Speak Out Against Proposed Solar Ranch Near Manzanar!

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I strongly urge anyone who is available to come out to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power THIS SATURDAY to make your voice heard!  This project would impede upon the cultural landscape of the Manzanar Historic site.  See Press Release below

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LOS ANGELES — A public information meeting will be held on Saturday, November 16, 2013, at 10:00 AM, at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles where members of the community are urged to speak out against a proposed solar energy generating facility that would be built near Manzanar National Historic Site.

The LADWP’s proposed Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch Project is a 200-megawatt solar energy facility that would consist of solar photovoltaic panel modules and associated infrastructure. The approximately 1,200-acre project site is located on City of Los Angeles-owned property east of the Owens River, but in a direct line of sight with the Manzanar National Historic Site, whichlies to the immediate west.

The Draft Environmental Impact Report is available at http://www.ladwp.com/envnotices.

The Manzanar Committee believes that the proposed solar ranch would destroy a significant portion of the historic landscape surrounding Manzanar National Historic Site.

“The importance of maintaining and enhancing the physical characteristics of the Manzanar National Historic Site cannot be downplayed or overlooked,” said Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey. “One of the most powerful parts of Manzanar is the unobstructed view, and that many of the structures, gardens and other features of the World War II American concentration camp have not been bulldozed over or destroyed by ‘development.’”

Craig Tomiyoshi, Vice President of Public Affairs for the National Board of the Japanese American Citizens League, echoed those concerns.

“The Manzanar site is not only an important piece of the Japanese American story and experience during World War II, but also a visible reminder to all Americans about the importance of protecting the civil rights and liberties for all,” said Tomiyoshi. “The natural environment surrounding Manzanar plays a huge part in preserving for future generations the context of what those incarcerated at that site might have felt at that time.”

“I would strongly encourage anyone concerned about protecting the cultural landscape of Manzanar to attend this Public Information Meeting to let decision makers know why building the project on the proposed location is wrong, and encourage them to consider alternate sites,” added Tomiyoshi.

A coalition of community groups and individuals are working to ensure that the politically powerful LADWP, which owns the vast majority of the land in Owens Valley, understands their concerns and the implications of building the solar ranch in such close proximity to Manzanar.

“It’s easy after all these years to put what happened to the Japanese American community during World War II on the back shelf, as more ‘pressing’ or ‘important’ events occur,” Embrey noted. “If we are complacent, all the hard work of so many will be for naught. Tule Lake is facing a similar situation where the Federal Aviation Administration is attempting to build a fence that would bisect the site. Now, a massive solar farm with thousands of solar panels could distract from, and negatively impact, the Manzanar National Historic Site.”

“The Manzanar National Historic Site stands as one of the most impressive, thorough exhibits on the Japanese American incarceration experience,” Embrey added. “The National Park Service staff does an incredible job, day in and day out, of telling the story. It is essential that LADWP hears and understands the impact such a massive project would have on the site.”

“So many people fought so hard, endured and persevered to make sure our story, our history, is told and never forgotten. We have to be vigilant that none of that is denigrated in any way.”

The LADWP headquarters building is located at 111 North Hope Street, Los Angeles, California, 90012 (see map below). The meeting will be held in Conference Room 1, Level A. Parking is free in the LADWP’s underground parking garage. Signs will be posted to direct attendees to the meeting room.

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LA DWP on google maps

See more information at: http://blog.manzanarcommittee.org/

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CAPI Midsession Retreat 1: CIR, Food Justice, the Prison Industrial Complex, and much more.

This past Saturday, October 5th, the JACL-PSW district had its second retreat for the “Rising Seven” participants of this year’s Collegiate Asian Pacific Internship (CAPI). 

Already a month has passed since our opening retreat, and the seven interns are now well acquainted with the various community-based AAPI advocacy organizations they spend 10-12 hours of their week for their hands-on nonprofit internship experience. 

While our first retreat focused on community-building and learning more about our own and each other’s complex multiple identities, this second retreat was crafted with a focus on intersectional issues many of them expressed wanting to learn more about. Unfortunately, one of the interns fell under the weather and we were missing the presence of Denise during this  midsession retreat.

