One question I have consistently received from friends, guests, clients, and reporters is, "What inspired you to create the 16 Square Blocks project?" The short answer is that I was curious. I am of Chinese-Japanese background, and grew up in Hawaii surrounded by Asian peeople and culture. Moving to Seattle at eighteen, the International District was a place of intrigue, and provided the comfort of the Asian experience that I missed in Seattle. However, at the same time, I have always felt disjointed from my Asian heritage, and always considered myself more "American," than Asian. Early in 2009, I initiated an exploratory study for this project (see February 11, 2009 blog post), which concluded in me moving into an apartment on Maynard Avenue, right in the heart of Chinatown. The move into the neighborhood was probably the single most important development that propelled the project into fruition.
During this explortory study, I interviewed numerous colleagues and friends about the Asian-American experience, and subsequently drew up a bubble map that I recently rediscovered prior to my move to Syracuse, New York. It's rather crude, and not fully developed, however the brainstorm reveals the thought process, and issues at question prior to the inception of the project. It's fun to read, and maybe not politically correct in some instances, though remember, it's a brainstorm. The goal is to jot down as many ideas as quickly as possible in regards to a specific theme. In this instance: "The Asian American Identity." I am not sure I addessed much of what was initially jotted down here, though indirectly, I did succeed in documenting a part of myself.