Right to Remain Workshop at the Powell Street Festival
Date: August 1 & 2, 2014
Time: Noon-3:00 PM
Location: Powell Street Festival, Alexander Street
From Andy Mori’s reflection on the Powell Street Festival/Oppenheimer Park Tent City Postcard Project:
In a “Revitalizing Japantown?” arts team brainstorming session for its upcoming participation at the Powell Street Festival we hit upon an idea. Why not have the festival participants write postcards of encouragement to the Oppenheimer Part Tent City and visa versa? This would be an actual bridge between communities across the divides of history showing the common concern about human rights.
I did the graphic design of the postcards choosing images from the boys team of Asahi Baseball, a local legendary Japanese Canadians baseball program before the war. A second set of postcards designed with a photo of the tent city occupying the very area of the baseball diamond what are the boys one stood was used as well to lend a bridge across time in the same location. Once implemented at the festival, the postcards were written by festival goers who signed over 30 of them supervised and encouraged by myself and arts team members Ali Lohan and Quin Martins. Using a rapidly obsolete medium reinforced its performative aspect of replicating historic communication practises. Varley and arts team member Karen Ward were assigned the task of taking the Tent City postcards to Oppenheimer Park for its occupants to sign and send back to the festival. This process is still ongoing as there are formalities, obstacles and issues of trust in order to get those postcards signed and sent back but it is still being carried on.
I want to consider this postcard project to be a great success as avenues of history lessons, hand writing support as petitioning and acknowledgement of human rights were touched upon all at once. It also reminded how festival was originally a call of activism and Japanese Canadian redress, and that historic apologies still hang in the air waiting to be said still and their attendant responsibilities.