The city of Lowell announced about a year ago plans to identify the Palin Plaza area of the Lower Highlands neighborhood “Cambodia Town” in an effort to brand that sub-neighborhood with an ethnic identity reflecting its residents and businesses and also to create a possible tourist destination. It seems that Long Beach, California, (the one city in the US with more Cambodian-American residents than Lowell) has already employed the name for one of its neighborhoods. The Long Beach initiative seems to be a private organization that is closely supported by local government. Here’s its mission statement as shown on its website:
Cambodia Town’s mission is to use Cambodian cultural customs and traditions to change the social and economic well-being of residents and business owners in Central Long Beach. By preserving the Cambodian heritage, we give hope and a strengthened identity to our children, and by empowering the community, we promote the revitalization of our neighborhoods.
While the Cambodia Town in Long Beach is farther along than the one in Lowell, street signs identifying the district only recently went up in California (shown in the above photo from the Phnom Penh Post). The placement of those signs was a cause for celebration in the Cambodian community as reported in this article in the Phnom Penh Post. The article also reads like a short history of the Cambodian odyssey to America and would be as applicable to our Cambodian neighbors here in Lowell as it is to the Californians who are the subject of the piece.