In the early 2010s, a handful of grassroots organizations working in Asian immigrant and refugee communities on the East and West coasts began meeting for mutual support. They started by simply sharing what each was doing, what was working and – perhaps more importantly – what wasn’t. Here was a peer group that could understand how difficult it is to organize diverse Asian working-class people whose lives are filled with struggle, who have so little power in American society. The founders of what became Grassroots Asians Rising asked themselves and each other: How can we build our capacity, resources, and movement infrastructure? How can we build cross-sector and multiracial solidarity more broadly?
Through subsequent convenings, leadership circles, peer learning exchanges, and strategy sessions, a national alliance began to take shape. By 2017, Grassroots Asians Rising had become a training ground for healthy organizational development as well as an essential political laboratory. For example, several groups early on were wrestling with the destabilizing effects of deficits and internal conflict. A more experienced group was able to step up and offer hard won lessons in both financial management and human resources. In addition, they shared practical tools that, unlike most, were tailored to fit movement groups. For the receivers, this knowledge transfer in the form of spreadsheets, salary scales, personnel manuals, and practices to detoxify the work culture combined to create much healthier forms of accountability. For all participants, GAR became where they could open up about what was really happening inside their organizations and get concrete help.
In July, we will host GAR’s 2023 National Convening for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. During this convening, we will continue to experiment and learn with organizations who are expanding safety beyond policing, building the leadership of working-class communities, and developing our skills in membership-led governance and decision-making.
GAR member organizations: check your inboxes for an invitation to our National Convening!