Plaque and Mural Project

Davis House’s provision of student housing introduces unique challenges to its preservation. In a two-step approach, this project intends to take into account both the contribution of the inhabitants, as well as attempting to affix more permanent documentation in a way that will survive the constant turnover of student life. Step one of this project is a commemorative plaque mounted on the front of Davis house, in a space that is both visible and accessible. The plaque will give a brief history of the house detailing its construction and various histories. By affixing a plaque to the house, house members will have an accessible point of documented memory from which to draw, that will also be available to visitors and outsiders as well, opening the house to the public.

The second part of this project would be the creation of a living mural, documenting the history of the house while leaving stylized blank spaces for residents to create and add their own content to the mural. This mural would encourage the house’s history to evolve as the house grows and continues to exist.

The key to the success of this project lies in the blended approach of “official” and interpretive history practices that incorporate both elements of the institutional as well as the cultural values of the cooperative. We hope to retain the cultural values of the people to whom this heritage site belongs, while also encouraging longevity, creativity, and preservation.

Advertisements

Appraisal: Community

The I-Hotel is first and foremost linked to the Manilatown Heritage Foundation, which manages its legacy. The rise of the I-Hotel is attributes to collaboration amongst various community organizations, which the Manilatown Heritage Foundation continues to do with community organizations, government agencies, and educational instituions through program collaboration in the spirit of its rebuilding. National interest in the site stems from the over 3.5 million Filipino Americans whose resilient history is embodied by the fall and rise of the I-Hotel. International interest stems from the over 7 million Filipino migrants who have relocated throughout the world, yet share a similar experience to the Manongs who occupied the I-Hotel after migrating to the United States. On a grander scale, communities of color can relate to the solidarity embodied in the I-Hotel movement. The I-Hotel’s current stewards serve on a volunteer basis and train future stewards through an internship program. However, the site struggles with garnering an investment from the next generation, as many of its current stewards are older. The Foundation relies on data provided by the narratives of the original tenants of the I-Hotel as well as accounts from others that were involved. The foundation invests much of its time and energy into educating its visitors via galleries, tours, and programs. Improvements can be made for visitors to access digital content via the internet. The shift in demographics has caused the I-Hotel to be located in a largely Chinese American community, and thus its programs do not directly serve its surrounding neighbors, raising a contestation between historic location versus current situation. However, it is not to be said that these neighbors are not welcome to these programs. A large Filipino American population resides in the SoMa district, and the location is easily accessible by means of public transportation. In terms of the site as a destination, there is a need for a clearer distinction to be made between the I-Hotel and the Manilatown Heritage Foundation, as the former is a residential building not affiliated with commemorating the site’s legacy. A docent can provide a guided tour of the new I-Hotel, however, much of the information to be grappled with is located in the Manilatown Heritage Foundation center, located in a separate space at the first floor of the I-Hotel. Because of the not-for-profit model of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation, it is accessible to various economic backgrounds, but not necessarily sustainable as a financial entity. It has a minimal impact on the environment and does not output a significant amount of waste from its programs. A primary constraint to implementation of further programming is funding. A potential threat could be the looming real estate prices in San Francisco and how that could play a role in the Manilatown Heritage Foundation maintaining its current space.

Current Points of Interpretation and Accessibility

The International Hotel Manilatown Center contains a rich interpretive landscape inside the community center space. In addition, the International Hotel Manilatown Center has an open space where Filipino and other peoples come and practice intangible heritage such as dancing and singing. Much of the installations in the International Hotel Manilatown Center provide information about the struggle against eviction. There are installations, photographs, and cabinets that contain historic documents.

ITEL_communityevents (1)

The Manilatown Center inside the International Hotel holds intangible heritage events such as dancing.

Factors that structure accessibility for Bay Area residents specifically are threefold: I-Hotel Community Center hours of operation and the Manilatown Heritage Foundation website. I-Hotel community center hours of operation are Wednesday through Sunday from 12pm to 3pm. The Manilatown Heritage Foundation Website is http://manilatown-heritage-foundation.org/. The website contains information about I-Hotel and programs and services that the Manilatown Heritage Foundation offers at the I-Hotel Community Center. In addition, the website offers web-based services such as an email listserve.

 

Albany Bulb Landscape Videos

One of the amazing aspects of the Bulb is the natural landscape. These videos captured by Briana Flores show the natural beauty of the Bulb as well as some of the sculptures left by artists. Former residents and community members still enjoy theses visual masterpieces daily.

