April 21, 2020

Rentify Chinatown: Place-Based Identity in Boston Chinatown

Rentify Chinatown: Place-Based Identity in Boston Chinatown

Understanding Boston Chinatown is at risk of gentrification and displacement, which exacerbates the loss of identity and memory, Rentify Chinatown aims to leverage the joint power of digital tools, data analytics, and in-depth interviews to document and explain place-based identity for local communities in Boston Chinatown. The Rentify Chinatown research team aims to create a shared database of quantitative and qualitative data for Boston Chinatown community organizations, including Chinatown Community Land Trust (CCLT) and Chinatown Progressive Association (CPA), as well as identify challenges and opportunities in the neighborhood.

In order to achieve these goals, with the help of Sasaki Strategies, Rentify Chinatown has launched CoMap Chinatown: an online platform to crowdsource personal experiences about Boston Chinatown through mapping. We’ll aggregate these maps from interested participants to discover patterns, challenges, and opportunities. Meanwhile, the team is also developing WOW Chinatown, an additional crowdsourcing mapping tool that will be embedded in WeChat as a Mini program, the most widely used messaging and lifestyle phone app among Chinatown residents. The Rentify Chinatown research team, along with community groups in Chinatown, will introduce the two digital mapping tools to local residents and their friends and families, encouraging individuals to identify, post, and share their memories and sentiments about specific locations in Chinatown. From there, we expect to share with the public a layered mapping database that documents the memorable locations submitted by local residents. We understand these unique spots as the cornerstones of Chinatown’s identity in the eyes of ordinary people. While advocating to preserve the still existing spots and physical structure, we will document and exhibit those vanished locations online.

Also, we have already conducted interviews with local residents and key stakeholders, gathered historical data from both primary and secondary sources, which helped us design the Chinatown Historical Trail and launch the Rentify Chinatown website.

If you would like to get in touch with Rentify Chinatown and learn more about their work, please reach out via email.


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