Joy Kogawa creates a presence at the Vancouver Arts Awards...
and she's not even nominated or attending...
I attended the 2005 Vancouver Arts Awards Friday night, and the ripples
of Joy Kogawa were felt throughout the evening.
I spoke to both Councillor Jim Green and Mayor Larry Campbell, and
told them about the demolition for application of the Kogawa homestead.
A house acknowledged with heritage designation. They were both surprised
and concerned, saying "Council had just passed resolution to save the
cherry trees on Tuesday".
I spoke with City Librarian Paul Whitney, and briefly discussed the idea
of creating a purpose for the Kogawa Homestead, as a residence/office
for the Writer in Residence Program for the Vancouver Public Library
- of course we would have to develop this idea, and have the aggreement
of VPL to proceed, which currently we do not. But certainly an idea to
propose the Homestead as a writers' retreat in general has been previously
discussed in the media, and by the Homestead Committee 2 years ago.
(I just love the idea of saying... Obasan was the One Book One Vancouver
book for 2005 - the City of Vancouver loved the book so much - they bought
Mayor Larry Campbell told the audience that council on Tuesday passed
the motion to preserve the cherry trees from the Kogawa Homestead
and that a one year old graft from the tree would be planted at City Hall
in October, in recognition of the the novel Obasan, and the significance
of the Japanese Canadian internments.
Bill Richardson, MC for the evening, told the audience that he talked
with Joy Kogawa earlier this week with regards to One Book One Vancouver
and Naomi's Road opera, and then introduced Ramona Luengen, who
wrote the music for Naomi's Road opera. Ramona is the recipient of the
2004 Emerging Artist Grant from last year's Vancouver Art Awards. The
Vancouver Opera Touring Ensemble performed a duet from Naomi's Road.
Councillor Jim Green told the audience, prior to his introducing an award,
that the Kogawa Homestead was in danger. He talked about the significance
of the One Book One Vancouver program, Naomi's Road, and of Obasan...
and the importance of recognizing the Japananese Canadian experience
And a little bird - who said to me "I didn't tell you this" told me that we could
propose to buy the house for $1, and have it moved, off the Marpole property.
The city has property all over town, we could ask to store it there or on a
private lot, until the time is right to do something with the house. Which
could be to find a private or city property to set it up on, or to integrate it
into a city park or other feature.
This latest suggestion is very timely as the City of Vancouver is planning
a park in the Marpole area as a dedication and tribute to the remembrance
of the Japanese-Canadian Internment saga of Vancouver's history. The cherry
tree graft from the Kogawa homestead WILL be planted there. Imagine that
the Kogawa Homestead will be planted there too... What a wonderful home for
a storied house - featured in the books Obasan, and Naomi's Road.
This proposal is so wonderfully simple - it could be a win-win-win situation
for all involved.
1 - The home and property owner gets rid of the house, and builds a new
single home on the property.
2 - The Committe gets to save the home, and create a new role for it for the
Arts community, on a new park complete with cherry trees.
3 - The city of Vancouver, gets to preserve one of its historic and cultural
treasure and pay tribute and rememberance to a historically significant
time of its history.
So an important question is this... what is more important, keeping the house
on the property... or finding a way to have the house safe, but on a different
piece of property where iw would be safer.
Please sign the petition to preserve the Kogawa Homestead.
Click on the white banner - this will forward you to an on-line petition.
Donations can be made in care of the Vancouver Heritage Foundation