A couple weeks ago, GAR held Lotus and Rice: Growing the Pan-Asian, Working-Class Ecosystem, our National Convening, in Los Angeles, CA! We brought together 32 grassroots organizations to boost our collective capacity to improve the lives of working-class pan-Asian communities across the United States.
This Convening was a crucial space for organizers to:
Cultivate strong movement relationships with each other.
Ground ourselves in working-class pride.
Build a national working-class, pan-Asian movement.
“Nothing replaces having an on-the-ground strategy,” Doha, Organizing Manager with Asian American Advocacy Fund in Georgia, told us. “We have to work in community and in relationships [in order] to be able to improve people’s material conditions...I feel a lot more equipped and ready to take these learnings home.”
With in-person Convenings like this one, we unite grassroots organizations together to learn from one another and strategize together, and we are able to grow the skillsets of our membership to more effectively organize in their local communities. Neighborhood by neighborhood, city by city, state by state, we are striving towards a shared vision of a sustainable, powerful, and progressive national working-class pan-Asian ecosystem.
We are so grateful to our member organizations that shared and facilitated throughout the Convening.
DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving, New York), SEAC Village (North Carolina), CCED (Chinatown Community for Equitable Development, Los Angeles), and AAU (Asian Americans United, Philadelphia) set the groundwork for us by illustrating our current political, economic, and social landscape and its impacts on our working-class communities.
Jakara (California), CAAAV (New York), and Adhikaar (New York) shared their strategies on building working-class bases and retaining membership, something that has been particularly difficult since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
DRUM and APEN (Asian Pacific Environmental Network, California) were vulnerable in sharing how they are developing leadership pathways and healthy transitions in their organizations, encouraging other organizations to share their challenges.
We are wary of the increasing power and influence of the small, but vocal and growing, contingent of conservatives within Asian and Asian American communities. To strategize on this, Equality Labs, Lavender Phoenix, AROC (Arab Resource and Organizing Center), and CPA (Chinese Progressive Association) shared their learnings from organizing in San Francisco and California, and what it has taken to build the decades-long movement to demand and sustain a more progressive California.
SEAC Village and CPA gave examples of how they are building non-carceral responses to violence against and within our communities. Organizations reflected their challenges of having honest conversations with their working-class members about abolishing policing, and how leaning on their communities and building bases must be at the forefront of our work if we want safer homes, schools, and communities.
Our climate is in crisis and Asian countries and other third-world nations will be amongst the largest groups of climate change refugees in the next several decades. APEN brought in our allies at Climate Justice Alliance to emphasize how it is necessary for working-class, pan-Asian organizations to adopt a framework on climate justice in our organizing.
Our final session, facilitated by DRUM, APEN, SEAC Village, and PWC (Pilipino Workers Center, California), grounded our hopes for the future in work that we are already doing. Our member organizations closed out our Convening by sharing the strategies, conversations, and hopefulness that they are excited to bring back home to their local organizing and communities.
So, what’s next?
SHARING WHAT WE LEARNED
We have learned so much through the Convening – and we’re excited to share back those learnings with you. Make sure to follow us on social media where we’ll be sharing more about what went down during our Convening!
PRACTICING WHAT WE LEARNED
The hard work doesn’t finish with the Convening, GAR has just started because it’s time to turn our learnings into strategies and tactics on the ground. In October, we will be launching Planting Lotuses: Translating the Asian American Racial Justice Toolkit. GAR is translating the Toolkit into 11 Asian languages, including Hindi, Nepali, Tagalog, Bangla, Korean, Hmong, Chinese, Arabic, Punjabi, Vietnamese, and Khmer. We are creating the resources and tools to more effectively reach and organize the most-impacted and most-marginalized of our communities–in line with our 2023 Convening theme, we are planting lotuses.