Are you a DREAMER or more of a PRODUCER?

By Rev. Norman Fong

March 5, 2018

“Sum Serng See Sing!” is my favorite Chinese New Year’s blessing (next to “Sun Tai Geen Hong”). I find that most people are “Dreamers” who can easily come up with ideas or dreams for a better future… However, there are a lot of folks who don’t want to waste time just dreaming but actually like to make things happen – they are more like a “Producer”. Like Movie Producers who make the Dream or Story become real on the Movie Screen. Which one are you? A person with great ideas (Dreamer) or do you like more doing the implementation and hard work to get it done (Producer)? Maybe you are a little of both?

A lot of the “Producer” type folks are actually quietly behind the scenes taking a lot of time to make it happen. You also don’t do it alone. Someone has to draw up the plans, get the money, hire a lot of different types of workers to get it done. Like at the end of the movie, there’s always a lot of people listed in the “Credits” in small print that makes it all happen, even though the “Movie Stars” get most of the “fame”.

 new portsmouth square
A rendering of the new Portmouth Square from the Portsmouth Square Improvement Project

Working here at Chinatown CDC, there are thousands of people behind the scenes to get projects done and make dreams more real. We can dream of a new Portsmouth Square, a new Ping Yuen Housing Development, Cleaner alleyways, New Pedestrian Safety lights to better protect our kids & seniors crossing the street… but it takes a lot of work just to change a street light. It took a lot of people and companies & schools to put on the wonderful Chinese New Year Parade last week.

We can dream dreams of a more beautiful Chinatown, more affordable housing & thriving small businesses & restaurants for Chinatown, but it can take years of hard work and everyone has to believe in the dream to make it work. For “us” Producer types, sometimes we face “road blocks” to making our dreams come true. I remember, for example, going to Washington DC a few times with our Chinatown seniors to advocate for the Central Subway. We went to hundreds of meetings in San Francisco and got yelled at by some neighbors who didn’t want the subway. It’s taken so many years to get it built and the city, who believe in the dream are having problems on the “PRODUCING END”. We all can’t wait to see it “done”. We need more producers – for sure.

chinatown plaza central subway
A rendering of the Central Subway Chinatown Station

ping yuen
Ping Yuen

 north ping yuen
North Ping Yuen

Learning from our biggest housing project – renovating the Ping Yuen, I am so thankful for the staff of Chinatown CDC who patiently work with all the residents to help them move out to a temporary new place and then bring them back to their newly remodeled units at the Pings. I’m thankful for the residents who have to bear with so much noise with construction constantly going on. I’m thankful for the construction workers, property management & services staff… the housing developers… all the accountants , maintenance workers, social services staff… Phew! It’s so much work & noise, for sure… but looking at the changes to the very old buildings… from pipes to new kitchens… new community & laundry rooms… new security systems… in the end, thank God for both the dream but the unspoken heroes & producers behind the scenes. Mayor Lee asked us at Chinatown CDC, to produce his dream of a renewed Ping Yuen…. A renewed Portsmouth Square & a Chinatown subway & station. We need more producers to support & fulfill the dreams. Can some of you out there – join us as “producers”? How & who you vote for can make a difference. In the future, there will need to be an open space bond that we will all have to vote for to get funding to rebuild Portsmouth Square. We need to continue advocating for the subway to be finished soon. We need people to volunteer or donate to help run good programs at the Pings or for Families living in Single Room Occupancies (SROs) in Chinatown. There’s so much more we do just to fulfill the “Dreams” that have already been set before us. “Sum Serng See Sing”.

Originally published in Sing Tao Daily on March 4, 2018

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