What does home feel like to you?
Home is such an important concept in APEN’s work. In the past two weeks, over 1 million people in Gaza have been pushed out of their homes by the Israeli government, and over 8,000 have been killed. The Palestinian struggle is an environmental justice struggle, and APEN stands in solidarity with the people of Palestine. Check out this blog post to learn more and find out how to take action.
Earlier this month, at APEN’s Leaders Advance – an annual gathering of our member leaders and staff – I found myself in a story-sharing circle with two APEN youth leaders from Richmond and three elder leaders from Oakland.
Nestled in a sunny redwood grove, eating cake from a Chinatown bakery, we practiced sharing stories and listening to each other. The question was: “What does home feel like to you?”
Our elder Chinatown leaders were eager to speak – and out of all the things they could have said, what they shared surprised me.
“APEN feels like home,” one of our leaders shared. “APEN is a place where my voice is listened to. Where we are connected with each other, like a family.”
This is exactly what we are trying to do at APEN: build connection and solidarity across neighborhoods and generations, and lift up our voices together for a better future, a better world.
APEN Chinatown leaders at a story-sharing circle at the Leaders Advance. Photo by Joyce Xi.
After sharing stories, we spent much of the Leaders Advance discussing APEN’s strategic vision for the coming years. I left with two huge takeaways:
1. We are living in a moment of tremendous possibility.
Solutions we have dreamed about for decades are finally becoming real: solar panels are being installed on affordable housing where our members live, and resilience centers are opening in our neighborhoods that we can turn to for resources when disaster strikes. A future beyond Chevron, a future where our communities can thrive, is within reach.
2. The fossil fuel industry won’t go down without a fight – and we have to take the fight to them.
In 2021, the Western States Petroleum Association, the oil industry’s biggest lobby group in California, brought in $31 million in revenue. We are up against a giant.
The oil industry knows that they are on the way out – and they will do everything in their power to continue to pollute. In our neighborhoods and across the state, they are working overtime to roll back the clock, undo hard-fought legislation and create new loopholes that will allow them to pollute for longer.
They want to make the status quo – their pollution making us sick – permanent. We can’t let them.
That’s why, in 2024, we are taking the fight to them. We will be hitting the streets from Richmond to Los Angeles, talking with our neighbors about a future beyond oil. From the ballot box to the legislature in Sacramento, we will fight for bold solutions that hold the fossil fuel industry accountable and invest in healthy neighborhoods in which our kids and grandkids can thrive.
To do that, we need your help. We don’t have the money that the oil industry does. But we have each other – and we have you.