SAN DIEGO – A community event will be held in San Diego’s dynamic Little Saigon Cultural and Commercial District along El Cajon Boulevard in City Heights on Saturday, April 27 to commemorate the final installation of Little Saigon Stories, a multi-media art project honoring San Diego’s Vietnamese-American community. The free all-day event will also include walking and restaurant tours of the Little Saigon District as well as a postcard-writing station for the international community art project PostSecret.
Little Saigon Stories is a visual story-telling project that has collected the stories of local Vietnamese refugees and their descendants who have lived and worked in San Diego’s Little Saigon District along El Cajon Boulevard since the 1970s. The project was facilitated by the Media Arts Center San Diego, in collaboration with the AjA Project, Little Saigon Foundation and El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association. The program was made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and California Humanities, with additional support from LISC San Diego and the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.
The April 27 event marks the final installation of the traveling exhibition, which will be unveiled at a pop-up art gallery at 4481 El Cajon Boulevard, in the heart of the Little Saigon District. A public gallery opening reception will be held at the site from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., featuring the Little Saigon Stories photo exhibit, film screening, artist meet-and-greet, cooking demo, Vietnamese bingo, coffee and tea and raffle prizes.
The event will also showcase the District’s dynamic business community through guided walking tours (at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.), as well as a self-guided “food crawl” with printed tour maps of Little Saigon’s many mom-and-pop dining establishments.
Additionally, a postcard-writing station will pop up at the intersection of El Cajon Boulevard and Menlo Avenue from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as part of the PostSecret community mail art project currently on exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Art. For over a decade, the anonymous storytelling project has gathered postcards from millions of people from all over the world to create a unique work of handmade art that releases their secrets into the world.
Admission to all of the day’s events are free and open to all.
Little Saigon Stories was designed as a platform for youth to capture, preserve and share the first-hand accounts of inter-generational members of San Diego’s Vietnamese-American community. Over the past 1.5 years, program facilitators have trained high school students and young adults to conduct oral history interviews, develop their story-telling skills through video and photography, and engage with community residents to discuss their memories of Vietnam, journeys to the United States and rebuilding of their lives in San Diego.
An online digital archive of stories will be made available at www.mediaartscenter.org/littlesaigon.
About Media Arts Center San Diego
Media Arts Center San Diego (MACSD) endorses the inclusion of under-represented communities in the media arts field and the portrayal of accurate images of these communities by mainstream media. MACSD promotes community access to and use of media technology for community self-expression and social change, and supports the professional development of media artists. More information is available at www.mediaartscenter.org.
About The AjA Project
The mission of The AjA’s Project is to provide photography-based programming to transform the lives of youth and communities. The AjA Project exists to ignite change, break cycles of marginalization and build healthy communities. The AjA Project does this through a creative platform called participatory photography that asks participants to reflect on and analyze their personal and social landscapes. More information is available at www.ajaproject.org.
About the El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association
Formed in 1988, the El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association is an economic development agency comprised of over 1,000 local small businesses committed to improving the physical and economic conditions along the El Cajon Boulevard corridor and its surrounding neighborhoods in Mid-City San Diego. The district encompasses 60 blocks along El Cajon Boulevard, from Park Boulevard to 54th Street, including the communities of University Heights, North Park, Normal Heights, Kensington, Talmadge and City Heights. More information is available at www.theboulevard.org.
About the Little Saigon Foundation
The Little Saigon Foundation of San Diego started in early 2009 with a mission to revitalize the densely populated Vietnamese business district of El Cajon Boulevard. The Foundation aims to give these small business owners the recognition they deserve for overcoming the many socioeconomic, cultural and language barriers it took to establish their businesses and to create a welcoming environment for the Vietnamese community on El Cajon Boulevard by officially renaming the area Little Saigon. The Foundation’s website is currently under construction at http://littlesaigonsandiego.org.