Speak Out Against Proposed Solar Ranch Near Manzanar!

Image

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

—-

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.

Image

LA DWP on google maps

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

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.

Image

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

(Re)claiming Our Communities: Identity Politics, Youth Engagement, and Building Contemporary Asian Pacific America

 

 

The 2012 Collegiate Japanese American Internship program is running full speed with 5 passionate and hardworking interns placed at APIsCAN, OCAPICA, and APALC this year.

They are doing many hands-on advocacy and outreach work such as researching API funders and doing voter mobilization for the November elections. Three of the interns are conducting phone banking sessions every week to speak directly with potential API voters on issues that matter to them. Their work impacts the community in positive ways and their energy is vital towards obtaining social justice.

 

These great interns are putting together a 1 Day Conference as part of their Program. Please join us as we learn about how youth can make a difference in their post-college communities.

“How do everyday professionals serve as strong advocates for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities? And how can you likewise utilize your technical and professional skills to empower the AAPI community when you enter the post-college world?

In addressing such questions, this conference offers an open forum for participants to explore various post-college opportunities as well as various forms of activism that align with their future interests. Ultimately, through a series of workshops and panels, this conference hopes to build community while cultivating active and well-informed AAPI youth.”

 

 

 

When: Saturday Nov 17th

Time: 10:00am ~ 4:30pm

Where: Garden Room B @ JACCC

244 S. San Pedro St.

Los Angeles, CA 90012

Numbers can hide a whole lot …

by Eri Kameyama

My plane from Dallas, Texas to Baltimore/Washington DC was stopped at Birmingham, Alabama with some passengers getting off at Birmingham and others getting on for DC when I saw my friend posted on his facebook the Pew Research Center’s publication titled “The Rise of Asian Americans.” As soon as I saw the title, I thought, “uh oh. I hope it isn’t as bad as I think it’ll be…”

As I skimmed through the graphs and data presented in this article on my tiny iPhone screen, showing Asian Americans as being successful, happy, non-discriminated, and progressing in America, I felt myself wanting to yell and go off on a rant right then and there to someone, anyone, about how problematic this depiction of our communities was.

I had just completed my duties as a teacher’s assistant for a course taught at UCLA called “Contemporary Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities” where we read articles like Claire Jean Kim’s Racial Triangulation, which illuminated how Asian Americans were valorized above the “falling behind African Americans” and yet kept ostracized from civic engagement through the idea of “perpetual foreigner.” We also learned that as Asian Americans who are in this “racial middle,” we could either choose to blend into and conform with white-American oppressive systems, being the so-called “racial bourgeoisie”  or we can fight alongside our black and brown brothers and sisters in seeking social justice (Mari Matsuda, We Will Not Be Used.) We learned that the model minority myth IS a myth and does more harm than good to our communities.

So when I saw the Pew report, these theories and ways of understanding the unjust world came flooding back, as if giving me a reality check saying “You aren’t free from educating, yet!” The way that the data was presented turned a blind-eye towards all the disparities that many Asian Americans face still today. Where are the voices of all the low income families whose children are even working multiple jobs to support their education? What about the immigrants who lost everything they had worked for in the LA Riots, 20 years ago, losing hope in the American Dream and had to thus re-immigrate to Korea? How can we be sure that having an Asian face is or is not helping us get jobs in this land?

I challenge you to look critically at the data presented. What are these numbers really hiding? What voices are being ignored? What is our role, as Asian Americans, in demanding a fair representation of our communities, identities, feelings and aspirations in the United States?