Chicago Foodies – There’s a new community initiative that elevates Asia on Argyle’s vibrant rich and dynamic history and seeks public and private partnerships to continue amplifying AAPI voices, foster community collaboration, and bridge cultural divides in Chicago
As a response to the two ongoing pandemics, Covid-19, and that of xenophobia and racism, Southeast Asian community organizers just launched Celebrate Argyle, a hyperlocal community initiative that celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) individuals, restaurants, and businesses in Chicago’s Asia on Argyle district in Uptown.
With nearly 3,800 reports of anti-Asian verbal harassment, violence, and murder, AAPI-targeted hate crimes have increased compared to previous years, despite overall hate crimes decreasing during the pandemic. Two-thirds of crimes against AAPI are committed against women, making them disproportionately targeted.
From Grassroots Food Banks to A Community Initiative Amplifying AAPI Voices:
The idea for Celebrate Argyle began during COVID-19, when Sany Nguyen, a food blogger and lifestyle influencer who amassed a large following through her social media brand “Sany Delight”, connected with her networks and resources and all throughout 2020, created food pantries in Pilsen and Uptown as a response to the food deserts occurring because of Covid-19. After four food pantries in Asia on Argyle in Uptown, where they provided food to over 400 families, she began looking at the long-term effects of Covid-19 in Asia and Argyle. That coupled with a spew of Anti-Asian violence and rhetoric growing, Sany recognized that Asia on Argyle was struggling to survive that expanded far beyond food.
In Summer 2020, Sany reached out to DishRoulette Kitchen, a 501(c)(3) that supports locally-owned restaurants from the ground up and proposed an initiative that would highlight local restaurants and those who make up that community in Asia on Argyle.
Meet the CELEBRATE Argyle Team:
Celebrate Argyle is the brainchild of five Southeast Asian American community organizers from refugee families lead the initiative: Sany Nguyen, Trang Truong-Hill, Jennifer “Nuky” Pham, Hac Tran, and Hoan Huynh.
In addition to community organizing, they currently have full-time jobs in the fields of law, nonprofit management and consulting, small business entrepreneurship, urban planning and community development, and impact investing/social innovation. The team also consisted of a few Southeast Asians born and raised in Uptown, Chicago, and refugees from Vietnam. Argyle is home for all of them.
Celebrate Argyle- The Positive Impact:
Businesses have been the primary sites of discrimination, accounting for 35% of hate incidents reported. One of the objectives in Celebrate Argyle is to shift longstanding false narratives detrimental to the AAPI community to more authentic narratives that acknowledge not only the socioeconomic struggles, but also the beauty of diverse AAPI cultures, customs, and traditions.
“We understand how important revenue is right now for restaurants to stay afloat. Fortunately, we were able to receive funding from DishRoulette Kitchen, and we provided $750 grants to restaurants to help with their general operating costs and maintenance,” Sany Nguyen, Creator and Co-Founding Member of Celebrate Argyle shared.
Since Summer 2020, Celebrate Argyle has hosted several food distribution days with culturally relevant food options and information cards for those most left behind during this pandemic: the elderly, disabled, BIPOC, those experiencing homelessness, and formerly incarcerated, and immigrant and refugee populations. Restaurants included: Pho Loan, DaNang Kitchen Nha Hang Vietnam, Cafe Hoang, and New Orleans Seafood.
Ways to Stay Connected & Help Asian Communities:
Celebrate Argyle encourages individuals and allies to take action by learning AAPI stories and histories, donating to AAPI organizations, speaking up against anti-Asian rhetoric, and supporting small businesses.
For more updates and to support Celebrate Argyle, follow them on social media. They will be highlighting new restaurants and businesses often on the platform, encouraging individuals to support these local businesses, and continue to frequent Asia on Argyle.