Walking Tour

1923 block book showing house and surrounding area

As much as Davis House is the focus of our heritage projects, it doesn’t exist as an island. Rather, its history closely mirrors that of the surrounding neighborhood, and so any exploration of the site’s history is incomplete without looking at this house as part of a larger community.

It is with this in mind that we propose a neighborhood walking tour that incorporates audio and visual augmented reality technologies to bring history to the ears and fingertips of visitors. Much like the DeTour programs available in other parts of the Bay Area, this tour involves a cell phone app that instructs the visitor on where to go, and what to see. Narration guides the visitor along a predetermined path, with explanations of local history along the way.

Undated color postcard of International House and surrounding neighborhood

Augmenting all of this are aural and visual cues that help to more fully evoke the past and present of this area. In the century since Davis House was first built, this hillside has gone from quiet canyonland to bustling enclave of student life. What did it sound like 100 years ago? What might it have sounded like to walk past frat houses on game day in the 1920s?

This immersion also helps visitors more fully explore questions of racial exclusion, gender discrimination, community evolution, and the notion of progress over time. How did International House, at the bottom of the hill, shake up what had been an all-white neighborhood? How did sororities serve the growing female student body at the University of California? How might they have come to represent something outmoded? And when the co-op system radically altered the face of the neighborhood, was it all forward progress, or did some of these same questions still remain?

The goal of this walking tour is not to answer these questions in full, but to leave visitors with a critical understanding of the complexities of student life. This speaks not only to Berkeley’s past, but to the future of student life everywhere.

Interpretive Plan: I-Tel

My interpretive plan focuses on community outreach and education. My goal is to get kids and students interacting with the I-Hotel at an early age, fostering a personal connection with the site in a manner defined by the individual. Later on, I would provide students with the opportunity to grapple with the physical site’s legacy of community organizing and solidarity, with the hopes of them becoming stewards for the site and leaders for both the Filipino American community as well as other community organizations.

Short Term Plan:

 

My plan will focus on 3 levels of outreach, revolving around the theme of I-Tel, emphasizing the importance of telling individual and shared stories. I-Tel days are bi-monthly events open to families and their children, each with a corresponding theme, such as ‘Family’ or ‘Community.” At the elementary level, the center will host a monthly I-Tel day, where families can bring their children for storytelling of Filipino folk tales, stories from the Manongs (original I-Hotel residents) and other community members of their time in the Philippines. In doing so, parents will have a free recreational activity for their children that fosters a personal connection to the physical space.

ITel_JC_photo_17

Mock up of I-Tel Arts & Crafts

At the intermediate level (6th to 8th grades,) I-Tel days will give young adults more agency in sharing their stories. Manilatown will turn the tables on who is telling the story by giving the students an opportunity to share their experiences via arts, crafts, and poetry/ language arts. The theme for intermediate level students will build upon the day’s theme by adding a more specific subtheme.

ITEL_JC_InternshipBlog (1).pngMock up of I-Tel Internship Blog

At the high school/college level, the internship program will have a new curriculum that aims to foster critical and well-informed leaders that have a greater understanding of the context of the I-Hotel. Each week will have a learning objective and corresponding reading material. To share this learning, there will be a weekly blogging/ vlogging prompt to be published on the official I-Tel tumblr blog. In doing so, this learning can be shared with the greater public.

Long Term Plan (25 Years):

The goal of my interpretive plan is to get the next generation of Filipino Americans to invest into the I-Hotel’s legacy and mission of bringing justice to the Filipino community at an early age. The elementary level activities depend upon volunteers, which can be leveraged off the internship program. At the intermediate level, the I-Hotel could publish an anthology of select student poetry, in addition to digitizing the art and literature onto their website for fresh content. From the internship program, as well as the collective of students that are ‘raised’ with the I-Hotel, I hope that a handful will feel compelled enough to give back to the program by leading it in the future. With the I-Hotel becoming a more distant event in the past, these programs will utilize the fall and rise of the I-Hotel as main learning point, but will focus on the a grander concept of shared heritage and community solidarity.

