Civic engagement in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community
By Heidi Park
For Northwest Asian Weekly
Washington state faces a $4.8 billion budget deficit, and our community cannot afford to sit on the sidelines. We must engage friends, families, neighbors, and ourselves on issues of education, economic development, and health and human services. If we don’t speak up for ourselves, how can we be sure that someone else will?
As a community organizer, I have had the privilege of talking to many different AAPI communities across the state through the Washington State AAPI Civic Engagement Initiative. From the Pacific Islander community in Pierce County to the Filipino American community in the Yakima Valley, we all agree that we’re facing tough times.
The aim of the AAPI Civic Engagement Initiative was to build advocacy skills through hands-on activities, like developing public speaking skills and working on how to meet with policy decision makers. We helped demystify aspects of the government and the role it plays in our lives, our communities, and our state — using education as an example to examine how public policy works.
The initiative rolled out 11 civic engagement workshops over the course of three months.
Though the initiative has concluded, the time for engaging our communities is now. We need to continue to educate ourselves. We need to work together to make our communities more than the sum of our parts.
To help, you can:
— Meet with a policy decision maker.
— Attend public hearings. There are currently many opportunities.
— Organize your own community forum, conduct your own workshops with materials we used in our initiative. We can also send you more information.
Additionally, don’t forget that AAPI Legislative Day is in February. Plan on participating with us by going down to Olympia. ♦
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/pages/WA-State-AAPI-Civic-Engagement-Initiative/124355180956415.
Heidi Park can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.