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What is Placemaking?

Placemaking involves the creation of spaces that reflect the identity of a community and give people and a sense of place.  It focuses on utility, access, inclusion, welcoming and comfort designed to strengthen the connections between people and places.

Creative Placemaking is the use of the arts and culture to shape the physical and social character of a place in order to support economic development and promote social change.

Placemaking Project

Despite the longtime presence of Asian Americans in Evanston, there is no archive or documentation of the city’s ASPA history.  Today, well over 10% of Evanston's population identifies as Asian, South Asian and/or Pacific Islander, but the ASPA community cannot be found in any historical record. This absence reinforces the perpetual “foreigner” myth which has often and historically been associated with ASPA identities, and contributes to the erasure of a community.

In 2021 the TEAACH Act was passed in IL mandating the teaching of Asian American history and the Asian American experience in K-12 public schools. In Fall 2022 this curriculum will begin in D65 and D202 schools. How do we teach about ASPA history and the ASPA experience without any local resources about the ASPA community here in our own city? Without being able to integrate local history, point to local resources, and contextualize the curriculum for students, they are unable to connect with ASPA history in any meaningful way.   
In 2022 Evanston ASPA partnered with Jenny Thompson at the Evanston History Center to engage in an ongoing project to research local ASPA history, to gather stories from the local ASPA community, and to preserve and share this history today and into the future. From artifacts, biographies, and stories to accounts of immigration and refugee journeys and personal testimonies, this collected history will be kept by Evanston ASPA and shared digitally on the Evanston ASPA website until it finds a permanent home.
This project is about increasing the visibility and representation of Asian, South Asian and Pacific Islanders in our community in an effort to shift society’s collective consciousness towards a more empathetic and antiracist view of people working towards equity and justice.  Most importantly it is about creating a community where ASPA people see themselves reflected in history and stories, and experience Evanston as a place where they belong.

Unless we know ourselves and our history, and other people and their history, there is really no way that we can have the positive kind of interaction where there is real understanding.

- Yuri Kochiyama

Placemaking Final
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