John "Enger" Cheng serves as creative director of Inheritance. He is a Los Angeles-based artist, designer and illustrator. He graduated from the University of Southern California Roski School of Fine Arts and is co-founder of Winnow+Glean. You can see his illustrative work and store at madebyenger.com.
Reading the plaques that detailed their stories of reclaiming tribal land and lifeways was both empowering and humbling. The connections between colonization and national parks became increasingly clear.
Chinese grandmas, like mine, actually do have lighter carbon footprints than the average American. Those in San Francisco Chinatown, for instance, use half as much energy as other city residents. We can learn from their ways, both in their lifestyle and in their care.
Did my ancestors ever think of Oakland that way: as a place Native Americans once called their own? Perhaps they saw a wooden Indian in front of a cigar store, or a poster for a Wild West show, and somebody explained to them that those were the people who were here first.
These over-the-top acts of neighboring in Seoul, by people who would be strangers in any other context, weren’t driven by any utilitarian or ideological function. They didn’t demand that I somehow prove my belonging first before intruding into my life in ways usually reserved for intimate relationships.
I am reminded that community is found when we take risks and share authentically about our own culture, ethnic heritage, history, and stories. And as we share our stories, others are able to join us in community as well.