Thursday’s gallery opening is fast approaching, and as much as I am anticipating our first official unveiling to the outside world, I’m really starting to realize how much positive relationship building has gone into the process of making this all possible. I, and I’m sure all the other J-Tells, have had to think about relationship building on a few levels by now:
1. Japantown Community.
As I have heard repeatedly during this project, and previously through my internship at the JCCCNC, “This community [Japantown] is built on trust.” We are engaged in a project whose goal is to promote unity between J-Town groups, but how can we bring the community together if the community doesn’t know us? How can we express our good will to businesses and Japantown organizations in only a few months?
2. Suite J-Town Team.
There are 8 of us J-Tells. Only a few of us knew each other prior to this project. How can we make sure everyone feels useful despite different schedule availabilities and talents? The community we build internally, within Suite J-Town staff, will reflect back onto the project as a whole.
First Voice derives its name from the idea that “from the personal, comes the interpersonal.” Through expressing our deepest held feelings, we invite others to express themselves, but this can only be done if we are fully charged and healthy. During the busiest of times, how can we be both productive and healthy?
Brenda calls this cycle of positive socialization “creating synergy,” where the process of meeting and really talking to people is really just as important as the kick-off events, the performances, the shows. It’s why our logo resembles a wheel, where spirit, heart, and soul propel one another by centripetal force until we all reach our collective destination. Community Building.
I don’t think it’s unique to Japanese American heritage, but it’s something I’ve only ever experienced within Japanese American community circles, from Taiko Classes, to my internship at the JCCCNC, to here at Suite J-Town.
Some of my favorite J-Tell moments have been in micro-interactions with other J-Tells, like last Wednesday, when Charlene and I went to get Boba Tea with cotton candy. We posed for pictures in front of the gallery as people shot us curious glances. Or last Saturday, when Junho and Marissa took a lunch break during our gallery cleaning session and returned with a bunch of onigiri and takoyaki to share with everyone. And especially last Friday, April 3, when I arrived an hour late to a meeting on my birthday with Brenda, Mark, and Marissa during the peak of Suite J-town PR stress and deadlines, and they still found the time to surprise me with a Birthday pie and lunch! These are the little things that happen that we don’t always publicize or talk about, and these are the things that keep me going all the time.
This is Suite J-town, and now you know. <3