image is of Arista Burwell Chen!

Did you know that May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month? The month of May was officially designated as AAPI Heritage Month in 1992 to recognize the contributions and achievements of AAPI communities! That’s why the fam at FEEST is honored and proud to spotlight the amazing Arista Burwell Chen, who is one of the incredible humans who make our organization what it is! Check out below to learn more about Arista, their dreams for liberation, and what brings them radical joy!

Arista Burwell Chen is: 

  • Chronically ill in every sense of the word (like disabled but also chronically cool ?)
  • Mixed race
  • A Capricorn/Scorpio/Gemini combo (hello queers!)
  • Very tall
  • Not on the internet unless it’s for work (she didn’t know who Ed Sheeran was until this year when she heard him on a Burna Boy song)
  • A Seattle local – born and raised in the Central District!

Arista is committed to: 

    • Power in the hands of working-class, Black, and Brown communities!

Arista Loves:

  • Anime
  • Keeping her 489 day streak alive on Duolingo
  • Plum Village Zen Buddhism
  • Dwayne The Rock Johnson
  • Rollerblading around Jefferson Park in the sun
  • Platform Doc Martens 
  • A good heist storyline 
  • Decluttering – her ideal room is one that is empty >:) 
  • Hot takes
  • Social generosity 
  • Eating good food in the Central District, Chinatown-International District, and the Southend

What does Liberation Look like to you? What does it feel like, smell like, sound like, and taste like?

Oof, what a light question! First things that come to mind…

  • Power in the hands of our people.
  • Resources are distributed equitably.
  • Economic, racial, and environmental justice 
  • Being able to fully enjoy the present moment knowing that you, your family, and community are healthy, safe (in every sense), and have support to stay that way.

There’s a Thich Nhat Hanh quote I love that says: “There is no path home, home is the path.”

It’s so deeply rooted in our capacity to grow and adapt. Maybe this is the Buddhist in me, but I don’t know that liberation is a finite place you reach because the work never stops, right? There will always be systems to improve and material changes to win, but even if every system was perfect and there was no economic, racial, environmental, ableist injustice, we’d still need to be putting in the work to maintain the right systems and be in right relationship with each other and the Earth.

So in my mind, collective liberation is something that’s waiting for us on the other side of our commitments and campaigns, but it’s also a practice, and it’s possible to embody our vision right now. Liberation is where we’re headed but we can also move through the world in a liberatory way. 

Cultivating and recognizing lightheartedness and joy, being able to sit and be present with yourself, your emotions, speaking to others in a way that recognizes their journey on the path and yours, those are moments of joy and growth to savor along the way. The path is our home!


Arista’s Radical Joy Offerings:

I’m truly not on the internet, but this video of a Wushu master watering his plants brings me so much joy!

I also recently stayed at a Plum Village Monastery for a couple weeks, and when I was there I saw one of the monastics fluffing the flowers that were blooming. Now fluffing the flowers I see out in the world is one of my favorite things to do!

image is of Arista and a friend dressed up at Sakura Con
image is of Arista sitting in a tulip field under a blue sky

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about our incredible team, and how they view Liberation, and their joyful offerings! 

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