As part of “On the Table,” a citywide Knight Foundation and Philadelphia Foundation initiative to have conversations about communities over a meal, PCDC hosted 15 Chinatown/Callowhill community members at Emei Restaurant on Arch Street on May 24th. Over a family-style meal of traditional Chinese dishes, residents and other community members from many different backgrounds talked about food, community and their hope for the future. Many residents had deep roots, while others had just moved into the neighborhood.
When asked about the most pressing needs of the community, folks were not shy. They talked about the immediate need for affordable housing, redevelopment that responds to community needs and respects historical buildings, public gathering and recreation space, greater awareness of mental health issues, and increased community engagement and connection.
A resident from Francis House of Peace/Ping An House, an affordable residence on Arch Street, spoke passionately about the overcrowding, stress and poor quality housing that many low-income immigrants experience in the community. Another resident from the Old Shoe Factory Lofts on Wood Street spoke about the land speculation north of Vine Street and how the lack of use has negatively impacted residents.
Many residents expressed a desire to better connect community members and organizations to each other, and the need to have a space that will do so. One resident suggested creating a community bulletin in a central outdoor space.
Side conversations about how different cultural backgrounds affect the way people approach their programs, and how to define and envision the identity of Chinatown, contributed to a rich discussion.
PCDC thanks all the community members who attended, including the 6th District Police Station, Fire Department: Engine 20 and Ladder 23, Chinese Christian Church and Center, and residents from Hing Wah Yuen, Old Shoe Factory, Francis House of Peace/Ping An House, 1027 Arch Street Lofts, as well as PCDC board members.