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Our day started with rushing to catch the metro to Hollywood and Western to join the Asian Pacific Islander FIRE contingent at this year’s National Day for Dignity & Respect, calling on our Congress to provide a humane and inclusive pathway to citizenship. Immigrant rights is a personal issue for many of us, and while our time was cut short due to our packed schedule, it was affirming to see us in solidarity amongst multiple communities filling the streets for comprehensive immigration reform.

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Following the morning’s march, we dived into learning about the intersectionality of race, class and food justice with Project Director of the Asian Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance, Scott Chan. During this session, we had the chance to interactively learn more about the everyday structural difficulties preventing healthy food access; moreover, we began to consider our own personal abilities to promote culturally appropriate solutions to address the food injustice we witness in our communities.

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 After a radical self-care themed lunch, we were joined by Eddy Zheng, formerly incarcerated community organizer, for an enlightening Skype session. Eddy’s personal success story of transformation and activism for Asian American Studies in San Quentin State prison was truly inspiring, and yet an exception amongst the rising number of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders facing incarceration or detention and deportation due to policies and practices that often criminalize immigrant communities. As many of the CAPI interns wondered on what could be done, Eddy left us with an important message of engaging in a “personal revolution before a social revolution” around social justice issues, such as mass incarceration and lack of resources for AAPI incarcerated community members.

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In addition, some of the CAPI interns had prepared and presented their “Carrying on the Legacy” session, in which they took leadership to share the importance of remembering community leaders such as Larry Itliong, Philip Vera Cruz, and Grace Lee Boggs, in order to capture how each of us can carry on such legacies of community building and activism today.

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Lastly, our retreat winded down with brainstorming for the final project they all hope to organize together to create space that will meet certain needs they feel are pressing in our diverse community today. But most importantly, we made sure to save time to close with how each individual was doing, since an important part of community building is about developing critical connections with one another on our personal journeys as community members and leaders.

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Please continue to follow the ever-transforming journeys of these rising community leaders at http://therisingseven.tumblr.com/.

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Collegiate Asian Pacific Intership (CAPI) 2013: The Journey Begins

This past weekend, the Japanese American Citizens League-Pacific Southwest District was thrilled to host our opening retreat for the selected participants of this year’s Collegiate Asian Pacific Internship (CAPI).

Generously sponsored by Southern California Edison, the Collegiate Asian Pacific Internship is a 3-month program on a mission to introduce, activate and further involve passionate and community-oriented Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) college students to the advocacy, activism and struggles that AAPI Community Based Organizations (CBOs) currently address on their social justice agendas.

Our seven participants this year include Regem Corpuz, Denise Panaligan, Kristy Ishii, Alex Kanegawa, Fifita Tutoe, Jewell Alingasa, and Minh-Triet Dao.  Each one has been partnered with one of our five participating CBOs, which comprise of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance-Los Angeles (APALA-LA), Asian Americans Advancing Justice Los Angeles (AAAJ-LA), API Equality Los Angeles, Asian Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance (APIOPA), and OCA-Greater Los Angeles.

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JACL-PSW has selected incredible CAPI program participants this year, who have already begun on their path of community building and empowerment through our opening retreat. The opening retreat focused on creating courageous spaces for sharing, as well as an environment where participants could learn and empower each other from their own experiences.  Some of our activities were an AAPI his/herstory intersectional timeline, a personal political autobiography and trajectory map, and a workshop on multiple identities.

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Through a meaningful night hike to the Griffith Park Observatory, the interns found common ground and community by opening up with honesty and extraordinary vulnerability. Our interns come from diverse backgrounds with personal connections to our immigrant, differently-abled, LGBTQ, student, and AAPI community. As each of them shared their personal stories and goals at the top of the hike, we all learned about our intersectional struggles and need for community. At the end, the group set two important goals for each other: 1) to practice self-care as activists, family members, students and whole beings, 2) to empower and support each other throughout the way. 

One of our final activities included choosing a name for a blog they will collectively contribute to as a means of cultural and social change and expression.  After a session of brainstorming, silly debate and reflective discussion, I believe their name speaks for themselves.

