APANO West is one of our newest locations and first office West of the Willamette River. We sat down with Jairaj Singh, our Community Outreach manager to learn more about what APANO’s presence means in Washington County.
Q1: So where can I find APANO in Washington County?
JS: Our presence in Washington County is still in its nascent stages.
Thanks to the City of Beaverton Cultural Inclusion & Community Services team: Alexis D.R. Ball – Equity and Inclusion Manager, and Paolo Esteban – Equity Specialist and former APANO employee, APANO was able to get situated in Washington County with our first temporary office space. We are currently transitioning locations of temporary work spaces and have an office space at Kinnaman Townhomes in Aloha, Oregon, thanks to the support of Leah Cooper, Director of Housing Operations, from Innovative Housing Inc. The Kinnaman Townhome space will play a crucial role for our upcoming field work around Census 2020 and the 2020 elections.
Starting February 21st, 2020, APANO will be leasing out our first official office space at Cascade Plaza West in Beaverton, Oregon primarily for our Census 2020 operations and field work, and will continue to be used by our Community Development team, thereafter.
Q2: Can you tell us what were some of the things that led APANO to expand into WashCo?
JS: The primary reason, and the short answer, is that many of our AAPI identified community members and volunteers who live, work, play and pray in Washington County are requesting APANO to organize and build power with them there.
As an organization, we are aware that Washington County has the largest and most concentrated AAPI identified population in the state of Oregon, but this is not necessarily represented in the leadership of the political, cultural, and economic systems in the region.
Many elected officials, organizations, and leaders in Washington County are now prioritizing social justice issues because of the seminal and groundbreaking community-based participatory research report known as ‘Leading with Race’ from the Coalition of Communities of Color (CCC). The support of organizations and governmental agencies, including: the City of Beaverton, CCC, Mercy Corps Northwest, Metro, and Vision Action Network (VAN) has allowed APANO to conscientiously build trust, work with, and alongside, the AAPI identified communities in Washington County.
pictured above: Jairaj Singh at a 2019 South Asian Listening Circle in Washington County
Q3: As you’ve started building your base in Washington County, what are you hearing from people are the forefront issues?
JS: Almost every social justice issue has arisen from the communities we have been working with, and there is intersectionality to all the issues we are hearing about in Washington County. The information and stories we have heard are based on the listening circles, focus groups, research and one-on-one interviews we have been conducting in Washington County over the past few years.
Ultimately, what we have been hearing has already been eloquently summarized by CCC’s ‘Leading with Race’ report: “People of color have always lived in Washington County. We are part of the economy and social fabric. It’s our home and we like living here.”
Q4: How is APANO working towards some of those issues?
JS: There is a lot of important and innovative community organizing work that is already happening, and has been happening, in Washington County, and currently APANO is continuing to scope out and experiment within this ecosystem to figure out how we can cultivate and activate strong communities without reinventing the extraordinary work that is and has been happening. The next year is truly focused on building trust with the communities in Washington County and to relay the message, through our actions, that we are here to nourish the strong roots that exist and unite our AAPI power while uplifting our unique stories and struggles. From Census 2020 to the 2020 elections, APANO is setting the foundation for building AAPI civic power, shifting dominant narratives, and acting as an AAPI advocacy and resource hub in Washington County.
This past year APANO has joined a newly formed partnership with other culturally specific Washington County organizations, and it is known as the Washington County Racial Equity Collaborative (WC-REC). The goal of the collaborative is to increase the level of engagement of people of color in the county in order to enrich and strengthen the broader Washington County community.
Q5: I live in Washington County! How can I get involved with APANO?
JS: Lets chat! I would love to learn more about you and your interests first, and then find the best way to plug you into our work in Washington County. Contact me, Jairaj Singh (Community Outreach Manager) at [email protected].