Monday, February 24, 2014

Social media and social capital

February marks the 10th anniversary of Facebook. These ten years have revolutionized the way we communicate, organize, fundraise, advertise, network, and relate to one another. Words like “like,” “share,” “tag,” “wall,” and most of all “friend” have taken on new meanings. Read more at Philanthropy Daily.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Speech on the House Floor for Day of Remembrance

Thank you Mr. Speaker. I rise in support of the resolution.

I represent the Puyallup Valley, a special place with extraordinary people. Japanese families immigrated to our valley with its rich soil more than a century ago to start raspberry and strawberry farms along the Puyallup River, while others started small businesses in Fife. They were important contributors to the life of the community.

And then, seventy-two years ago this spring, everything changed.

Men and women of Japanese descent from Seattle and the Puyallup Valley were ordered to report to the Puyallup City Hall between May 14 and 16, 1942 to register for placement in an internment camp at the Puyallup Fairgrounds.

At Puyallup High School, an all-school assembly was held that spring to say goodbye to Japanese-American students who were to be interned in the Puyallup Fairgrounds.

Across the river at Fife High School, the departure forever changed that school. The late Bob Mizukami once told me that half of the baseball team disappeared.

The pain of leaving home was unspeakably deep, the pain of being forced from a place they loved. Mr. Speaker, may I read a quote from Tadako Tamura, secretary of the Puyallup Valley Japanese-American Citizens’ League? He wrote this to the Tacoma News Tribune. “The soil we worked, the soil our parents worked so conscientiously—it has become too much a part of us to leave so easily.”

Families could bring only what they could carry as they entered the fairgrounds that week in May. Camp administrators issued mattress covers to be filled with straw and assigned families to small rooms in makeshift barracks. Over the next few months, the internees ate together in a mess hall, organized dances and activities, and learned to get along in the uncomfortably close quarters of what was called “Camp Harmony.”

I was touched when former Seattle School District administrator Frank Hanawalt told me a story about his father, the longtime Puyallup schools superintendent Paul Hanawalt. Hanawalt went to the federal authorities at the internment camp and requested a brief leave for Japanese-American students who were to graduate with the Puyallup High School Class of 1942. His request was approved, and on graduation day in June, the superintendent drove to the gates of the Fairgrounds and picked up Rosie Takemura and Yukio Takeuchi so that they could walk with their class.

When graduation was over, Mr. Hanawalt drove them back to the Fairgrounds. On the way, he made a detour up Pioneer and stopped at Martin’s Confectionary and treated the new Viking alums to Mr. Martin’s homemade ice cream.

In September, the internees were relocated by train to the desert of Idaho. The train-ride is an especially haunting memory for many of the Japanese-Americans who lived through that time.

When they arrived in the Idaho desert, the 964 Japanese-Americans from the Puyallup Valley and the 6,185 from Seattle called the compound Camp Minidoka. They lived in blockhouses.

Internees were allowed to apply for work releases away from the camp if they could line up employment. Bob Mizukami from Fife spent the fall of 1942 harvesting sugar beets and potatoes near Minidoka. After the harvest, he volunteered for the Army and spent the war serving with the all-Japanese-American 442nd Infantry regiment. His brother William also served in the 442nd and lost his life in action at Anzio in Italy. The 442nd became one of the most highly decorated regiments in all of American history. All told, 211 Minidoka internees volunteered for military service. We owe them our thanks.

After the war, many Japanese-Americans tried to return home. Some began life anew elsewhere. They faced continued prejudices from their fellow Americans that added to their difficulties. But they persevered. They became leaders in our communities.

We owe all of the Japanese-Americans who endured the injustice of internment our commitment to the principles of civil rights and equality. We here are chartered by the opening words of our state constitution to protect and maintain individual rights. May these hard events from seven decades ago remind us to take that work seriously. May we each do our part to stand for freedom and dignity in our own time.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Relationships and the war on poverty

Last weekend I got to sit on a panel entitled “True Compassion Doesn't Come from D.C.: How Communities Are Addressing Poverty Better than Bureaucracies” at a conference of Washington State conservatives. It was humbling and inspiring to sit on the panel with Jeff Lilley, executive director of Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. Jeff made one of the most powerful statements I’ve ever heard about poverty. “Homelessness is not a resources issue,” he said. Read more at Philanthropy Daily.