If you wish to follow the growth of each of these outstanding young individuals, please visit their blog: therisingseven.tumblr.com

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Helen Kawagoe

Written by: Kanji Sahara, PSW Civil Rights Chair

On Tuesday, June 4, 2013, the City of Carson California held a ceremony to name its City Council Chamber after Helen Kawagoe.  Helen was the long time City Clerk of Carson and was a beloved figure in the city and known as the “Mother of City Hall”.  Helen is a dedicated JACLer serving as Gardena Valley Chapter President, PSW Governor and National President.

Helen suffered a stroke in September of 2011 which left her partially paralyzed.  She has difficulty swallowing and speaking but can hear and understand what is going on.  She now lives in South Bay Keiro on Vermont Ave. in Gardena and loves to receive visitors.  Her daughter Sheryl Miyamoto brings her to public events in a wheel chair. Image

At the Carson City Council meeting on Dec 20, 2011, Mayor Jim Dear introduced a resolution to name the Carson City Council Chamber after Helen Kawagoe.  Ten people spoke in favor of the motion.  The “Opposition”, which then controlled the Carson City Council, said they wanted the naming to be after Helen passes.  After the speeches by the public, Mayor Pro Tempore Julie Ruiz-Raber moved to essentially put off voting on this motion.  She did this by saying she wanted something bigger, such as a park, named after Helen.  Her motion to continue this topic to the Jan 17, 2012 meeting of the Carson City Council passed 3 to 2. 

Then Mayor Dear asked the Assistant City Clerk Wanda Higaki to repeat Helen’s wish.  Wanda worked for Helen for over 30 years.  Wanda said that Helen wanted the Council Chamber named after her and not a park.  I think everybody already knew that. 

 A recess was called and Helen’s stepdaughter Sheryl Miyamoto started sobbing.  It was Sheryl’s task to go to the nursing home to tell Helen of the council decision.  Julie Ruiz-Raber tried to console Sheryl.  Image

On Thursday January 5, 2012 there was a meeting of about 20 of Helen’s friends.  Sheryl was the main speaker and brought us up to date.  Helen fell on January 1 and her face became black and blue.  She did not suffer any broken bones.  We decided to circulate a petition.  We hoped to get 1,000 signatures to present to the Council on January 17. 

 At the Carson City Council meeting on Jan 17, 2012, PSW Governor Ken Inouye, then National President David Kawamoto and several others JA’s spoke.  The Opposition in the Council won again by a vote of 3 to 2.  This was also the day of the LA City Election when Warren Furutani lost his bid for the LA City Council seat.

Helen’s Dream Coalition” was formed by activists who lived in Carson. They held rallies, petition drives and meetings every month.  They went to the Carson City Council Meetings all the time wearing their yellow T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Helen Dream Coalition”.  No matter what they did, the Opposition always won by a 3 to 2.Image

On Mar 5, 2013, City of Carson had a municipal election.  Mayor Jim Dear won by a landslide and another pro-Helen candidate won.  Now the pro-Helen group had a majority on the City Council.  On Mar 27, 2013, Carson installed the new City Council and the first order of business was to name the Carson City Council Chamber after Helen “today”.  It passed unanimously.  It took a year and a half and an election to name the Carson City Council Chamber after Helen Kawagoe. 

Congressional Gold Medal & Youth Summit

There’s been a lot of activity in the PSW lately, including the Congressional Gold Medal coming to the Japanese American National Museum.  On May 4th there was a small opening celebrating the medal and the 442nd, 100th, and MIS Veterans.  ImageThere were many prestigious speakers at the event, and it was heartwarming to see so many veterans come out to this event with their families.  

This is Jim, he was one of the many veterans who attended the opening of the Congressional Gold Medal Display.  He sat next to the medal telling stories of his time serving in the War.  “Ask me anything, I have ALL the answers!”  Growing up, I always felt like talking about the war was taboo, and a painful subject to ask my grandparents about.  Luckily, my grandmother was a teacher, and was willing to explain her experiences during incarceration.  It was so amazing to hear all the stories Jim had, and his willingness to talk to strangers about it!  I would have loved to listen to him all day.

