Seattle’s Little Saigon neighborhood. • Courtesy Photo

By SCIDpda

The newly installed Little Saigon Community Crosswalks, located in the Chinatown/International District (CID), is a community-led public art project that celebrates the Vietnamese American experience and culture in the midst of impending change.

The blue and white crosswalks, designed by local Vietnamese American artist Duy Vo, depicts a turtle swimming in a blue gradient of water, surrounded by lotus plants. Vo created a design meant to represent the Vietnamese American experience. The turtle has been present for centuries in Vietnamese mythology and is strongly associated with luck, longevity, and perseverance. The lotus symbolizes beauty and strength in the face of adversity. The blue water gradient is a nod to the ocean that borders Vietnam and depicts a sense of adaptability, a quality that Vietnamese immigrants and refugees had to embrace in order to rebuild their lives in new countries and cultures.

Strong neighborhood identity is one way to promote resilience in a changing community – allowing for progress while not losing the unique character of Little Saigon, the center of the region’s Vietnamese community.

The Project for Public Spaces defines placemaking as a collaborative, community effort to shape the public realm in order to reflect, support, and promote community identity.

Over the past several of years, community members worked together the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda) and the City of Seattle to develop placemaking projects for Little Saigon to support the community’s identity as the neighborhood utilizes the 2011 upzone and the forthcoming development.

About SCIDPDA: The Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation & Development Authority (SCIDPDA) is a not-for-profit, public corporation chartered by the City of Seattle that works to preserve, promote, and develop the Seattle Chinatown International District as a vibrant community and unique ethnic neighborhood.

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