As the year winds down, I can’t help but feel that time passes so quickly when you get older. Since we Americans are facing so many issues and challenges, 2010 is going to be another year filled with turmoil and uncertainty. One of my New Year’s hopes is that the Nichi Bei Weekly manages to establish itself and to continue publishing in the face of the decline in publications of all kinds and the continuing problems of funding such an enterprise.
What can I say that would emphasize the need for this paper to just plain exist? As a community, we need some avenues of communication that keep us informed, tell us what is going on, and keep us in touch with others in the community. I think that most of us know this, and so we need to spread the word and get others to pitch in and help the Nichi Bei Weekly continue.
Of course, I have benefited a great deal from having the privilege of writing for the old Nichi Bei Times, and I relished the freedom and openness that this paper gave me to comment on the passing scene. I am very grateful for this special opportunity and so it’s a selfish thing, but I think the Nikkei community needs this forum. There are real issues that Nikkei as a group should think about and we need a place to discuss them.
Maybe the Yonsei and Gosei (and beyond, but I don’t know if anybody is counting) are now such an assimilated group, almost totally absorbed into the American mainstream, that they have given up interest in being Japanese American. If that is the case, they will have lost a lot to have given up their racial and cultural heritage. I hope not.
So, now, I turn my thoughts to a recent trip to Baltimore. Why would I be going to Baltimore? Well, that was where a meeting was held where the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation was interviewing my sister Emiko and me for a small job in creating a short introductory film to be used in their new enterprise, the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation Learning Center. It was a thrill meeting the committee that was screening the entrants for this job because these people were really committed to setting up the best possible learning center that could be devised. As of this writing, no winner has been announced, but by the time this column is published, we may know who won. At any rate, it was still an honor to be selected for the interview, and meeting the committee was reward enough.
The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation seems to be led by one of the most dynamic, dedicated groups of volunteers that I have ever encountered. They are moving ahead with developed plans to build a learning center where visitors will encounter a piece of American history that still remains obscure for most Americans. The Center will be on the road to Yellowstone National Park, so thousands are expected to drive by and they will have the opportunity to take a look inside, after they use the bathrooms, etc. Check out their Website to see what their plans are and how the enterprise is coming along. It promises to be very imaginative and thought provoking.
Well, I want to talk a bit about Baltimore. We were right across the street from the Walters Museum, a huge, magnificent showcase for the collections of two wealthy men who devoted much of their fortunes to accumulating art and artifacts. I had never heard of this place, so we went in not knowing what we would see. We had been told that it was a world-class museum, and we were not disappointed. The pre-Columbian display alone was worth the visit, and we didn’t have time to explore the mummies and many of the wings where really priceless pieces were on display.
At this time, there was a display of Greek antiquities, mostly pottery, and these were fantastic. I would make a special trip to Baltimore to go back to that museum, and it is free to the public. What a wonderful treasure for the people there.
Chizu Omori is the co-producer of the award-winning film “Rabbit in the Moon.” A recent transplant from Seattle, Wash., she now writes from Berkeley, Calif., and can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.