The AACP Newsletter
Since 1970 Asian American Curriculum Project, Inc. - Books for All Ages October 2004
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At a Glance

Plant Preserve Protect
A new book published

Vote Cancellation by Ignorant Voters
An editorial on why you should maybe vote

AACP Is Proud to Present
Plant Preserve Protect

Review by Philip Chin

Edited by Lewis Kawahara
A Publication of PGFNC
2004, 179 pages, paperback.

ORDER -- Item #3253
Price $25.00

So why should you read a book about a gardener's association? Because "Plant Preserve Protect" written by the Professional Gardeners' Federation of Northern California (PGFNC) and edited by Lewis Kawahara is a fascinating book that goes beyond the narrow limits of its general subject matter.

Barred from holding other jobs because of racist laws and customs in the US and possessing little or no prospects for an education in English, many Japanese immigrant men entered the gardening profession. Gardening in the early 20th Century required little formal education, and more importantly, the basic equipment needed could be bought cheaply or borrowed. Moreover, many of the immigrants had been farmers in Japan so the work wasn't all that different from what they were used to. Between the years 1908 and 1911 fully 50% of Japanese American men were engaged in gardening or other horticultural activities.

World War II and the internment of Japanese Americans highlighted the need to organize collectively to live in the camps. Fresh produce was hard to come by in the remote locations where the camps were located. The many gardeners interned found plenty of work to do supplementing the food provided by the military to the camps by growing fruits and vegetables. They also found the need to create beauty in the bleakness that they found themselves in by growing flowers.

The history of the PGFNC is as much a history of Japanese Americans as they have changed over the years as it is of an organization. Founded as the Northern California Gardeners Association in 1955, the PFGNC, as it became in 1964, helped bring professionalism to what had been a more or less informal profession. It was also a place to bring together Japanese Americans for mutual aid, especially in the creation and sponsorship of education in professional gardening. This reflected the postwar need of Japanese Americans to fight collectively for their rights through organization and education.

This book is a must read because it reflects the Japanese Americans as a people through the course of the 20th Century and beyond. From their immigrant roots to their humiliation during World War II, through the decades long process of gaining respect and power through organization and education, and finally with the decline of the original organization as the educated children and grandchildren of the gardeners move to higher paid and prestigious jobs.

Editor's Message

Hi Everyone. It was great to see you at our past month's events. We hope you had a chance to visit the store. If you still haven't, we have three great reasons for you to come by in November. Check out the details listed below.

I have to be brief, I'm working on three projects and I have to read my election handbooks. I think I have approximately 30 proposition to read before next Tuesday. Don't you think this is getting a little out of hand? But I better not get started on this, I could do another editorial on this subject alone :).

Thank you Jaime Young, Michael Kim, and Melissa Eng for helping with this month's newsletter and calendar project. Thanks to all the people that helped with our events and thank you very much to all the wonderful authors and presenters that came to talk about their books.

Leonard Chan
Executive Editor

Events at AACP in November

Saturday, November 6 at 1 p.m.
Hazuki Kataoka, author of special editions of "Momotaro, the Peach Boy" and "Jack in the Bean Stalk" will demonstrate her kamishibai or story card theater for children of all ages. Reading with Hazuki will be Erika Shimahara, a teacher of Japanese and English language and culture. Children are encouraged to attend this entertaining presentation.

Saturday, November 13th at 1 p.m.
Award-winning author Ruthanne Lum McCunn will read from her famous book "Thousand Pieces of Gold." All six of her current titles will be available for signing.

Saturday, November 20th at 1 p.m.
Renown author Frank Chin joins us to introduce his new book.

Up Coming Events

Here are some events that AACP will soon be attending.
Invite us to your events.
Nov. 6
1 pm
Kamishibai or Story Card Theater AACP
San Mateo, CA
Nov. 13
1 pm
Ruthanne Lum McCunn AACP
San Mateo, CA
Nov. 13 Japanese American Museum of San Jose Craft Show San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin
San Jose, CA
Nov. 20
1 pm
Frank Chin AACP
San Mateo, CA
Nov. 19
6-10 pm
Nov. 20
8 am-5 pm
National Pacific Islander Educator Network (NPIEN)/Pacific Islanders Association (PIA) Annual Conference CSU Long Beach
Long Beach, CA
Other Event of Interest that AACP May Not Attend
Oct. 27–31 Nat. Assoc. for Multicultural Ed. (NAME) 2004 Conference Kansas City, MO
Nov. 5-7 National Asian American Student Conference USC Campus
Los Angeles, CA

