[thinking out loud]
Not directly related to alley revitalization discussion, but this article captures pretty much what has been in my mind recently. It is not until recently that I started to embrace the mild bi-culturalism in me: I have been pretty much away from home since I entered college and the annual trips home have been more like vacations escaping the reality of the adopted home countries. In other words, sometimes I am confused if I am “qualified” to call myself a local of any respective place I have lived in.
I keep holding this aspiration about building or remaking Viet Nam, yet straddling between cultures and being separated by distance mean I do not know Viet Nam, or specifically Sai Gon – Ho Chi Minh City, as much as I would like to. There is a lot of literature on place attachment and there are a lot to say about what I like to call “local wisdom”, and I think whereas the former might persist regardless of distance, the latter must be cultivated in place over time.
And then there is this concept of local/place narrative. Ideas about any particular place are as much personal as they are collective. If there is such a system for alley revitalization, aside from the physical mapping that even Google Maps cannot handle plausibly, what would be an effective tool for collecting local stories and uphold local identities in the processes of restructuring and renewing? How am I coming in the study of Sai Gon’s alleys as both an estranged local and an abroad-educated student researcher?
Or more honestly, how many more years can I spend away from home to still keep knowing home and make an effective contribution to it?