The JACL NCWNP District Council held its first quarterly meeting of 2019, hosted by the Eden Township JACL Chapter, on Feb. 10. Twenty-one chapters sent delegates to the meeting, which was held at the Eden Japanese Community Center in San Lorenzo, Calif.
The center has served as a focal point for the surrounding Nikkei community since before World War II, and reflects the dedication and generosity of the Issei and Nisei generations.
In 1931, Minoru and Masa Okada donated an acre of their nursery property to the Japanese American community of Eden Township. The Issei then started a fundraising drive for construction of a building called the Ashland Gakuen. It would be used for a Japanese language school, sports activities, movies, Buddhist Sunday School, social gatherings and the Eden Township JACL.
During the war, Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from the area by Executive Order 9066. Some years later in the 1950s, the building was vandalized and set afire, later to be condemned.
In 1962, JACL leaders and the community decided to keep the property and build a new center. Berkeley architect Arthur Iwata designed and developed the plans. The initial Sumitomo Bank loan to finance construction was made possible because Nisei members of the Eden JACL board of directors put up their nurseries as collateral. A donation drive was conducted during the construction phase, giving birth to the first annual Eden Bazaar in 1964. To this day, the bazaar continues to be an annual event featuring food, auction, games and crafts.
Among JACL business covered at the meeting was the adoption of the District’s 2019 budget, an update on the District Gala slated for April 6, the National Convention scheduled in July, JACL membership numbers and recruitment, the idea of creating a District Youth Council, the $1 Million Fundraising Campaign by National JACL and Memorial Day services, which the district co-sponsors each year with Nisei VFW Post #9879.
A special guest that afternoon was former Congressman Mike Honda, who addressed the District Council about a possible convention resolution to repeal the Alien Enemies Act of 1798.