Editorial: Last rant of the year
As 2009 winds down, it’s time to take a collective deep breath. Just try not to take in any water while you’re doing it—the seas have been rather rough of late. Between the icecaps melting, the economy tanking, and the H1N1 virus spreading like a bad rumour, it sometimes seems that the waves are breaking over the bow faster than we can bail.
Yes, it’s been a tumultuous and sometimes depressing year in many ways, the election of Barrack Obama notwithstanding. While the election of the first African American (well, mixed-race) President provided a brief moment of hope, there hasn’t been a lot to cheer about since then. These days, if you have both your health AND a job, you’re ahead of the pack, which seems like a pretty low standard for success in the 21st Century if you ask me.
It is against this backdrop that the 2010 Olympics will take place a few short months from now. Despite (or perhaps because of) the ardent and omnipresent cheerleading from its boosters I can’t help but feel some ambivalence towards the games. Sometimes, in my more cynical moments, I envision the Olympics as a huge tank rolling through the streets, crushing everything in its path. Is it just me, or is there a disconnect between the lofty ideals that the Olympics espouse and the draconian manner with which the IOC conducts its business?
I am not so naïve as to believe that if the Olympics were being held somewhere else that there would suddenly be billions of dollars freed up for health care, education and the arts. Still, it’s difficult not to feel like our priorities are seriously messed up. But hey, there’s no turning back now. Let’s enjoy the incredible feats of athletic ability and the cultural events that will captivate us for a few weeks this winter. Let’s just hope the hangover isn’t too severe . . .
Who will remember?
There has been a lot in the news lately about the coming cuts to arts and culture funding. As a one-time professional artist who is still connected to the arts and culture communities through both The Bulletin and my graphic design work, I can’t help but feel intense anger at the short-sightedness of this government. But this isn’t a rant about funding or the government. Rather, I was thinking the other day that in the constant search for funding and donations on the part of organizations like the Nikkei Centre and the Powell Street Festival (to name but a very few) there is another deficit that can prove just as crippling, and that is the shortage of people to drive things forward.
This was brought on by a discussion with Nancy Kato following the recent Remembrance Day ceremony in Stanley Park. She told me that with Bev Inouye’s passing, the weight of organizing the event has fallen on her shoulders. Together with Roy Kawamoto, Nancy has had to take up where Bev left off (and has given her even greater respect for the work Bev did). What brought me up short was her admission that she and Roy have talked about letting the event die. It’s not a lack of attendance that is the problem; if anything, the event is better-attended every year. It’s not even for a lack of volunteers; every year people come out of the woodwork to help on the day itself, serving tea and sandwiches and anything else that needs to be done. Rather, it is that both Nancy and Roy are feeling the burden of having to organize and plan the ceremony and reception with little or no help.
As a longtime attendee at the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Japanese Canadian War Memorial, it is unthinkable to me that the event will die for lack of a few volunteers. So here it is folks: a callout for a few people to step forward to help organize the Remembrance Day ceremony. I figure all we need is a small group willing to divide up the few tasks that need doing every year. I have put my name forward, but going on the “many hands make light work” principle, we need a few more dedicated souls to keep the event going. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
Speaking of remembering: this month we lost long-time Bulletin volunteer Emmie Hirata. A resident of Nikkei Home for the past few years, Emmie has been around as long as I can remember, helping out on mailing day and always in the front row of each and every community event, smiling widely in her electric scooter. Our condolences to her family. We will all miss her.
Speaking of remembering (part II): apologies for the error last issue in printing the October Wakumi’s World again instead of the November version. The error was entirely mine. In this issue we present both the November and December cartoons.
This is our last issue for 2009. It is truly an honour serving the community through The Bulletin. Your kind and generous words of support are truly appreciated. I’d like to send out holiday greetings to all of our readers, advertisers, volunteers and contributors. I wish you the very best in the New Year and hope that it will bring you and your family health and happiness. (And remember to get your flu shots!)