• Storytelling Spaces of Solidarity in the Asian Diaspora
    Tonia Sing Chi

Tonia Sing Chi conducting oral history interviews, 2022. Digital image. Courtesy Tonia Sing Chi

This initiative engages Asian diasporic designers and leaders in learning, building, and practicing intra- and inter-community solidarity. Part public memory work, part educational resource, and part working toolkit, this project looks at the Asian diaspora through the lens of transcultural space, creating connections (not equivalencies) between Asian diaspora histories and the histories of Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. Stories centering Asian voices engaged in transracial activism are collected through oral history interviews and convenings. The gathering of stories is rooted in the belief that shared knowledge is a form of mutual aid. While it is important to amplify Asian voices, which are historically erased from our national consciousness, this project foregrounds Asian experience as inherently bound to other BIPOC communities. The freedoms that some of us have been afforded are predicated on the oppression of others. This unsettling reality structures Asian solidarity as a process of undoing and uplifting.

Through her creative practice Peripheral Office, Tonia Sing Chi works at the intersection of built environment storytelling, place-based building practices, and reciprocal, cross-cultural approaches to architecture and preservation. She holds an MArch and a master’s of science in historic preservation from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where she received the Charles McKim Prize for Excellence in Design and the KPF Paul Katz Fellowship. She has taught community design-build at University of California Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design and actively partners with local organizations advocating for food and housing justice in the San Francisco Bay Area/Ohlone territory, where she is from. Chi is an instructor and core organizer with Dark Matter University. She is also a founding member of Nááts’íilid Initiative, an Indigenous-led, coalition-driven nonprofit strengthening the cultural and economic resilience of Dinétah through self-reliance initiatives in the built environment. They have been awarded the Monument Lab Re:Generation Grant (2022) and the NDN Community Self-determination Grant (2021.)