Donations sought for Exclusion Memorial documentary

A community fund-raiser will try to bring in $3,000 for a documentary film and environmental work at the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial.

The BI Parks Foundation is working with the BIJAEM Association to mark the 80th anniversary of the forced exclusion of BI’s Japanese Americans for incarceration during World War II.

“The wartime exclusion and welcome return of the island’s Japanese American neighbors is a foundational story of our community,” said Mary Meier, Parks Foundation executive director. “This partnership is about healing both land and people, as we honor a uniquely Bainbridge Island story that resonates into the present day.”

Local filmmaker Katie Jennings has been selected for a new documentary about the Exclusion Memorial. Jennings’ film will follow the creation and installation of dramatic new interpretive figures at the memorial’s Departure Deck. The large, cut-metal “negative silhouettes,” done by artists Anna Brones and Luc Revel, will depict armed soldiers and departing islanders, powerfully evoking the day of exclusion on March 30, 1942.

“The film may eventually be used in the visitor/interpretive center we hope to build in a few years,” BIJAEMA board president Val Tollefson said Monday, adding until then it will probably be available on the BIJAC and BIJAEMA websites and used in other promotional materials.

The video will be an important historical document, Tollefson added, and will help the organization fundraise for the visitor and interpretive center at the memorial site.

Also, the Parks Foundation will sponsor environmental work at Pritchard Park throughout the year. EarthCorps of Seattle will perform a week of intense restoration in areas overrun by ivy, and volunteer stewardship events are also planned.

Gifts toward the $3,000 community funding goal can be made at Total cost for the documentary film and environmental work is $25,000, with grant support from the city of BI’s Civic Improvement Fund and other sources.

The BI Japanese American Community is planning the 80th year observance at the Exclusion Memorial. Details will be announced soon.

The memorial itself was dedicated in 2004 as a permanent civil rights monument. It is located at Pritchard Park, on the south shore of Eagle Harbor. The memorial’s winding wall and friezes honor the 276 Bainbridge Islanders of Japanese descent – most of them American citizens – who were sent to internment camps shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The memorial has earned international acclaim and tells the exclusion story through the unique experiences of Japanese Americans who were sent into wartime exile but were welcomed back to their Bainbridge Island community after the war.

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