Two pieces of very good news
As world leaders at COP28 debate corporate schemes to keep burning fossil fuels, APEN is fighting for climate change solutions led by communities on the frontlines of climate disaster. This year, solutions that our communities have dreamed about for decades are finally becoming real.
One example that I am thrilled to share: Lincoln Square Park and Recreation Center, the heartbeat of Oakland Chinatown. Last month, APEN helped secure $9.25 million in public investments to build a new, larger Resilience and Recreation Center that will keep our Chinatown community safe during times of climate disaster.
The new Lincoln Rec will be able to provide cooling, warming, clean air, backup power, food storage, and emergency information and trainings in the languages people speak at home – before, during, and after disasters hit. This is how we keep each other safe.
Outside Lincoln Rec in Chinatown. Photo by Jonathan Fong and Friends of Lincoln Square Park.
The new Lincoln Rec isn’t the only dream we saw come true this year. I also want to share with you some exciting news from St. Mary’s Gardens, an affordable housing complex for seniors just a few blocks away from Chinatown.
Over a decade ago, APEN members began to notice a big problem with the transition to solar energy in California: solar was only accessible to big corporations and wealthy homeowners, and our communities were getting left behind in the green transition.
In 2015, our members and staff helped write and pass Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH), a historic $1 billion investment in solar for renters. Since then, we have been working on implementing SOMAH to make sure that these resources actually benefit working-class communities of color living on the frontlines of climate change.
That brings us to St. Mary’s Gardens. A few of our Chinatown members live at St. Mary’s, and APEN reached out to the manager at St. Mary’s a few years ago to see if they would consider applying to the program.
Earlier this year, St. Mary’s had their solar panels installed with funds from SOMAH – and working-class residents are already seeing big savings on their electricity bills. For residents who have suffered from poor air quality from wildfires and the nearby highway, it feels especially meaningful to be able to help create a cleaner, more livable neighborhood.
Residents at St. Mary’s Gardens learning about the SOMAH program. Photo by John Brecher.
This is what is so special about APEN’s organizing. We don’t just pass bills. We develop the leadership of our working-class Asian immigrant and refugee members, help lift up their voices alongside communities across the state in demanding solutions, and follow through to make sure that investments like SOMAH actually end up benefiting the communities who need them most. We have deep roots in the community and build the long-term relationships we need to fight for cleaner, more livable neighborhoods over the long term.
This is the kind of transformative organizing that you make possible by donating to APEN.
But transformative organizing takes time and resources – and this is just the start. The climate crisis is only getting worse, and we’re working to build resilience at home, where we work, and where we gather, like at resilience centers like Lincoln Rec, rooted in the vision and demands of our communities. We have a long way to go to make sure communities like Chinatown aren’t left behind in the transition to clean energy.
Our members are going to keep dreaming big, because we know that today’s dreams can become tomorrow’s reality. But there are big fights ahead, and we need people like you to stand with us today to make those dreams real.