Ties That Bind to Hold Conference on Future of Nikkei Community


The Ties That Bind (TTB) Committee will hold a major Japanese American community conference entitled “Am I Japanese/American?: Define Your Place in a Framework for Action” at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Little Tokyo on Saturday, Oct. 1, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The conference, open to all interested persons, will focus on issues related to the current state and future of the Nikkei community and will explore how the next generation will provide the leadership needed to ensure that the community survives and prospers in the future.

Bill Watanabe

Highlights include presentations of two discussion-stimulators created just for the conference: a special video featuring short clips of person-on-the-street interviews of people answering the question, “What does the Japanese American community mean to you?” and a survey, with about 500 respondents, assessing Nikkei attitudes about community involvement and the community’s future across different generations.

A panel of distinguished community leaders moderated by Bill Watanabe, Little Tokyo Service Center executive director and TTB Committee chair, will share their reactions to what they see in the video and what they find in the results of the survey.

The speakers include Terry Hara, LAPD deputy chief and past president of the Nisei Week Foundation; Tamlyn Tomita, movie and TV actress, former Nisei Week Queen, and emcee extraordinaire; and Craig Ishii, co-founder and staff member of Kizuna, a newly formed next-generation Nikkei community advocacy organization. Participants will have an opportunity to discuss in small groups all that they see and hear in the morning program.

Craig Ishii

The afternoon program will feature the task of devising a plan of action for the future of the Nikkei community using the World Café method of large-group dialogue. Participants will engage in three rounds of conversation in small groups. Forming new groups with new people each round, they will participate in a progressive discussion on the future of the community, the programs that would help the community progress toward that future, and the leadership needed to get there. At the end of the day, everything will be tied together in a plenary reporting session, and a plan of action will be created.

The registration fee is $25 general, $15 for students. It includes a bento lunch and refreshments. Sponsors who contribute $100 can register two individuals. People interested in the Nikkei community and living in Southern California are encouraged to fill out the survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/F8NQB3J. The registration form, sponsorship form, and survey link can be obtained by emailing [email protected] or by going to https://sites.google.com/site/tiesthatbind2011/.

Tamlyn Tomita

The TTB Committee is a group of community leaders that was organized in 2002 to implement recommendations that came out of several national and local conferences concerned with the current preservation and future prosperity of the Japanese American community. Among its accomplishments:

– Created the annual one-week Japanese American heritage summer day camp for middle school children called Camp Musubi in 2003;

– Organized Ties That Bind 3, a conference on the preservation of Little Tokyo as a historic heritage community, in 2005;

– Launched the Little Tokyo Historical Society to collect, preserve, and disseminate the rich history of Little Tokyo in 2006;

– Sponsored Nikkei Community Day, a one-day celebration of Japanese and Japanese American heritage, community, and culture in Little Tokyo, in 2007, 2008, and 2009;

Terry Hara

– Held a workshop called “Hows and Whys to Doing a Culture Camp” in 2010 to help Japanese American community centers and community organizations institute their own programs to teach youth about Nikkei heritage and culture.

According to the TTB conference organizers, “The Nikkei community has a future, but it will take leadership to guide and preserve it. This gathering will be an opportunity to pave the way for a strong community in the coming generations.”

For more information, contact Bill Watanabe at (213) 473-1607 or [email protected]

(Photos by J.K. Yamamoto/Rafu Shimpo)


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