have been in Seattle for three years. In my memory, the International District has not changed a lot in the past three years except for the bilingual street signs and the new bus station. It is known that the International District is the community for Asian, especially Chinese and Japanese. According to official statistics, more than half of the residents there are Asian. The bilingual street signs are convenient for Asian residents and Asian visitors to know their location. Planning methods need to change if they are to address conflicts arising from differences or from competing claims to the city (Lefebvre, 1996: 147-159).
Many Chinese traditional celebrations are held every year to welcome the Chinese New Year in Chinatown such as street fair, Chinese dragon dance and firework. These celebrations would make the Chinese people who live here feel more like home.

Crime and policing
Crime persists as a morally and politically consequential component of urban society and the Law and order apparatus developed to respond to crime says much about the society that erects it. Given the yawning chasm of social differences, it is hardly surprising that fear of others is common among urbanities, especially multi-cultural places like the International District. Fear of crime can be indeed well-founded; cities are often dangerous places especially in certain sectors (Bellair, 1997). 
The most common crime in the district is drug trade and drug dealing usually happens in the dark. According to the theory of “Broken Window”(Kelling and Code, 1996; Wilson and Kelling, 1997), if a potential criminal recognizes a place is disorderly, he/she presumes it is ripe for the picking and will engage on crime there. That is why there are police all around at night and cars of the law enforcement are parked in the area during the day. 

Terror and surveillance
A few years ago, Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area, an association whose goal is to make the International District a better place, invested thousands of dollars to install surveillance cameras. Since the district had a high crime rate, the installation of surveillance cameras would help improve the community security and assist law enforcement to find the perpetrators of crime.

Urban homeless
I did not see any homeless people during my tour, but I remember that there were some homeless people living in tents on rode-side lawn at the intersection of Yesler Way and 6th Ave S. The homeless come out at night, staying outside of restaurants, asking for food from the restaurant customers.

Conclusion
After my tour to the International District, I concur with the conclusion made by Barbara Happe and Clause-Dieter Konig (2003: 119) that the existence of numerous neighborhood organizations in the shanty towns of South America confirms that the interests of the urban poor can, in principle, be effectively organized. I also found two issues that pique my interest which are district security camera and the homeless. 
Per our reading of Terror and Surveillance by Jon Coaffee and David Murakami Wood, I am intrigued by the idea of ' fortress city ‘, which means that modern city usually “militarizes” urban landscape by installing all kinds of surveillance equipment to make a city or a district safer. This is also what the district does to improve security. They install surveillance cameras around the place to fortify the district. I believe that it is also what most American cities and districts would do when they feel that where they live is not secure. There is no doubt that surveillance cameras are indispensable assets in solving crime and giving residents a sense of security, however, I doubt that surveillance camera is the answers to all the questions and whether it indeed make a place safer. The “fortress LA ” in the reading material is a case to the point. If installing all these surveillance equipment in the city is the silver bullet for all the crime problems, LA would have been the safest place in America, but LA still has the top crime rate in the States. 
I don’t doubt the positive effects that surveillance camera can bring to the community, what I am not convinced is the idea of “more surveillance cameras, less crime”, especially in a minority community. The causes of crime in minority community are complicated. There are economic and cultural reasons for it. The first thing local authority should do is to find out what is the major factor that causes the high crime rate and deal with it accordingly. Putting up surveillance camera can only help solve crime but not prevent crime. There is no way for surveillance cameras to cover all the area and operation and maintenance of all surveillance cameras would take a large sum of money in the budget. This money can be better used to set up more projects and activities to help local minority residents to learn skills and better fit in the society. 
Another issue that I would like to touch upon is the homeless problem in the district. Though I didn’t see any homeless people on my tour to the International District, I believe that problem of homeless people is not something we can neglect. The causes of homeless problem are various and it is hard to distinguish between root causes and participating events. It is even harder to know the root causes of homeless problem in a multi-cultural community. 
Although the causes of homeless problem are not clear, the way to reduce the homelessness is quite similar. It all chalks up to meeting the needs of homeless people and help them find their way back to the society. I recalled a piece of news about local government giving homeless people a house to stay and sending social workers to visit them regularly to see how they are doing. The person in charge of the program said that this project not only helped reduce the number of homeless people but also save tax money for the government because it reduced the spending on giving out help for the homeless. Although this project still has some controversies as to whether it is a right thing to do to give houses to alcoholics and drug addicts among homeless people, the idea of helping them find their way back to track is what I think the right way to deal with the problem of homelessness. The rising assertion of differences of class, gender, ethnicity, age, mobility and sexual orientation poses a challenge. There may simply be no city-as-a-whole to serve, only its diverse elements.

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