How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Japanese American, other organizations in Southern California pull together for quake relief

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A television screen in Nagoya, Japan displays a news report, March 11, 2011

Two large fundraising events for victims of last week's devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake in northeastern Japan last week are taking place all day today at Angel Stadium in Anaheim and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, where "drive-through" donations for the American Red Cross's relief effort are being accepted.

The Japan America Society of Southern California has information on both events posted on its website; the organization's president, Doug Erber, said the Los Angeles Dodgers organization approached the group Friday with the idea of helping out and it went from there. Both events today are being hosted by the Red Cross and by ABC Chanel 7, which is promoting today's fundraisers.

A similar event is happening tomorrow at Dodger Stadium, this one hosted by NBC Channel 4.

Japanese Americans have been raising funds in a number of different ways, setting up everything from relief funds to donation boxes in hotel lobbies, like at the Intercontinental Hotel in Century City, a property that's owned by a Japanese company. Some people have taken up individual collections, like a woman who raised more than $3,200 solo over the weekend, said Erber, whose group has urged its members to donate online to relief efforts. An arts collective has put together its own fundraiser for the victims.


Site posts updates from Japan that are simple, heartbreaking

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A tsunami warning sign on a Japanese beach, July 2004

Throughout the day, as I've followed news of the continuing devastation in northeastern Japan after its 8.9 magnitude quake, I've linked a couple of times to one website that keeps drawing me back for its succinct updates. The website of Roound, a mobile technology startup out of Singapore, has set up a page on which constant updates are posted from Tokyo as developments occur.

The updates, taken from news sources in Japan, are short and terse, giving it the feel of something between a Twitter feed (which it also is, @alertdisaster) and a scrolling ticker. And they are in English, which helps.

"Airport in Sendai is now completely submerged under water," one update reads. "It is a true devastating disaster."

The scope of the disaster, with its mounting death toll, the flooding, raging fires, a damaged nuclear reactor and mass evacuations, is truly dizzying. But there was a simple update on the Roound feed about half an hour ago that brought it down to human scale:


Japan quake draws links, comments and prayers on Facebook

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As has become the norm during world events lately, one of the ways in which people have been getting togehter to provide information, ask questions or simply comment on the killer earthquake that struck Japan yesterday afternoon is on Facebook.

In the time since the quake hit off the country's northeast coast, a series of English-language pages dedicated to the earthquake have sprung up on which people are posting good wishes or valuable tools, like links to the bilingual Google Person Finder page specific to the disaster.

Some Japanese American Facebook group pages have been active also, like that of the Japan Society of San Diego and Tijuana. From the page this morning:

My family in Yokohama said this is the biggest earthquake ever felt there. 10 hours later, the land was still shaking. They have their shoes on in the house ready to evacuate!! I could not get hold of them by phone, but I did through email which went to their cell phone as a form of text. (Thank goodness for the internet!!) My heart goes to the people in Miyagi where devastating Tsunami hit.


Japan quake: How to find people, how to help

Photo by emrank/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A television screen in Nagoya, Japan displays a news report, March 11, 2011

Several online resources have sprung up in the wake of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that struck northern Japan, among them a Google People Finder tool in English and Japanese that is part of a Google crisis response resource with emergency numbers and other information.

The tech news website CNET has also posted a list of good quake information resources.

The Japanese consulate in Los Angeles said that officials are in the process of setting up a hotline for people seeking information on relatives; the consulate office can be reached at (213) 617-6700. Other hotlines have been set up abroad, including a Canadian government hotline and a Filipino government hotline for those with family in Japan.

Land line service has been out and cell service is spotty, said Doug Erber, president of the Los Angeles-based Japan America Society of Southern California. Erber said he and his wife, who is from Japan, stayed up all last night trying to reach in-laws, relative, and friends. He said the best way the group's members have been able to reach people on their own is via international cell phone, which several members have, and via Twitter.


'Click if you like our champurrado:' Taqueros embrace social media

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Tacos and champurrado, hot off a taco truck, December 2006

The other day, I mentioned in a conversation that I'd begun following the acclaimed Nina's Food (@BreedStScene) on Twitter. The old-school Boyle Heights quesadilla expert, who placed first in last year's L.A. Vendy Awards, has a Twitter feed that's sporadic but has more than 1,200 followers. How great it would be, my friend mused, if more traditional vendors like Nina's embraced social media and prospered. "Some of them could do pretty well," he said.

Turns out there are quite a few taqueros who have had this idea, embracing the ways of the non-taco trucks that sell things like, say, grilled cheese. Earlier this week, the blog LA Taco published a list of some traditional taco trucks that have taken to the Libro de Caras, i.e. Facebook.

I liked this no-nonsense entry from Tacos El Gallito last month: