Sister City Fujiyoshida to contribute to Waldo Canyon Fire relief
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Funds to be presented by Mayor Horiuchi of Fujiyoshida to Mayor Steve Bach at the 50th Anniversary Sister City Celebration and Mountain Festival on Aug. 4
In 1962 Colorado Springs and Fujiyoshida, Japan, became Sister Cities. For fifty years the two communities have developed personal relationships through educational and economic activities, and most recently, by supporting one another through community tragedies.
In 2011, when news of the Tōhokuearthquake and tsunami reached Colorado Springs, the Japan America Society of Southern Colorado went into action, raising more than $47,000 in aid for Japanese relief efforts.
Now, a world away and caught in the midst of a dreary rainy season, residents of Fujiyoshida are responding in kind, raising funds for Waldo Canyon Fire relief efforts in Colorado Springs, their Sister City.
The fund drive began with a spontaneous performance by a local taiko drumming group on a train platform. The drummers played for thirty minutes to raise awareness and funds for those affected by the fire at the base of Pikes Peak. Fujiyoshida, a city of 52,000 at the foot of Mt. Fuji, was selected as a Sister City because of geographic similarities and economies built on tourism and military presence. It has become clear through the response to the Waldo Canyon Fire that residents of the Japanese city feel an affinity with individuals living in the Pikes Peak region.
“The moment it became ‘real’ was when we learned that the Flying W Ranch had burned, which was host to many of our fond memories,” said Robin Lawrentz, Coordinator for International Relations at Fujiyoshida City Hall. Dinner at The Flying W would have been part of the much anticipated list of events surrounding the upcoming visit by the Sister City delegation form Fujiyoshida.
Lawrentz, a Colorado Springs native, said the tragedy seemed so distant at first but has grown in magnitude due to continual updates from friends and relatives. Seeing and hearing about the devastation has led to much generosity. “The plan is to continue raising as much in donations as we can. Much more is needed to bring comfort and support to the victims, but many here are playing their role in the healing process.”
The campaign is growing through donations from the mayor of Fujiyoshida, high school students, concerned individuals, and local organizations.
Mayor Horiuchi of the City of Fujiyoshida will deliver the funds in person to Mayor Steve Bach during the Everybody Welcome Mountain Festival and 50thAnniversary Celebration of the Sister City relationship on Saturday, August at 6 p.m.
For details about the Golden Anniversary Mountain Festival to be held Saturday, August 4, from noon to 8 p.m. at America the Beautiful Park, please visit www.cospdiversityforum.org. The Mountain Festival launches a full week of Everybody Welcome activities throughout the community.
Colorado Springs Diversity Forum
Robert Stein CSDF Communications and Media Relations Chair
Japan America Society of Southern Colorado
Paul Maruyama, President
Colorado Springs Sister Cities International
David Jenkins, President
City of Colorado Springs
Julie Smith, Communications Specialist
Fujiyoshida City Hall
Robin Lawrentz, Coordinator for International Affairs