Sustainability Means Equity

Most people, when asked, think that sustainable growth is about going green.  And that’s true – partially.  Sustainable growth goes well beyond environmental issues.  Sustainable growth entails making sure that our communities are still thriving 30 years now and with a quality of life greater than today’s.  Sustainable growth is providing all Americans with equal access to education, jobs, and healthcare, so that their communities flourish.  In short, we must have equity.

Sustainable growth is not a new concept for Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs).  We come from families who have lived sustainably on the same landscape for thousands of years.  Passing valuable lessons down through the generations, our ancestors taught us we cannot sustain personal wealth at the expense of our health, our environment, or our community’s well-being.

For the AAPI community, sustainable growth is becoming increasingly important.  The AAPI population grew faster than any other race in this country over the last 10 years – a whopping 43 percent.  This population explosion creates an urgent need to get AAPIs to the table and engage them in the national conversation.

In one week, we will do just that.  The White House Initiative on AAPIs will bring together federal and local experts on entrepreneurship, technology, education, and innovation to raise awareness of federal resources and create opportunities for sustainable growth.  Best of all, we will do this in Seattle, a city leading the way in sustainability initiatives that span farming, health, education, and green technology.

At the Sustainable Growth Summit on July 8th at North Seattle Community College, business owners, educators, community organizers, and students will gather to hear from government representatives who can connect them to right resources.  And even more importantly, they will hear from practitioners who bring a bagful of inventive ideas for community development.

As members of America's tapestry, AAPIs have a vested stake in these conversations around sustainability, both in our uniquely important perspectives as well as in the dire consequences that our exclusion will entail for not only our communities but for the nation as a whole. Truly, we have an opportunity to frame these conversations so that communities and, ultimately, families are empowered to be their own and most effective agents for positive change in our society.

Hyeok Kim and Kamuela Enos serve on the President’s Advisory Commission for AAPIs.  For more information on the Sustainable Growth Summit or to register, please visit

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