On May 11th the JACL PSW participated in grand opening festivities at JANM’s Target Family Free Saturday with the Veterans as the theme.  We put together a large interactive timeline so that visitors to the museum could share their stories.  Many people wrote on the timeline including some of the veterans who were there!  It was an extremely rewarding experience for me to be able to talk with these wonderful men. Even though I was exhausted by the end of the day, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Below you can see our timeline, the medal, and the veterans who participated in the event.

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Another event I had the pleasure of being a part of was the National Youth/Student Council’s Leadership Summit in San Francisco, Empowering Communities: A Youth Focus on Community Building. We held the workshop at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California.  It was exciting to continue working with the NY/SC on the summits that I worked on when I was still a youth representative.  We had a great turnout with folks from all walks of life.Image It was so fun to be able to participate in the workshops about communities and to get the opportunity to run the River of Life workshop.  I loved hearing about why people were involved in their respective communities.  Kevin and Kelly Imagedid a fantastic job running logistics and pulling out a last minute workshop.  Kevin discussed the importance of values and how sometimes you need to negotiate them.  He also helped us to realize our communication styles, and how both are good, but need to be understood.  Rhianna and Michaela had plenty of fun energizers and ice breakers to keep our energy up.  Mariko did a fun networking exercise where the participants had to get out of their comfort zone a little bit to communicate with each other.  We were also fortunate to have  Jirayut New Latthivongskorn (ASPIRE), Haruka Roudebush (Nakayoshi), Clifford Yee (OCA-San Francisco Bay Chapter) attend our summit to speak on a panel about best practices.  Their combined knowledge was so valuable!

More pictures are available here and on our facebook page. I can’t wait to continue this work with the NY/SC and to see many of these participants at our National Convention in Washington DC!  Thank you NY/SC members and participants in the summit for allowing me to be a part of this wonderful day!

Stephanie Nitahara

Regional Director

2nd District Quarterly Announcement

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By: Nancy Takayama, JACL PSW Staff

PSW is having their 2nd Quarterly meeting this Sunday hosted by the San Fernando Valley JACL.  The meeting will be held at the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center just of Hwy 5.  For those who have never been to the center, the Japanese style structure was built in the late fifties.  The building funds were made possible by a donation from the North Hollywood-Burbank Farmer’s Association.  During WWII when the Japanese were interned the association’s funds were frozen by the government. After the war the valley farmers could did not return to their farms. Most were tenant farmers and did not have land to return to.  The Farmers’ Association leaders decided to donate the funds to build the SFV Japanese American community center. The building also sits on land that was donated.  Today, the community center has a Japanese Language School, a Dojo, gymnasium, a large kitchen that can feed more than 200 people and the Nikkei Pioneer Building that houses over 20 other clubs and organizations.

Okay, back to the PSW meeting.  This Sunday, the district will be introducing a new format.  We will have our regular business session starting at 9 AM. There will be an explanation in the beginning on how the session will be run so we will finish on time.  Lunch will be at noon (which I will talk about later, yummy).

During the meeting we will be introducing the first District-Chapter fundraising Opportunity Drawing.  The chapter has the opportunity (keyword: Opportunity) to earn funds with every ticket sold.  Prizes include:  Two 1-day Park Hopper Tickets to Disneyland/California Adventure (value $250), One Registration Packages for the 2013 JACL National Convention in Washington D.C. (value $275) and an iPad Mini w/WiFi 16 GB (value $365).  Be prepared to buy your tickets.

Opportunity Drawing Flyer

At 1 PM we will have our first free workshop led by LDIR.

Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations (LDIR) “offers a variety of training and consulting services to help strengthen communities and organizations of all kinds. Their curriculum is designed to develop socially conscious leaders with strong skill sets in facilitation, conflict management, and coalition-building”.

Please visit their website:  http://www.ldir.org/what-we-do/

You will still have plenty of time to socialize during lunch and after the workshop.

