A second meeting of the Crescent City Delegation Monday was less about disaster management and more about schools, art and commerce.
The group of 15 delegates returned June 23 from a weeklong trip to sister city Rikuzentakata, Japan, where they attended training and spoke with local officials about emergency management, commercial collaborations, agriculture, aquaculture, human services and cultural exchanges.
City Manager Eric Wier said he had started conversations with county officials regarding emergency planning, but they are not yet able to coordinate a discussion meeting between delegates and emergency management officials.
Delegates also briefly discussed applying for grant funding from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Public Affairs Section. The grant will award a maximum of $100,000 but expects to divide the funding into smaller awards of about $40,000. The grant is for “projects that strengthen cultural ties between the U.S. and Japan through cultural and exchange programming that highlights shared values and promotes bilateral cooperation.” The grant application must be submitted by Aug. 1.
Wier said later the funding could be used to help support cultural exchanges and promote education. He said with the funding, Crescent City could offer sister city visitors a similar experience to that which the delegation was given in June.
Jeff Harris, Del Norte County Superintendent of Schools, attended the meeting to speak about a tentative visit by five to 10 teachers in January. He said the focus of the group will be English Language Development. He said it’s hoped that the cultural exchange of students can resume soon, with gaps between the visits that will allow funding to be replenished.
Supervisor Chair Chris Howard and Mayor Blake Inscore brought up the concept of having local breweries create specialty beers using rice imported from Rikuzentkata. However, international import laws would need to be researched regarding the shipping of the rice and beer.
Nancy Sander, with the Redwoods Art Association, spoke of an opportunity to bring people to the area and help an artist in Japan who has been displaying his art for free in his family’s home.
Sander recalled Azuka Tasaki, an artist with autism whose paintings depict aspects of the 2011 tsunami and people who were lost in the disaster.
Sander said the organization, Autism Speaks, has money available to ensure that people who have survived the ordeal can make their own money.
She said Tasaki’s storytelling, through his art, has been recognized by the organization.
“As long as this is about this entire organization, and we are going to help them support themselves, as well as our people supporting by telling the stories of their lives, through art, you have an international connection,” she said, suggesting that by displaying his art in Crescent City, the organization would pay him. She said that could also bring visitors to the area to see the exclusively-shown displays.
The delegation is also putting together a presentation about the trip and trainings, to be shown to the Board of Supervisors, City Council, Harbor District and School District.
News from Japan
Eri Suzuki, a reporter with the Tokaishimpo newspaper in Ofunato, a neighboring city to Rikuzentakata, said Monday that the two cities have not been affected by the heavy rains that have caused widespread flooding and mudslides in Japan over the past couple days. Rikuzentakata is located in the northeast area of Japan and rains have been occurring in the western areas.
The Associated Press reports that the death toll in Japan had passed 100 by Monday afternoon, Pacific time.