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Voices at the Intersection: Valinda Chan

Recently, Julie Mowrey our Digital Media Manager had the privilege of speaking with Valinda Chan about the importance of AAPI representation in the climate justice space.

Growing up Valinda witnessed the disproportionate impacts of air pollution, housing displacement, and food insecurity. Today living in East Boston, Valinda sees similar issues facing their family’s community.

Valinda is a passionate organizer and advocate who works at the intersection between environmental, racial, economic, health, and housing justice. Valinda’s work has focused on supporting their community as a leader of Mothers Out Front East Boston, Mutual Aid Eastie, and a founder of the Logan Community Clean Air Coalition. Through practical interventions such as installing air quality sensors to collect data and air purifiers in home daycare centers, Valinda takes an approach that unifies diverse perspectives to address the impacts of air pollution beyond climate and environmental spaces.

Here, Valinda shares how becoming a parent spurred their clean air work, and how important community is to change-making work and family well-being.

My AAPI identity is intrinsically linked to my passion for climate justice and language justice. Growing up as the child of immigrant parents in a community where inequities were normalized, I witnessed firsthand the disproportionate impact of environmental and social issues on communities of color. My family and I faced high levels of air pollution in our homes and schools, struggled with forced displacement, and experienced food insecurity among other challenges.

These experiences highlighted the urgent need for equitable solutions that address the unique challenges faced by marginalized communities. Living in East Boston today, where the majority of residents are Latino and many are immigrants, I see the parallels with my own background and the importance of ensuring that all marginalized voices are heard and addressed in climate justice efforts.

Additionally, my commitment to language justice plays a crucial role in my work, as I strive to make information accessible in the languages spoken by the most marginalized in our communities to make sure we are being truly inclusive in our work.

To ensure inclusivity in the climate justice movement, it’s essential to amplify AAPI voices and other marginalized groups in meaningful ways. This includes providing platforms for marginalized voices, addressing burdens faced by community members, and creating culturally relevant materials and community spaces. Building partnerships with AAPI organizations and community leaders is also crucial, fostering collaboration and mutual support. By prioritizing diversity and inclusivity, the movement can better reflect and address the needs of all communities, ensuring that everyone has a voice and a stake in the fight for climate justice – especially those most affected, including AAPI community members.

To those interested in climate activism, I would say that every voice and action counts. Climate justice is interconnected with many other forms of justice, so co-create and advocate for solutions that are inclusive and equitable.