What will it take to build communities rooted in healing and safety? – APIENC’s Theory of Change
Dear APIENC Community,
Since 2017, APIENC has been guided by a set of priorities and directions crafted by APIENC staff in order to help the organization make decisions about where to focus our power and grow our work. In the time after the 2016 election, this framework felt critical—there were so many issues to focus on, with only so much capacity. Now, we are in another moment of deep crisis. We are mourning the lives of 8 people—and 6 Asian women—tragically lost to white supremacist violence in Atlanta. We are witnessing continued deportations of Southeast Asian migrants and refugees. Our trans API communities face crises of isolation and violence daily. All this reminds us that our work must be rooted in a vision of true safety and liberation. To be effective in reaching this vision, we need to be strategic about how we spend our time. This has always been true within APIENC.
That original set of priorities and directions was made to last through 2020. At the beginning of last year, we began to think about creating new guiding directions and building strategy skills across the organization, especially given the findings from our TGNC API Needs Assessment. Through the grief of white supremacist violence, COVID-19, and climate disaster, re-strategizing became even more necessary and even more daunting.
We partnered with our friend Michael from the Wildfire Project, and came up with a 6-month process for Core Committee members—staff and volunteer leaders from across the organization—to set APIENC’s new 5-year directions. It was a big proposal: conversations spanning months, 4-hour Zoom calls on the weekends, and plenty of deep learning and reflection. This was the largest strategy process we’ve held as an organization, and as intimidating as this seemed, it was also an incredible opportunity to build a plan rooted in the visions and experiences of members from across the organization. Together, we named our conversations “Strat Chats.”
Over the course of our Strat Chats, Core members gathered online to assess our conditions, name our strengths, and determine the most pressing needs. We started by articulating our strengths and transformative potential. We assessed the needs of our community by reflecting on our lived experiences, the Up to Us Report findings, and all the recent data on COVID-19 disparities. We spent time learning about other organizations in our movement ecosystem and deconstructed the role of different forces in a movement. We moved through fears about making big decisions and planning for the future during such an uncertain present. At every step in the process, we grounded in our lineages, resourced ourselves in daily acts of wisdom, and embodied our collective power.
With that love and legacy, we are excited to bring you our Theory of Change. From our discussions and analysis, we identified the overlap between what our communities need and what we excel at doing. This idea, this theory, is how APIENC is best positioned to create change. It’s our Theory of Change!
APIENC is a bridge between personal transformation and political work to meet our needs. Grounded in the histories and experiences of trans and queer API people, our role is to build movement leaders across oppressed communities.
We will grow the number of people who participate in and lead movements rooted in values, history, emotional intelligence, and compassion. Ultimately, this work will allow us to support movements to be more effective, and sustainable, AND build a movement culture that is skillful at healing and creates long-term solutions.
This framework is a synthesis of not just the past 6-months of conversation, but of many years of hard-won organizing lessons. This past week has shown us how important it is to move into our power and advance our vision of safety and transformation. You may ask – what does this mean for APIENC moving forward? Over the next year, we’ll be adjusting our work to be in line with our long-term plans. You can expect movement-wide leadership development trainings, new committees focused on community safety and healing justice, and many more opportunities to build skills and community. Our 2021 goals, which you can see alongside our Theory of Change in this document, outline some of our upcoming plans to appreciate generations of labor, deepen our skillsets, and transition to the next phase of APIENC.
We are so excited–and nervous!–to offer this framework to our whole community. This isn’t just an announcement, it’s also an invitation. To actualize our plans and build true communities of care, healing, and safety, we’re going to need you. Will you join us on this journey by donating resources, boosting social media campaigns, or joining one of our committees?
With love and in Solidarity,
Sammie Ablaza Wills