Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Sep 02nd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Sister, Sister

nwws2Santa Cruz reaches out with aid for its sister city in Japan

When Alan Hiromura’s sister died from a particularly aggressive case of leukemia in December 2008, he searched for a way to commemorate her life. His opportunity eventually arose with another sister in need.

 

The small Japanese city of Shingu has been a “sister city” to Santa Cruz since 1971. The city has a population of 30,000 people and, not unlike Santa Cruz, is nestled between mountains and the Pacific Ocean. These city-to-city relationships give people in both locations an “opportunity to build friendships, learn about other cultures, and foster international understanding,” according to the Sister Cities Committee mission statement. This affiliation has included student, business, and mayoral delegations between Santa Cruz and Shingu, as well as assistance when either city is in need.

Disaster struck Shingu in September 2011 when Typhoon Talas stalled for five days over the Kumano River that runs through the city. Receiving 90 inches of rain (or three-fourths of Shingu’s yearly rainfall) in the five days, the city had to cope with the destruction of roads, bridges, and buildings as a result of flooding and mudslides. Thirteen people lost their lives in the wake of the typhoon and more than 500 residents lost their homes and personal property. The damage completely cut off power and outside communication for more than a week. Shingu media reported that Talas was the worst typhoon to hit the city in 20,000 years. The damages would be insurmountable without outside assistance. Santa Cruz residents have raised $17,000 for their sister city, yet there are areas that still need assistance.

Hiromura has a more intimate connection to Shingu than most, which may explain his generous $10,000 donation toward relief efforts. As a former member of the Shingu subdivision of the Sister Cities Committee, Hiromura has also been on a number of delegation trips to the city. “Shingu had a need and I had the funds available,” Hiromura says. “I’ve met and know a lot of the people from Shingu, and when I heard about the disaster, I thought [my donation] would be a good way to help our sister city and also to remember my [own] sister by.” Hiromura explains that although his sister had no ties to Shingu, his donation would serve to honor her memory while helping those who need it most.

The donations collected locally will be put toward “reconstruction and support of victims of the typhoon who demonstrate hardship,” says Wayne Nash, the International Relations and Promotion Liaison for the Shingu Sister City Committee. Hiromura’s $10,000 is going specifically to the reconstruction of a Kyoiku Gakusha, a nonprofit learning center and school that teaches its visitors (young, old, urban, and rural) about the lifestyle and means of self sufficient organic agriculture. Typhoon Talas submerged their facilities under six feet of water, and although the main structure of the building was mostly salvageable, the floors, walls, and most equipment were badly damaged.

Before the disaster, Kyoiku Gakusha ran a natural bakery and café on the weekends to earn some revenue for the center. Now, with their fields in ruins and stone oven for baking bread completely dismantled by the floods, the cafe is not open to bring in any revenue to assist in financing the repairs. It is Hiromura’s interest in the school’s work and their similarities to Santa Cruz that prompted his donation to the school in particular. His $10,000 donation in his sister’s memory will not only jumpstart the repairs in Kyoiku Gakusha, but also contribute to the first stages of a return to normalcy for the center’s patrons.

Santa Cruz organizers do not expect that everyone can afford to donate $10,000 to this cause, but say that every little bit helps. Nash adds that donations are tax deductable and are sure to get to the people that need them. “If funds come through the Shingu Sister City we can direct [them] to people who need help and have strong relationships with people in Santa Cruz,” he says.

For those for whom monetary donations are not an option, he says there are also other ways to get involved. “People hit by disasters of any kind often need more than just financial support,” says Nash. “Mental and emotional support is also important and even people with no money can show support for Shingu in that way.”

As for Hiromura’s donation to Kyoiku Gakusha, Nash points to the alignment between the school’s aim to teach about organic self-sufficiency and Santa Cruz’s well-known support for organic agriculture and education. This is just one of the many similarities between Shingu and Santa Cruz, and perhaps is what makes these sister cities so closely tied.

“It is really a magical experience,” remarks Hiromura when describing his time in Shingu and his motivations for donating relief funds. “It’s magical because the people are just so warm and friendly, willing to give themselves to explain about the culture, to contribute with visitors. Their eagerness to share is really heartwarming.”

For more information please visit cityofsantacruz.com or contact Roxi Goin at 427-1715.

Photo: Wayne Nash

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

You Are What You Post

Online personality algorithms put astrological profiles to shame, but UCSC psychologists are raising questions about sharing personal data

 

Venus Direct, Mercury Retro Soon, Honoring Our Labors

As Burning Man (nine days, Aug. 30-Sept. 7 in the sign of Virgo) burns in the hot white desert sands, a petal of the rose created by retrograde Venus and the twelve-petaled Sun in Virgo’s petals unfold. All of us are on the burning ground (Leo) in the womb (cave of the heart) of the mother (Virgo), gestating for humanity once again (each year) a new state of consciousness. Both Virgo and Cancer, feminine (receptive energies) signs, are from our last solar system (Pleiades). When humanity first appeared on Earth we were nurtured by the mother, a matriarchy of energies (on islands in the Pacific). Eve, Isis and Mary are part of the lineages of our ancient Mother. Overseen by the Pleiades, the Earth (matter, mater, the mother) in that last solar system was imbued with intelligence (Ray 3). As we move toward autumn, another mother, Ceres realizes she has mere weeks left with her beloved daughter, Persephone. Persimmon and pomegranate trees prepare for autumn, their colors signs of hope as the light each day continues to dim. Sunday, Venus in Leo turns stationary direct, yet continues in her shadow until Oct. 9 (when retrograde Mercury turns direct). Slowly our newly assessed values emerge from the Venus retrograde. We thought in Venus retro how to use our resources more effectively. Mercury retrogrades Sept. 17. Monday is Labor Day. Let us honor the labor of everyone, all life a “labor.” Let us honor Labor Day and all those who have “served” (labored for) us this past year. We honor their labors. We honor the labor of our parents, those who have loved us. We honor our own labors, too. We are all in service, we are all laboring. We are all valuable.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Girl Gone Wild

’70s SF recalled in raw, poignant ‘Diary of a Teenage Girl’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Sushi Garden

Local sushi empire expands to Scotts Valley

 

Do you overshare online?

I don’t think so. I just post things about my life, like successful things. Sometimes I just like sharing different news that I find interesting, or favorite artists, clothes, music. I like to post photos. Natalia Delgado, Santa Cruz, Server

 

McIntyre Vineyards

I recently met up with three friends for dinner at Sanderlings at Seascape Beach Resort. We chose to eat outside so we could watch the sun set over the ocean, but the Aptos fog rolled in and swallowed it up.

 

Sustainable Supper

The Homeless Garden Project’s Sustain Supper series supports its award-winning programs