For the past couple of months, I've been following a story for The Rafu Shimpo about the sale of a Japanese American senior home. Keiro Senior HealthCare has been around for more than 50 years, starting as a hospital and evolving over the years into a comprehensive senior care facility, comprising two nursing homes, an intermediate care home, and a retirement home. Two years ago, citing the Affordable Care Act and increasing intermarriage among Japanese Americans, Keiro leadership announced a plan to sell their facilities and focus on giving classes about aging and caregiving instead.
A few individuals protested, but no large-scale movement mobilized until September 2, when the state attorney general approved a sale to for-profit real-estate developer Pacifica Companies. The approval came with 12 conditions, which in a nutshell require Pacifica to 1) keep rents the same for one year, and 2) keep most other policies (notably Japanese culturally sensitive care and acceptance of Medicare and Medi-Cal) the same for five years. Those concrete time limits added a sense of urgency, and a small protest group, called the Ad Hoc Committee to Save Keiro, grew and began to organize.
Keiro expects the sale to close in early 2016. Meanwhile, protesters have begun petitioning the attorney general and Keiro board members to postpone the sale and hold a public hearing. Usually, when a non-profit company sells to a for-profit company, the attorney general will hold a public hearing, but that can be waived, which was the case with Keiro.
The protesters are mostly over 60 and organizing with emails and hard-copy petitions. While over half of the Keiro residents are Japanese speakers from Japan, Keiro leadership are mostly English-speaking Japanese Americans. This event is exposing divides in our small community, along the lines of age, language, race, immigration lineage (prewar vs. postwar and beyond), institutional affiliation, and class. And my partner from The Rafu Shimpo's Japanese section, Nao Nakanishi, and I will be continuing our investigation for the next couple of months at least.
You can follow our coverage in both English and Japanese here and check out my latest contributions below:
- Keiro Addresses Community at Open Meeting (reporting)
The first public meeting of Keiro leadership and community protesters (October 15).
- A Word About Our Keiro Coverage (column)
Background information about our bilingual research and writing process, a case for narrative journalism, and how the concept of "conflicts of interest" fits into reporting in a small, tight-knit ethnic community.
(Photos by Mario Reyes and Nao Nakanishi)
A couple of pieces about topics close to my heart:
- What I learned going to college 3,000 miles away from home, HelloGiggles
"At a small school, in a small town, in a state with a population just over half a million, my classmates and I turned inward for entertainment. During our first year especially, in an all-freshman dorm, we bonded over the smallest things: the first thunderstorm, the first snow, the first streakers (whose clothes we hid in the communal kitchen’s oven)."
- Neither One Nor the Other: Why I Love Being Mixed-Race, RoleReboot
"Being mixed, I always have my eye out for combinations of things—like the disparate parts of my name—that seem unlikely together: a French press beside a samovar, The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe next to the Bible, an old Japanese restaurant in a now-black neighborhood. I love those parts that seem incompatible but that, in a person, come together."
I've been following Yumi Sakugawa's work for a while now, so I loved being able to sit down and talk with her about it. Now our interview is on The Rumpus! Check it out to learn more about Yumi's newest book, which comes out tomorrow.
You can read the entire interview here.
I'm happy to have a couple more articles on Thought Catalog. Check them out below:
- Remember Who Loves You
The one thing that keeps me calm when everything else is making me anxious.
- Read This If You're 25 and Not Sure If You're an Adult Yet
To be honest, I'm 27 now and still not always sure.
I'm so honored to have had the chance to interview one of my favorite writers for The Rafu Shimpo. Her newest novel, Lost Canyon, just came out yesterday, and she'll be reading at Skylight Books in Los Angeles on September 3.
In our conversation, she talked about falling in love with the mountains in Japan, writing across racial boundaries, and rural California's history of white supremacy. Check out the full interview here.
This weekend's Mental Floss stories (or listicles with substance—I hope):
- 4 Artists Who Bring 3D Paintings to Life
A very cool painting technique + videos of artists in action.
- 13 Photos of California's Devastating Drought
California's Drought 101: I briefly explain how it happened, how far its effects reach, and what it might mean for the future of my beautiful home state and other "water-stressed" regions.
I've been writing for a long time but have only been bold enough to start pitching and submitting to new places recently. Both these pieces are a little old to me but new to the internet. Though I wish I'd been confident enough to send them out a long time ago, I'm glad they're up now! Check them out below:
- What meeting my long-lost uncle taught me about family, HelloGiggles
About getting to know my Japanese relatives during my year abroad, then coming home to the US and trying to keep up our relationship.
- Maybe Our Younger Selves Had It Right, Thought Catalog
About being a 20-something among teenagers.
"I love those moments when I can walk through a doorway, or turn a corner, and come unexpectedly upon a different world. That’s how I felt the first time I found Yuko Kitchen. It was a Friday night, three summers ago, and my friend and I had just come from listening to a live jazz band at LACMA. By the time the music ended, the sun had set and the marine layer had fallen, cooling the air. We wanted to find a place to sit and continue talking, so we turned left at the grove of lanterns and wandered, sure that we’d stumble upon the right place."
Read more on The Rafu Shimpo.
I have two new stories up, both on Mental Floss. Check them out below!
- 21 Interesting Words from David Foster Wallace's Vocabulary List
- In This Japanese Children's TV Show, All the Superheroes Are Bread
"It’s 85 degrees in Los Angeles, the air thick with the chance of rain. I’ve been wandering through Zenshuji Soto Mission in Little Tokyo, searching for Fumi Akutagawa and her weekly tea ceremony class. In the basement rec room, toddlers play on the carpet. In the second-floor offices, stacks of envelopes lean precariously over. Through a doorway, I glimpse the hondo, where rows of wooden pews sit before gilded statues of Bodhisattvas in the dark. I know I’ve found the right room, finally, when I see a row of geta outside a door."
Read more on The Rafu Shimpo and check out the video below to learn how to whisk matcha. The sound is so relaxing!