Alternate 1985

10.19.2007

Over the past couple of months, you may or may not have noticed various discussions and executions that were loosely linked to a concept labeled "future artifacts". Below are participant instructions for one of the scenario events. The supplemental information may help to alleviate your ongoing "what the fuck?" inquiries. You, too, are experiencing a scenario "reveal" ...

This email is going to you because you have expressed an interest (or are someone we think would be interested) in participating in our upcoming art/futures intervention in Chinatown this Friday.

Eine Kline background (call us or come by the futures office for further info):

* The HRCFS was awarded a small grant to conduct at least one alternative futures workshop for Chinatown. It will take place in early November and it's open to residents, business owners, workers, students, and any and all parties interested in exploring possibilities for the district (and beyond) and trying to create better futures for themselves and those to come.

* Leading up to this workshop, seeking to create interest and (more importantly) to get people thinking about futures both passionately and critically, we will be 'seeding' the physical space of the neighborhood with manifestations of four possible futures. There will be no planned 'announcements' or official acknowledgment of the source of the objects. There will be no 'flashing arrows' that these strange happenings are orchestrated, connected in any way, or that there is a greater purpose behind it. That will all come later.

* With the help of MANY talented and generous designers and artists, we have produced 'future' artifacts in various media. We'll be employing multiple strategies of distribution and revelation over the coming weeks. The goal is provoke thought about possibilities by utilizing media, design, and anachronistic objects in the everyday environment. In its varying instances, we call this ambient foresight or future-shock therapy. (always willing to discuss these ideas with creative and brilliant people such as yourselves!)

The event:

* The first 'event' of the project takes place this Friday (tomorrow, October 5) in Chinatown. It is based on a scenario in which Chinatown is 'under attack' by highly motivated, and solely profit-driven, developers who are quickly gobbling up prime real estate and leasing these spaces to what some would consider undesirable newcomers (chain stores, luxury condos, franchised 'theme' restaurants, etc). We've talked with many people who live and work in Chinatown during our research, this scenario is by far the most prevalent and most feared image of its future. Well, guess who's coming to dinner?!

* As might be expected, no move of this import could go unnoticed or unchallenged. A campaign is under way to raise awareness of the direction the new developers (without public input) are taking Chinatown. The development company is Aloha Land & Water. Therefore, you'll have some materials that say Save Chinatown, Stop Aloha.

* The 'Save Chinatown' coalition is planning a rally for this First Friday at the corner of Nuuanu and Pauahi from approx. 5-8pm. That is where you all come in. Those of you who have agreed, or are planning to attend will become part of the 'Save Chinatown' rally. We are making buttons, t-shirts, postcards, and custom fortune cookies that will be available to wear and distribute to the masses on First Friday. People need to know that Chinatown is being turned into Waikiki, and that is your mission.

* This gathering is not meant to be in any way aggressive or overly confrontational. Your job is to make this story seem believable so people will take it seriously. We want people to examine their own assumptions about Chinatown and think about what kind of place they want it to be.

Some thoughts on rationale. strategies and behavioral guidelines for participants:

* Please avoid breaking the "fourth wall", indicating this is an orchestrated event. You can and should plausibly maintain that as far as you know, a development corporation called Aloha Land and Water is taking over Chinatown and has just revealed its plans. Most of our success will come from the shock (or joy) from people that this is really happening. If someone is on to the fact that this is a 'staged' event, that's ok, roll with it but shift the conversation to the "real" issues you think are important in this scenario--and not that fact that someone 'planned' it. We're not trying to 'fool' people in order to embarrass or confuse them. This is a project to try to get people to "SEE" what a hyper-developed Chinatown might look and feel like. We happen to think this method will be effective (and affective).

* We don't want to be dismissed as a "mere" art or academic exercise before people are confronted by the artifacts and performances. Ambiguity, uncertainty, and emotional response are friends at this point.

* It is VERY important then, to please keep everything quiet until we do our major reveal later in the month. If you are inviting friends and people from further degrees of separation, it is a protest and awareness-raising event you're attending (or a performance art project you can be vague about).

* Come to the event with your own views, but try to keep the discussions around the "in-story" issues at hand: Chinatown, development and globalization, alternative paths for urban spaces, cultural appropriation, gentrification, etc. You are playing yourself, simply in a version of Honolulu 2007 where what could well happen any time now actually is happening. Buy into the scenario, accept it, and live it as if it were your current world. (Not a difficult task as we've all likely seen this kind of gentrification scenario take place).

* There will be clear evidence of Aloha Land & Water's plans and of the new businesses moving in throughout Chinatown (large 'coming soon' signs, new building permits, etc). Use this as a conversation starter and verification of its reality.

* Many people will be there because of the ad in the Weekly. If you are asked about who is behind the rally, it will be easiest to say you are there because of the ad too.

* Also, unless told otherwise please wear a black top.

* But, we'll need at least a couple of you to be "official" Save Chinatown representatives. Let us know if you are interested in doing that, so we can do some further preparation. The rest of you will receive extra instructions from them in advance.

Thanks for being involved -- can't wait to get underway ...

And for the love of all that matters, have FUN out there!

PS We can provide the full written scenario to anyone who's interested, but meanwhile the key point is clear enough: think about why Chinatown matters to you and to Hawaii, as a historic, cosmopolitan neighborhood. What would be lost if it were to be turned into a Waikiki-like tourist hub? (Things that could be gained from that change may be very important too, and attractive to some -- but they play into this in other ways.) If you can come up with a few of your own reasons and go to those in your discussions, you'll be all set to spread the key message -- that Chinatown needs to be saved.

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