Dec 2023 Newsletter: Stronger in unity and connection!

Dear community,

Happy Dongzhi Winter Solstice to you and your families from all of us at CPA! This year, we have shared many special moments in action with our communities.

In the face of budget cuts to programs that are critical to our communities, hundreds of us gathered at City Hall and told our stories – restoring $5.5 million in funding to CPA. We engaged in deep discussions about community safety and restorative justice, learning how to better communicate and respond when harm occurs. When thousands in the Bay Area took to the streets to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, we rose up in unity to demand an end to the war and a free Palestine. We saw again and again: When we unite, we have the strength to shape our everyday conditions.

Photo of CPA members, staff, SRO families, and Sisterhood Gardens after advocating at City Hall for our budget in June!

Over the past year, we reached out to thousands of workers, hundreds of SRO families, and deepened connections with Chinese and Asian American workers, youth, immigrants, and families all across the city. We told intergenerational stories and moved into the next chapter of our story by celebrating CPA’s 50-year history and DNA, and moving into our new home on Kearny St.

Reflecting back on our 50th anniversary, one of our OGs, Ben Lee, said: “One of the discussion topics was how do you envision CPA in 50 years. My response was when I was 25 years old 50 years ago, I asked myself the same question. I’m fortunate enough to live long enough to answer the question. With folks here today, CPA is still adhering to its founding mission and making social changes today.”

As we lay the grounds for organizing in 2024, our communities have a say in deciding what our future should look like. We want peace, solidarity, and safety for our families and communities. We believe that together, we have the vision and skills we need to build an even more powerful movement and a safe, thriving future.


Chinese Progressive Association

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Goodbye and Hello: Highlights from CPA’s 2023!

SB 497 Passed Into Law!

With our multiracial alliance at CA Coalition for Worker Power, worker leaders advocated for SB 497, the Equal Pay and Anti-Retaliation Act! Read more here. Ailan Xie, TWC leader and Outreach Organizer, was one of the workers who traveled to Sacramento to advocate for the bill. “Speaking with elected officials so they understand workers’ voices and support bills to protect workers’ rights, strengthens our power.”

Protecting Our Homes: SRO Workshops

After 3 years of pause due to the pandemic– this year, we resumed and conducted fire prevention workshops in 9 different SRO buildings, with over 300 residents participating! This year, CPA grassroots staff also organized SRO families to take on leadership roles in CPA committees and give public comment in June during budget advocacy!

Exploring Mental Health & Wellness

Over the summer, youth leaders created “Ama-zine” – a zine about mental health, especially for other Asian American youth and youth of color.  Michael, Summer 2023 youth leader, reflected, “During MOJO, I liked the conversations we had about mental health… I learned that resting is a gift, and everyone has their own way of resting.”

ICYMI: We Moved!

Goodbye Grant Avenue- and hello again Kearny St! This year, we celebrated 50 years of movement building, and undertook a big transition from our office of the past 20 years on Grant Avenue.

Our old office holds memories of key campaigns from launch to finish, generations of grassroots leaders, and elevator mishaps. CPA kids grew up there, and our community grew as organizers, leaders, and friends in that office. For many of us, it was a second home.

But as Le Tim Ly, former CPA Deputy Director, said at our Grant office send-off: “I think that really, it’s the people, all of us who have been part of CPA that made this space what it has been. And so… we’re going to bring all of our passion to that new space, and it will become another home for us and for many other generations of CPA folks coming through.”

As we close out the year of the Water Rabbit, we look back at all the ways we have adapted to meet the needs of the moment and develop our movement. We’re excited to bring that energy to our new space, and the next 50 years. Stay tuned for our Office Warming in 2024~

Forging a More Connected World

Despite local narratives about San Francisco’s “doom loop” which have been used to advance political agendas harmful to our communities, we have seen everyday people work to make the city a better, more connected place.

We believe that we’re only safe if everyone in our communities is safe – from the unhoused, to queer and trans people, to working families of color. At CPA we have been working with our members to learn alternative methods to accountability that address the root causes of harm, instead of incite more violence. We recently began our 3rd round of restorative justice learning groups with Chinese and Asian American adults and youth! Hear from one participant:

Jing Li is a CPA member who participated in our Spring 2023 restorative justice classes. She heard of the cohorts from her SRO Organizer, Yoyo.

“Before the course, I didn’t know what restorative justice was. Now I understood it as a people-centered system where we can deeply explore the impact of disputes through dialogue…. Emotions are an opportunity to engage everyone harmed and in the process, find solutions that build trust and relationships.”

One session that stuck out to her was when youth and adult participants came together and reflected about their learnings together. She was moved by hearing youth reflect how they wanted their parents to communicate with them better. She said, “It allowed me to reflect on myself, when communicating with my son, have I thought about it from his perspective?”

Everyone deserves a safe and thriving future, in the Bay Area and beyond. As we continue to fight for safe, connected communities at home in the Bay Area, and call for an end the genocide in Gaza and a Free Palestine, we know: we are only safe when we are all safe, and only free when we are all free.

Youth Power! Spotlight

Laura is a current 12th grader at Lowell High School. Over the summer, she was introduced to CPA through a friend. She appreciates Enoki Collective and Youth MOJO as spaces for youth to have conversations and participate in discussions. “To me, youth organizing means creating opportunities for our issues and voices to be heard, for example, [student] walkouts. Enoki is a starting point for me, because it’s educational and a safe space to nurture dialogue.”

Two political education topics that stood out to Laura from Enoki and MOJO were: power and patriarchy. They learned to see them as intertwined issues, and said: “I felt inspired by the way power was framed as something we all have as people organizing – and that it’s very possible to face systems of oppression, instead of feeling powerless.” 

As we gear up for Spring programs, youth like Laura continue to deepen their leadership, analysis, and connections in spaces like Enoki Collective and MOJO. Stay connected with our youth programs here!


Building People Power in Our Elections

Earlier this year, CPA and CPA Action Fund held a joint canvass program in various San Franciscan neighborhoods- the only deep canvass program in the nation focusing on immigrant, working class Chinese voters.

Deep canvassing is a way to engage with voters through storytelling and personal values, in order to create common ground. Our 7-person team held over 400 in-language phone and in-person conversations on their most pressing concerns and priorities about community safety. After speaking with our canvassers, over ⅓ of respondents increased their support for alternative solutions, especially solutions addressing mental health and public education.

As we move into the next year of local and national elections, we need to continue engaging our communities, in-language, to have a say in the everyday conditions of working families.

Recently, Tenant Worker Center leaders discussed CPA’s grassroots endorsement process and brainstormed ways we can get ready for 2024. One leader, Qiuting, said, “I joined CPA around election time [last year], and I didn’t know much about the ballot then… We need to outreach and educate people about what is important about the ballot!”

Let’s Get Ready for 2024!

Join Our Movement

CPA is hiring for 3 folks who are looking to build power with working-class Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans, as a part of a multi-ethnic, multi-racial movement! Please apply and share!