I Live in a Cupcake Neighborhood


March 13, 2013, Washington, DC:  I leave the Atlas Theater on H St. Sunday night thinking about cupcakes and sweet potato pie. The night is mild and a taxicab pulls up immediately to the theater’s well-lit doorstep to drive us from the north side of Capitol Hill to the south. On the way home, we talk about cupcakes and sweet potato pie and other heavier topics sparked by the evening’s Our City Film Festival.

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Filmmaker Focuses on DC’s Chinatown

director-Yi Chen

Credit: James Burch

This is one in a series of interviews about our neighborhoods and the people who love them. Would you like to participate? Click here for more information about contributing to Neighborhood Nomads.

February 3, 2013, Washington, DC: “Do you know who else you should meet?” I hear that a lot conducting interviews for Neighborhood Nomads, and I love it when people suggest others who have a story perfect for the blog. It’s in that manner that one interview tends to lead to the next. It seems people who care deeply about their neighborhoods and have a positive outlook on their communities typically know other people who do too, whether they live next door or across the country.

That’s precisely how I recently met Yi Chen, a filmmaker finishing her MFA at American University. Chen is completing a documentary focused on DC’s Chinatown in time for next month’s One City Film Festival, and she’s spending the next few weeks raising money on Kickstarter to fund the remainder of the project. At Chinatown Coffee Co. on 5th and H St. NW, Chen told me more about how the film has bolstered her own sense of community and belonging as she pursues her passion thousands of miles away from her native Shanghai.

Read on for more about Yi Chen’s efforts to document life in Chinatown…

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A Walk Back In Time Through DC’s Chinatown

Chinatown, Washington, DC, September 2012

This is one in a series of interviews featuring our neighborhoods and the people who love them. Would you like to participate? Click here for more information about contributing to Neighborhood Nomads.

October 3, 2012: I’ve visited DC’s Chinatown dozens of times — for games at the Verizon Center, movies at Gallery Place, and meals along that congested strip of 7th St. — but I’d never seen it quite like I did last Thursday when I took a walk back in time with DC resident Easten Law. Easten has a singular perspective on the place: He’s a professor of cultural studies at American University as well as a man who came to know Chinatown well as a teenager during regular visits to his grandparents’ home in the Wah Luck House. I was captivated by Easten’s stories about his roots, his views on the neighborhood’s distinct markers of life and death, and his deliberate narrative about our surroundings.

“I was thinking about how I wanted to frame my thoughts in terms of culture and identity and what a neighborhood is about,” Easten said as our conversation began. “A neighborhood is a social construct based on the people who live there.”

And from there, we began walking and talking, embarking on a trip back in time through a fascinating neighborhood of Washington, DC.

Read more of Easten’s views on Chinatown after the jump.

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