Oh yeah, Lunch!  Let me tell you about lunch.  Our lunch is being supplied by Ono Island Crepes.  These are crepes with a Hawaiian flair.  You will be given a choice of their most popular crepes:  Kalua Pork, Teriyaki Chicken or Teri Tofu (vegetarian).  Sounds Ono, yeah?  Well, there’s still more.  For dessert you will be introduced to the Chocolate Haupia crepe.  Whoa, brok da mouth!!Image

Please come to visit us at the meeting.  We’ve made it really easy to register online.

Just go to our JACL PSW website below.

http://www.jaclpsw.org/index.php/for-the-chapters/district-quarterly-updates

Just go to the upper right corner and select:

“ For the Chapters” / “District Quarterly Updates” / Scroll down to the blue button “Register Today”

We hope to see you in the valley.  We are no longer “country” maybe “over the hill”.

UCLA Asian Am Studies Center releases 2013 statistical portrait of the Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations

In case you were interested in the changes from last year’s report! 

UCLA Asian American Studies Center: 2013 Statistical Portrait of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Other Pacific Islanders
http://www.aasc.ucla.edu/cic/stats2013.aspx

The UCLA Asian American Studies Center, as an official U.S. Census Information Center (as a co-partner with National Coalition for Asian Pacific Community Development), is pleased to provide this 2013 statistical portrait of the Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations produced by the US Census Bureau for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which will take place in May, 2013. The portrait provides current census data, population projections, and internet links that should be useful for research, planning, writing and general educational purposes. Please see the “Editor’s note” at the end of this announcement for more information.The first major section provides information on “Asians,” while the second major part highlights “Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders”.

Asians

18.2 million

The estimated number of U.S. residents in 2011 who were Asian, either alone or in combination with one or more additional races.
Source: 2011 Population Estimates Table 3 <www.census.gov/popest/data/index.html>. For additional information, see <www.census.gov/popest/data/national/asrh/2011/index.html>.
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The Future of US: Minority Majority

by: Eri Kameyama

The US Census Bureau just released the groundbreaking news that the majority of the babies born in the year 2011 were non-white. What does this mean for us, people of color? Are we going to start having more political voice in Congress and at the local level? Are we going to have equal and fair representation in the media, finally? How can we ensure that our children, minorities who are now in the majority, will grow up with an education that does not promote color-blindness and erasure of diasporic histories of oppression and discrimination but a much-needed recognition of race and ethnicity? Precisely how do we move forward with this data?

More specific to our Japanese American communities around the nation, what is the role of JACL and how do we embrace the increasing diversity while addressing the issue of the dwindling Japanese American population?

I believe that the Japanese American community, with its long history and legacy in the US, has the responsibility and the capability to serve as leading examples in the people of color communities. We need to recognize that the past histories of racism are not unique to our own experiences, but something that is still prevalent today, albeit in less blatant forms. With our programs like Bridging Communities that bring together Muslim Americans with the Japanese American youth, JACL is already paving the path in promoting cross-ethnic collaborations. If we can continue to see parallels across our experiences, perhaps this is the first step in addressing the very issues of increasing diversity in this nation.

Researchers project that by 2050, the majority of the U.S. will be people of color. By then, the children born in 2011 will be 40 years old. This data should be taken seriously and action should be taken to address this fast- changing landscape of America.

The Power of Words: Changes seen in the Incarceration Terminology

By: Marissa Kitazawa

The Power of Words is a grassroots campaign to identify, discuss and implement a plan within the organization of the Japanese American Citizens League  (JACL) to identify euphemisms and misnomers and encourage the use of more accurate terminology as it relates to the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese and Japanese Americans during World War II.  The goal of this campaign was see beyond the old wartime euphemism. These euphemisms, popularized by government agencies, misrepresents the situation and was designed to obscure the mistreatment of Japanese American.

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JACL/OCA Leadership Conference Reflections

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By Marissa Kitazawa

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege and honor of attending the JACL/OCA Leadership Conference held in Washington DC. This was an amazing opportunity for me to meet other activist and community organizers, learn about pertinent issues affecting the AAPI community and discuss proactive ways to create change for the future.

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