Give Us Your Feedback

Please feel free to send us your reviews, comments, and book suggestions. You can contact us at -
Leonard Chan
Executive Editor
Philip Chin

Vote Cancellation by Ignorant Voters
An Editorial by Leonard Chan and
Edited by Philip Chin
"Voters should pass a political literacy test." What was I reading? While on vacation in Maui, I picked up a local newspaper (Maui Time Weekly). One editorial in particular caught my eye - "Triumph of the Stultocracy: Voters should pass a political literacy test."

What was the writer, Ted Rall, talking about? After reading his piece with some chuckles and my head often shaking in agreement, I was amazed at the tangent that Rall was taking from the standard line of encouraging people to vote.

Rall's basic point was that recent polls and man on the street interviews (see the poll done by the Program on International Policy Attitudes indicating voter ignorance) have shown that a large percentage of the general public is ill equipped to vote and thus should not. Rall goes on to suggest that people should pass a political literacy test before voting. It was radical and a bit disconcerting that he made some sense.

He was right, why should I do so much studying of election candidates and issues, if other people that do far less can so easily cancel my vote? Shouldn't all the good citizens that do their political homework be upset at ignorant voters? Why should anybody that has a pulse vote? Had America become "a stultocracy: government by morons, for morons?"

To quash these anti-democratic thoughts, I searched for reason to vote.

Reasons to Vote

The first reason that I could think of was empowerment - the psychological importance of feeling in control. What contributes to happiness is feeling that you have some control of your life. Voting may not give you a great sense of control, but it is a very rare case where nothing you vote for wins. Even the smallest win helps us feel some measure of control. Don't you feel a bit of joy when a sports team you cheer for wins? You didn't have much to do with the win, but don't you feel like you had something to do with it? The same can be said for voting - you may not consider your vote as meaning much, but it is satisfying to know something you voted for won.

Winning Isn't Everything
Contrary to the popular sports axiom, winning isn't really everything. Feeling that you made your voice heard is also important. Even when you are on the losing side, you have the comfort of knowing that many people feel the same way you do. Knowing the score gives us a measure of the progress of our causes. It's what keeps us from taking up arms every time we don't get our way.

Elections are the ultimate polls, they are the official record, and they are the means by which the citizenry creates its government. Smart politicians will not ignore the losing side if the percentages are high enough.

Who's Right?
Even if you guess, you have a 50% chance of being right on yes and no issues or two people races. Even the experts that study the candidates and the issues can have widely opposing points of view. People that are fully knowledgeable still disagree.

How do you know that you're right? Just because you may be armed with knowledge and logic that support your point of view, facts can often be interpreted in many ways. A strong belief in one's own correctness can often hinder one's ability to understand nuances that make candidates and issues gray rather than black or white.

Sometimes the things that we want can have unintended consequences that we could not have foreseen - we've all experienced, read, or seen stories of such tales (take almost any Twilight Zone episode :). So why should we assume that a well-informed person would make any better decision than a less informed one?

Connecting With Your Neighbors
Voting is the least that one can do to participate in society. Voting can reengage people to think beyond their own little worlds. This is

important for complex societies such as our own. Most of us don't live on remote islands or in the woods where our actions might only affect ourselves. The completely libertarian system, where everybody does whatever they want, doesn't work when almost anything you do has some ramifications to your fellow man. You need to sometimes work with your neighbors, connect with them, make your voice heard, and vote.

Back to Outrage and What We Can Do

Please don't misconstrue my arguments above as advocacy for ignorant voters. I am upset to hear that others spend so little time to learn about the issues and the candidates, when I take it much more seriously. I don't like having my vote canceled out by some ignorant and/or illogical person on the other side. However, Ted Rall's idea of a competency test before voting is misguided and would not work. The public would never accept a political test in order to vote. I'm not even sure if it would be constitutionally legal.

Stay Informed
Part of the solution is with all of us that claim to know. Yes, especially you educators and people in the media. The scary thing about an ignorant populace is how people with power, money, and media access can manipulate the less knowledgeable voter. To combat the influences of power and money we need to work hard at staying informed with good and reliable information.