Filipino Migration and Social Mobility

The proposed interpretive project is an audio/video installation to be located along the west wall of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation Community center. Currently, on this wall there are mounted architectural remains from the original I-Hotel building in addition to framed photographs and a plaque that has the names of former I-Hotel residents. The audience for this installation will be people who visit the Manilatown Heritage Foundation Community Center. As such, people visit the center for different purposes either to volunteer, curate materials, participate in ongoing events, facilitate community meetings, and other activities that involve formal and informal meetings. This audio/video installation will give primacy to the human sense of vision and the human sense of hearing to convey information. Visuals will be displayed through an overhead projector and projected onto the wall. Audio will be played back through mountains speakers in the rafters overhead.
Figure — Tony Robles points describing the mounted installation in the Manilatown Heritage Foundation Center

iTel_MC_photo14.png

Tony Robles describing the International Hotel brick installation inside the Manilatown Center.

The project is titled “Filipino Immigration and Social Mobility in the San Francisco Bay Area and the United States of America” and it is an audio/visual installation. This type of installation is commonly used in museum and interpretive center settings. Generally, the installation consists of a screen, an overhead visual projector, audio speakers and a playback device. The visual projector and the audio speakers are linked to a playback device–a DVD player or computer–and the digital file from the playback device is rendered visually to the screen and kinetically to the speakers.

The proposed playback time is 15-30 minutes and will consists of a synthesized story of Filipino immigration to North America, history of I-Hotel in San Francisco, interviews with former residents, interviews with the children of former residents, and maps that show the concentrations of Filipino people in the Bay Area and in the United States. This synthesized story will pool resources available to staff at the Manilatown Heritage Foundation Community Center and will develop new resources through the production of visuals and interviews. First step in the development of this installation is an inventory of materials that have information about immigration and social mobility in the archives and an inventory of the skills and training available at hand from staff members and volunteers who work at Manilatown Heritage Foundation Community Center. This step identifies the equipment, materials and skills and training needed to complete the project. Furthermore, this step helps to develop a timetable for the completion of the project. Thereafter the project is split into phases. Phase one consists of digitization of archival materials (if needed) and procurement of audio/visual equipment and construction of installation. Phase two consists of research, design and rendering of infographics/maps that show how the Filipino population has changed in socioeconomic and residential status since the inception of I-Hotel. Phase three consists of interviews with former residents and their descendents. And Phase four consists of production of the proposed synthesized story–storyboarding, drafting, critiquing, and approval from the Manilatown Heritage Foundation board of directors.

ITEL_screengrab_MC.png

A mockup of Manilatown Center brick installation. Images will be projected on bricks.

Short Term (5 years):
This project contributes to the sustainability of not only the Manilatown Heritage Foundation Community Center, but also the sustainability of Filipino heritage in San Francisco. This proposal has to potential to pool resources that are available–archival materials held in trust by the Manilatown Heritage Foundation–with new equipment and skills to facilitate the creation of this installation. As such, it helps train staff and make materials accessible to visitors which overlaps with the themes of social justice activism, community organization and labor rights. The message conveyed through this installation presences Filipino history within San Francisco thus contributing to the sustainably of Filipino heritage more generally in the Bay Area.

Long-Term (25 years):
The changing demographics of the San Francisco Bay Area are changing rapidly. The International Hotel Manilatown Center is one of a handful of places that showcase social justice and equity within the rapidly gentrifying San Francisco urban landscape. Over the long-term then, the skills and training gathered and distributed with this installation works towards fashioning a longer vision for the Manilatown Heritage Foundation. The skills and training offered through the creation of the installation in terms of content and performance offer the chance to create new workflows for other aspects of the foundation. To continue the longevity of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation, this installation acts as an incubator of skills and training that work from within to continue the sustainability of International Hotel.

Appraisal: Community

jon1.png

The I-Hotel is first and foremost linked to the Manilatown Heritage Foundation, which manages its legacy. The rise of the I-Hotel is attributes to collaboration amongst various community organizations, which the Manilatown Heritage Foundation continues to do with community organizations, government agencies, and educational instituions through program collaboration in the spirit of its rebuilding. National interest in the site stems from the over 3.5 million Filipino Americans whose resilient history is embodied by the fall and rise of the I-Hotel. International interest stems from the over 7 million Filipino migrants who have relocated throughout the world, yet share a similar experience to the Manongs who occupied the I-Hotel after migrating to the United States. On a grander scale, communities of color can relate to the solidarity embodied in the I-Hotel movement.

jon2

The I-Hotel’s current stewards serve on a volunteer basis and train future stewards through an internship program. However, the site struggles with garnering an investment from the next generation, as many of its current stewards are older. The Foundation relies on data provided by the narratives of the original tenants of the I-Hotel as well as accounts from others that were involved. The foundation invests much of its time and energy into educating its visitors via galleries, tours, and programs. Improvements can be made for visitors to access digital content via the internet. The shift in demographics has caused the I-Hotel to be located in a largely Chinese American community, and thus its programs do not directly serve its surrounding neighbors, raising a contestation between historic location versus current situation. However, it is not to be said that these neighbors are not welcome to these programs.

