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Ron Chew

Ron Chew

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Ron Chew is a consultant and community organizer in Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Seattle is the county seat of King County, Washington. With 608,660 residents as of the 2010 Census, Seattle is the largest city in the Northwestern United States. The Seattle metropolitan area of about 3.4 million inhabitants is the 15th largest metropolitan area in the country...

  Chew is a leader in the community based model of museum exhibit development.

Biography


Ron Chew was born in Seattle and attended Franklin High School and University of Washington
University of Washington
University of Washington is a public research university, founded in 1861 in Seattle, Washington, United States. The UW is the largest university in the Northwest and the oldest public university on the West Coast. The university has three campuses, with its largest campus in the University...

. At the university Chew studied journalism and worked as a reporter at the Daily
The Daily of the University of Washington
The Daily of the University of Washington, usually referred to in Seattle simply as The Daily, is the student newspaper of the University of Washington in Seattle, USA.-History:...

. In his senior year he applied for the position of editor but faculty gave the position to a white student who hadn't applied, prompting Chew to formally charge the Daily with discrimination. Shortly after, Chew left the UW to work at the International Examiner
International Examiner
The International Examiner is a free biweekly Asian American newspaper based in Seattle, Washington's International District. It was founded in 1974 by Gerald Yuasa and Lawrence Imamura to serve what the founders thought were the business interests of the Asian American community in Seattle's...

in Seattle's International District
International District
International District can refer to:*International District *International District, Seattle...

. Ultimately the lawsuit vindicated Chew but he did not return to UW to finish his studies.

Chew worked as a reporter at the Examiner beginning in 1975 and in 1977 became editor. During his tenure he covered local events, social concerns and political issues faced by residents of the International District
International District
International District can refer to:*International District *International District, Seattle...

 including inadequate housing and health care for the poor and elderly and threats from redevelopment to the historic neighborhood. Chew's connections and involvement in the community through the Examiner honed his interest and skills in community organizing for a cause.

In the late 1980s Chew took on the Chinese Oral History Project, gathering numerous interviews with elderly Chinese Americans. The project became a traveling exhibit and led to his being recruited in 1991 as the new director for the struggling Wing Luke Asian Museum
Wing Luke Asian Museum
The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience is located in Seattle, Washington's Chinatown-International District. A Smithsonian Institution affiliate, it is dedicated to engaging the public to explore issues related to the culture, art and history of Asian Pacific Americans...

 (WLAM).

Under Chew's guidance, WLAM developed the exhibit Executive Order 9066: Fifty Years Before and Fifty Years After in 1992, tracing the stories of Japanese Americans in the Pacific Northwest
Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest is a region in northwestern North America, bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains on the east. Definitions of the region vary and there is no commonly agreed upon boundary, even among Pacific Northwesterners. A common concept of the...

 from their earliest settlement, through their World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 internment
Japanese American internment
Japanese-American internment was the relocation and internment by the United States government in 1942 of approximately 110,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese who lived along the Pacific coast of the United States to camps called "War Relocation Camps," in the wake of Imperial Japan's attack on...

 and afterward. The exhibit relied extensively on volunteer community input and was the first WLAM exhibit to place personal stories at the center of exhibit narrative. It received wide acclaim and became the template for exhibit development at WLAM. Since then, WLAM has produced numerous community-based exhibits using the ecomuseum
Ecomuseum
Ecomuseums originated in France, the concept being developed by George Henri Rivière and Hugues de Varine, who coined the term ‘ecomusée’ in 1971...

 model, highlighting the personal stories of ordinary people as historical actors in order to personalize larger social, political and economic events.

In 2002 the University of Washington recognized Chew's innovative work since leaving school and awarded him an honorary Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 Degree. In 2004 Chew received the Ford Foundation
Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation is a private foundation incorporated in Michigan and based in New York City created to fund programs that were chartered in 1936 by Edsel Ford and Henry Ford....

s "Leadership for a Changing World Award" and in 2005 the American Association of Museums
American Association of Museums
The American Association of Museums is a non-profit association that has brought museums together since its founding in 1906, helping develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and advocating on issues of concern to the museum community...

 included Chew in their "Centennial Honor Roll" for his work recasting the museum as a tool in the fight for social justice
Social justice
Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by...

.

In 2004 Chew, along with his staff, board and community volunteers, undertook a substantial expansion of WLAM by working toward acquiring a historic building in the International District as a permanent home for the museum. A successful $23 million capital campaign enabled the museum to purchase and renovate the East Kong Yick Building
East Kong Yick Building
The East Kong Yick Building is one of two buildings erected in Seattle, Washington's Chinatown-International District by the Kong Yick Investment Company . A four-story hotel in the core of the ID, with retail stores at ground level, the East Kong Yick was created by the pooled resources of 170...

 as their new home, which opened in 2008. At the conclusion of the campaign, Chew stepped down to pursue a new career as a community history consultant.

Since 2008 Chew has owned and operated Chew Communications, a community history and resource development consulting firm in Seattle. From 2008 to 2010 he was also scholar in residence in the museology
Museology
Museology is the diachronic study of museums and how they have established and developed in their role as an educational mechanism under social and political pressures.-Overview:...

 department at the University of Washington. In 2009 Chew published Community-Based Arts Organizations: A New Center of Gravity through Americans for the Arts
Americans for the Arts
Americans for the Arts is a nonprofit organization whose primary focus is advancing the arts in the United States. With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, it has a record of more than 50 years of service...

 outlining the emerging centrality of arts organizations as change agents in communities. Presently he serves as Executive Director
Executive director
Executive director is a term sometimes applied to the chief executive officer or managing director of an organization, company, or corporation. It is widely used in North American non-profit organizations, though in recent decades many U.S. nonprofits have adopted the title "President/CEO"...

 of the International Community Health Services Foundation in Seattle.

See also

  • Wing Luke Asian Museum
    Wing Luke Asian Museum
    The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience is located in Seattle, Washington's Chinatown-International District. A Smithsonian Institution affiliate, it is dedicated to engaging the public to explore issues related to the culture, art and history of Asian Pacific Americans...

  • International District
    International District
    International District can refer to:*International District *International District, Seattle...

  • International Examiner
    International Examiner
    The International Examiner is a free biweekly Asian American newspaper based in Seattle, Washington's International District. It was founded in 1974 by Gerald Yuasa and Lawrence Imamura to serve what the founders thought were the business interests of the Asian American community in Seattle's...

  • Ecomuseum
    Ecomuseum
    Ecomuseums originated in France, the concept being developed by George Henri Rivière and Hugues de Varine, who coined the term ‘ecomusée’ in 1971...


External links