Neighborhood Matters: The Struggle Over Parcel C: How Boston’s Chinatown Won a Victory in the Fight Against Institutional Expansionism and Environmental Racism
Giles Li, Executive Director of Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC)
Tunney Lee, Chief architect in Chinatown’s development and professor emeritus at MIT
The Struggle Over Parcel C was created by Mike Blockstein with the Asian Community Development Corporation and Boston-area high school students, and is part of the Banquet Films series. This series of short documentaries explore the history, culture, and politics that shaped Boston’s most densely populated residential neighborhood, Chinatown.For the last fifty years, Boston’s Chinatown has been a shrinking community. Squeezed in by highways on two sides, its land is being gradually consumed by two medical institutions, Tufts University Medical School and New England Medical Center. In 1993 New England Medical Center made an offer to the City of Boston to acquire a small plot of land in Chinatown called Parcel C, for the purposes of building an eight-story, four hundred and fifty-five car garage on Parcel C. No one could have foreseen what came next, thousands of residents of Chinatown organized to oppose the purchase of Parcel C.
Having grown up locally in an immigrant family, Giles Li has a life-long connection and commitment to the community in and beyond Chinatown. He has worked at BCNC for nearly 10 years. Li is a Boston change agent, recognized thought leader and public speaker in Asian American communities nationwide. He holds a Masters degree in Public Affairs and is an alumnus of the Institute for Nonprofit Management and Leadership at Boston University’s School of Management. Giles has served as adjunct faculty in the Asian American Studies program at UMass-Boston, and he is currently a mentor for the Community Fellows Program at BU.
Tunney Lee grew up in Chinatown and professor emeritus at MIT and former BRA official. Lee is the former Head, Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT, and the former Head of the Department of Architecture, Chinese University of Hong Kong. He served as Chief of Planning and Design at the Boston Redevelopment Authority and was also Deputy Commissioner of the Massachusetts Division of Capital Planning and Operations. His research and teaching at MIT has focused on the process of community-based design and he has led many studios involving Boston area neighborhoods including East Boston, Fenway, and Alewife.
Neighborhood Matters is a lunchtime series that celebrates the ways in which community groups have shaped the neighborhoods surrounding the Northeastern campus. This series is co-curated by the Northeastern Center for the Arts and the Archives and Special Collections at the Northeastern University Library.
Photo: A group of protesters stand in front of the Chinese Progressive Association building and hold protest signs. The signs read “Quincy united for immigrant rights”, “Chinatown/North End united for immigrant rights”, and “Brookline united for immigrant rights”.
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