A large Filipino American population resides in the SoMa district, and the location is easily accessible by means of public transportation. In terms of the site as a destination, there is a need for a clearer distinction to be made between the I-Hotel and the Manilatown Heritage Foundation, as the former is a residential building not affiliated with commemorating the site’s legacy. A docent can provide a guided tour of the new I-Hotel, however, much of the information to be grappled with is located in the Manilatown Heritage Foundation center, located in a separate space at the first floor of the I-Hotel. Because of the not-for-profit model of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation, it is accessible to various economic backgrounds, but not necessarily sustainable as a financial entity. It has a minimal impact on the environment and does not output a significant amount of waste from its programs. A primary constraint to implementation of further programming is funding. A potential threat could be the looming real estate prices in San Francisco and how that could play a role in the Manilatown Heritage Foundation maintaining its current space.

Description

The new International Hotel building is a senior residential complex and a community center. Additionally, the site is listed on the U.S. National register of historic places (NRHP). The new building is bounded between Chinatown and the Financial District where a few blocks away from the city’s iconic Transamerica Pyramid is and represents the last vestige of San Francisco’s historic Manilatown. International Hotel consists of 104 residential units for low income senior citizens. The majority of these residents are Chinese, but other Asian Americans also live at International Hotel. The International Hotel Manilatown Center is also located in the building. The International Hotel Manilatown Center is a community center that is run by the Manilatown Heritage Foundation and it is the place was active heritage work takes place. The International Hotel Manilatown Center is an exhibition and community space that serves the citizens of the City and County of San Francisco. The Manilatown Heritage Foundation sponsors events and programming that promotes Filipino heritage and social justice.

Appraisal-Significance of the Place

Values/Mission: According to the Manilatown Heritage Foundation’s official website “The mission of Manilatown Heritage Foundation is to promote social and economic justice for Filipinos in the United States by preserving our history, advocating for equal access, and advancing our arts and culture”. In full support of the Filipino community and other community-based organizations, the Manilatown community upholds certain democratic and liberating values as follows:

  •  Bridging cultures and generations
  • Encouraging critical conversations within the community –
  • Building community across generations by fostering cultural roots grounded in history and guided by the love of community.
  •  Maintaining organizational integrity and respect.

Management Assessment: The Board of Directors of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation are the primary stewards of the International Hotel Manilatown Center. They are:

  • Tony Robles, Board President
  • Caroline Cabading, Vice President & Acting Executive Director
  • Theresa Imperial, Secretary
  • Desu Sorro, Treasurer
  • Chelsea Mariotti, Board Member
  • Carmencita Montecarlo Choy, Board Member
  • Carlos Zialcita, Board Member

They are responsible for ensuring the continued existence of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation and the programing at the International Hotel Manilatown Center. Constraints: A fundamental constraint that the Manilatown Heritage Foundation faces is the lack of funding. The heritage foundation is currently a non-profit organization and heavily relies on donations to maintain open doors. The Manilatown Heritage Foundation is run primarily on a volunteer staff basis, which leads the foundation to have shorter visitation hours and tour guides available. Another paramount constraint The I-Hotel faces is the reality of the changing demographic. The I-Hotel faces the issue of reaching out to a population that has been physically dispersed over the years as well as broadening their social mission to include individuals who were not part of the initial population group. Opportunities: The Manilatown Center is located on the ground floor of the I-Hotel, serving the community in multiple ways. The space is defined as fluid and flexible place for gathering, remembering, and interacting. Along with displaying new upcoming artists the Manilatown Heritage Foundation also hosts talk stories, book signings, music events, private non-profit rentals, legal clinics, senior movies, performances, and much more. Moreover, there is also an extensive archives program, which digitally documents historic audio, video, photos, and news articles pertaining to Manilatown and the struggle for fair housing.