Monday, July 4, 2011

Waves of Hope

Only a few months have passed since the deadly Tohoku earthquake and tsunami struck Japan but already American public attention to the aftermath of the disaster has faded. While not unexpected(1), the tragedy remains all too real and present: the reality is thousands of people are crowded into shelters, without a home or job, lacking water, food, and power. Entire towns have been devastated, literally wiped off the map. Japan continues to depend upon global support and assistance.

I’m doing my small part to ensure the recovery efforts and the very real suffering of survivors continue to draw our attention. I’m a member of a committee charged with raising funds for earthquake relief. Entitled Waves of Hope: Sending Relief Shore to Shore, the effort will culminate in an exciting “Art Swell” event on Friday, September 23, 2011.

Eugene’s OPUS VII Gallery will be filled that evening with good wine, abundant appetizers, and inspiring music.(2) There will be a raffle featuring the work of some of Eugene’s finest artists as a fundraising incentive.(3) In addition, two large paintings offered by well-known painter Adam Grosowsky will be sold by silent auction.

The committee will extend to everyone who contributes $100 or more an appreciative invitation to the Art Swell. Last-minute donations of $100 or more will be accepted at the door.

Devastation in Ofunato (photo by Satoko Motouji)

Local artist Satoko Motouji and Japanese-American Association of Lane County president Mike Takahashi lead the Waves of Hope organizing committee. Satoko recently visited Tohoku, the directly impacted region of Japan. She toured six different cities, finding the extent and severity of the destruction to be absolutely beyond words. Unbelievable amounts of debris remain untouched, even after three months.

Satoko returned to Eugene believing the struggles for the Tohoku area residents have only just begun. The vastness of the devastation, she explained to me, can best be placed into perspective by realizing that the length of the impacted coastline is greater than the distance between Eugene and Seattle.

The statistics are staggering. As of June 5, the Asahi Newspaper reported the following numbers by prefecture:

Additionally, the earthquake and tsunami destroyed 65,840 homes and countless businesses.

There is no doubt in Satoko’s mind that the people of Japan sincerely appreciate any and all contributions in support of efforts to rebuild the lives and communities forever altered by the earthquake and tsunami. There is so much that needs to be done, and it will take much time and money to accomplish.

If you’re interested in making a donation, mail a Waves of Hope Relief Fund check or money order (payable to the Japanese-American Association of Lane County) to:

Mike Takahashi
841 Virgil Avenue, Eugene, OR 97404

The JAA will direct all gathered funds to the Japan Red Cross to support that organization’s earthquake relief programs.

Your contribution is tax deductible in accordance with IRS regulations. JAA is a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization.

(1) The shortness of our collective attention span has been well-chronicled. An article published by the online magazine Salon discusses how media attention dropped sharply just a few brief months after the deadly 2010 Haiti earthquake occurred. How many people now give the tragedy in Haiti even a passing thought?

(2) The entertainment will include koto master Mitzuki Dazai and Eugene Taiko, the traditional Japanese drumming group of which I am a member.

(3) The list of artists contributing to the Art Swell includes Kate Ali, Kathleen Caprario, Mark Clarke, Margaret Coe, Tallmadge Doyle, Jan Eliot, Kathryn Finnerty, Michiyo Goble, Adam Grosowsky, David Joyce, Ron Lovinger, Faye Nakamura, Susan Lowdermilk, Barbara Pickett, Margaret Prentice, Julie Reisner, Ruri, Satoko Motouji, Katsuyuki Shibata, and Bev Soasey.
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