Abstract: Community Development

AAPI Nexus: Community Development Volume 1, Number 1 Summer/Fall 2003 Abstracts

An Agenda for AAPI Community Economic Development
By: Kil Huh and Lisa Hasegawa

Abstract: Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community-based organizations (CBO’s) are key players in providing many services such as job training programs and civic education. The focus of community development has changed due to the increased technical and professional industry. Today’s AAPI CBO groups are heterogeneous as many groups focus in different services whether it is ethnic specific or age group specific. However, the CBOs are unevenly spread across the country. AAPI need to work on expanding its system-wide support on the local, state, and federal levels. The article discusses a social networks approach to aid in CBOs goals and the social capital approach, remarking that social ties are crucial for the well-being of the community. The term ‘community’ is explored as it means different things to different people, and the problem of lumping diverse ethnicities within the Asian American group because it homogenizes them and fails to distinguish a particular group’s concern. The vital aspect is to create community development infrastructure ensuring the inclusion of AAPI CBOs to foster strong AAPI communities, as an essential program in the broader plan of reviving US neighborhoods.

The Paradox of Dispersal: Ethnic Continuity and Community Development Among Japanese Americans in Little Tokyo
By: Dean S. Toji and Karen Umemoto

Abstract: This article talks about the formation of communities and its implications. Little Tokyo is pointed out as an example of a community borne out as a result of a segregationist US society. During World War II there was a dramatic decline in the construction of Little Tokyo since Japanese people were put into interment camps. There is a dramatic shift of the function of Little Tokyo before the war and after the war. Post-WW II demonstrates“paradox dispersal” because as the ethnic population was no longer heavily concentrated in one area the historic Little Tokyo communities assumed a new importance as they are regarded as a symbol ethnic identity and community. The power struggle in the community is part of a broader political, economic, and cultural issue.  Three forces are responsible for shaping the history of community development in Little Tokyo: Japanese corporations, the region’s elite development regimes, and local Japanese American organizations. Post WW II “urban renewal” opened the door to Japanese corporate capital. This policy is discussed insofar as it influences the community. By late 1980s Japanese Americans were able to shape the Little Tokyo development as they gain more economic power. The ‘recreation center’ controversy is discussed.

Opportunities for Community-University Partnerships: Implementing a Service-Learning Research Model in Asian American Studies
By: Melany dela Cruz and Loh-Sze Leung

Abstract: Over the last quarter century, many Asian American Studies (AAS) programs have gradually gained academic legitimacy within universities as part of the movement for Ethnic Studies. The pressures of fighting for legitimacy in a system where research, not community-based work, is rewarded mean that the growing institutionalization of AAS has made the majority of programs and courses less accessible to communities. This article calls for AAS to take a more active, practical, and broader approach in reaching out to Asian Pacific Americans (APA) in our community, especially the underserved who face several obstacles in achieving their goals due to lack of access, lack of education, and discrimination. Asian American Studies now devotes a smaller share of its growing resources to community-orientated and community-based courses than at its inception, exacerbating the divide between the university and APA communities. Asian American Studies must return to its roots as a social agent in a broader social movement for equality and justice. This article introduces a service-learning research model that is one approach to linking the Asian Pacific American community with university Asian American Studies departments and programs across the nation.

Distressed Asian American Neighborhoods
By: Douglas Miller and Douglas Houston

Abstract: There is a serious lack of demographic and socioeconomic data about Asian Americans living in distressed areas. The approach suggested to address this problem is community development with professional and academics to provide updated information on many issues such as poverty, educational attainment pertinent to these disadvantaged AA communities. The article discusses the selection criteria employed to choose the fourteen distressed communities that is analyzed. Details describing demographic characteristics, such as most AA communities are racially diverse, are supplemented with statistics to provide concrete data. Unemployment and poverty go hand-in-hand and in distressed AA communities these problems are occurring in higher frequency than other communities. The typical depiction of an AA community as a rich ethnic-enclave is debunked. The dominant problems in these communities are also representative of the problems most immigrants face today. The motivation for this analysis is to compel policy-makers to develop further research into these communities to understand their problems in order to make policies effectively addressing their needs.

The Fight to Save Welfare for Low-Income Older Asian Immigrants: The Role of National Asian American Organizations
By: Grace J. Yoo

Abstract: The welfare reform law of August 1996 signed by President Bill Clinton put an end to immigrants’ eligibility of federal means tested entitlements. The rollbacks on welfare are the most drastic for older, low-income Asian immigrants who are on Supplemental Security Income. The article’s focus is in on national Asian American organizations who are involved in this political debate. The central question discuss is how did national Asian American organizations    characterize and affect the 1996 federal welfare reform and immigrant debate. The selection of organizations that was studied and the findings of that investigation, along with  the assessment of its effectiveness and the resources barriers they face are discussed.