It's your duty as a citizen or even as a non-voting resident to stay informed. We must learn to ignore sound bites in commercials, short flyers, and comedic entertainment. Rather than going for bites, go for the whole meal - read, listen, and watch, but choose your sources wisely. Thanks to PBS, NPR, and the Internet, we can find good information. It's sometimes tough to know when you are hearing or reading political spin, but there are some good sources out there. You have to work at it. But I know you're already a pro at this since you've found us :).

Stay Engaged
Be concerned, care about making a difference for good, and empathize with your neighbors. Even participating in discussions with friends and relatives can help. Friends and relatives often trade political jabs with us, forcing us to do our homework and stay on our toes. If we can't defend our positions, perhaps our beliefs are faulty. Political discussions can be productive, but don't let it get personal and don't let it ruin your friendships.

Volunteer for Non-Violent Causes
Note the emphasis on non-violent. If your cause is true, you will not need arms and violence. All that is required in a functional society is a lot of persistence and hard work. Working with non-profit organizations can be both good for society and for your own mental health. It feels good to be actively involved in a cause rather than just sitting on the sidelines complaining. Give it a try - we, as a non-profit organization, are always looking for help :).

Give a Helping Hand to Inform Others
Teachers are in an enviable position, but there are other ways to multiply your efforts. For example, this newsletter, I hope, is doing something to contribute to your knowledge base. Doing the research for it certainly helps me learn many things. As you educate others, keep in mind that you don't necessarily have all the answers. To do so would demonstrate a type of arrogance that may reduce your power to persuade.

And If You Don't Know…
If you don't know or don't have an educated guess, it's okay not to vote. Every election usually has a zillion issues and candidates to consider. I often find it impossible to make up my mind or learn about everything on the ballot. Do what you can and be happy for just participating or just sit back, let someone else do the heavy lifting, and don't complain.

Keep in mind that you're the fourth branch of government. At every election you become the boss - you have the power to fire or hire; you are in control. So use your power wisely and I hope your candidates and issues win (provided that they're in agreement with mine :-).


The following books are discounted for subscribers to our newsletter. The discounts on these books end November 22, 2004.

Plant Preserve Protect

Edited by Lewis Kawahara
A Publication of the Professional Gardeners' Federation of Northern California
2004, 179 pages, paperback.

This book covers the history of the Professional Gardener' Federation of Northern California as told by the individual chapters of the organization. Because of the overwhelming percentages of Japanese American members during the early history of the organization, this book reveals an interesting facet of the Japanese American experience. This is a must read for anyone that knows someone in the business.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3253, Retailed Price $25.00

Thousand Pieces of Gold

By Ruthanne Lum McCunn
1981, 308 pages, Paperback.

This is a new edition of Ruthanne Lum McCunn's classic novel, based on the life of Polly Bemis (Lalu), the story of a 19th century Chinese migrant to the US. The story covers her life of virtual bondage to eventual freedom in the early American West.

This edition includes a new reader's guide that details McCunn's research for the novel and her discoveries in the years since.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #150, Price $14.00

The Peach Boy

Retold by Hazuki Kataoka and David Battino
Illustrated by Mario Uribe
Published by Leaf Moon Arts
2003, 24 pages, boxed story cards.

This is a version of the classic Japanese folktale Momotaro (the Peach Boy). The publisher of this product, Leaf Moon Arts, has created a unique product based on the old story telling methods of 1930s itinerant Japanese storytellers. This is an unbound card book that allows the storyteller to read the story and show pictures to an audience at the same time.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3254, Price $24.95

The Boy Who Tricked the Ghosts

By Ellie Crowe
Illustrated by Tammy Yee
2003, 36 pages, hardback.

This is the story of Ka'ulu, a real-life mischiefmaker who lived on the Hawaiian island of Maui and then is banished to the island of Lana'i more than five centuries ago. It is a story of cunning and triumph.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3255, Price $15.99


By George Suyeoka, Robert B. Goodman, Robert A. Spicer
Illustrated by George Suyeoka
2003, 65 pages, Hardback.

Armed with a needle for a sword, Issunboshi, the one-inch boy, becomes bodyguard to the Prime Minister's beautiful daughter, Miyuki. On the day she asks him to journey to the Shrine of Ise, where she will pray for a husband, his heart shatters for he is in love. How can the one-inch warrior of this classic Japanese folktale prove his worth to the lovely princess?

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3252, Price $11.99

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