Lipo Chanthanasak is being honored as a Champion of Change for his efforts as a Community Resilience Leader.
I came from a place so remote most people would have trouble pointing to it on a map. I left school in Laos at sixteen to support my family by farming, fishing and hunting on the land that I loved. But the Vietnam War interrupted these peaceful pursuits.
To protect the people and the land I loved, I enlisted with a special guerilla unit alongside American soldiers. From the battlefield to the frontlines in the fight for our planet and people, I’ve never backed down from a just fight.
In 1978, under threat of captivity and persecution at home in Laos, I left all I had known. I lived in a refugee camp in Thailand until 1991, when I came to this country for the promise of freedom and opportunity.
As a refugee and new immigrant in the United States, I was excited to engage in a peaceful democratic process to affect the change I felt was important. I joined the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) to champion environmental justice, local renewable energy, and fair jobs. APEN not only works with Asian and Laotian communities, but also with other communities to fight for our rights, promote equal opportunity, and develop a stronger community for our children and many generations to come.
At APEN, we are doing what we can to accelerate America’s path toward a clean energy future.
We are hopeful that our leadership will move policymakers in capitals across the world to protect people and our planet from carbon pollution and the destruction of climate change.
In my 70 years of life, I have discovered that we are all willing to fight for what we love. Far from giving up because the problem seems too large, we must model what it means to love our planet, our country, and our home. We must demand clean air and good jobs. As a leader with APEN, I will continue tearing down the barriers to health and climate solutions and help communities in need.
Together, we can capture the best of the American spirit as community leaders battling for the Earth and the health and welfare of our fellow Americans.
Lipo Chanthanasak is a Community Leader with the Asian Pacific Environmental Network and has been championing renewable energy, pollution reduction and public health for the past decade.