Archive for category events

Mark Your Calendar! Southern Alameda Buddhist Church Events

The most fun I’ve had at a local event in a while was at the Southern Alameda County Buddhist Church‘s Japanese Bazaar last weekend. You’ve probably driven past the church grounds on Alvarado-Niles in Union City a few times. When I saw Union City Patch’s article about the bazaar, I figured it was my chance to take a look. Good decision!

There were a lot of choices at the event. You could set your course for all food, all entertainment, or all family fun at the bazaar. Outdoors, there was a tantalizingly smoky teriyaki burger grill, a table laden with manju and (storebought) mochi, game stalls for kids and adults, bingo,  a silent auction, and a few flea-market-type tables, including bonsai, peppers, and more. There was plenty of shade, a big bonus. You could also cool down with Japanese beer and other cold drinks.

If you headed into the sangha (community) hall, there were other shopping opportunities including used Japanese and English books (woohoo!), devotional items, jewelry, inexpensive vintage kimono, and handmade fabric items. A stage was set to feature everything from taiko to a lecture, but when we were there, it was ukulele. Can’t miss with ukulele, if they know what they’re doing, and they did. There was more manju and mochi, green tea ice cream, nachos (of course), and a well-organized hot food line that included udon, Japanese-style curry, and more. Cups of hot tea or cold water were included. I got the garlic noodles, a kind of Italian-Filipino-Japanese fusion, and really wanted to order another plate. At $3, I could have ordered two more! I admit I also split a teriyaki burger with my spouse. It was only $3.50 or so with pineapple added to it, and it was actually very good.

That was one great plus: although there was less variety, prices were about half of the cost of similar items at the Japantown Street Fair or Cherry Blossom Festival. Also, the noise level was lower, and you could eat indoors. It’s also very easy to get there, and although the parking lot was full, it wasn’t hard to park around the corner in a subdivision. In addition, this event is one of the few in the Tri-City area in which our Japanese and Japanese-American community is very visible. I felt a sense of strong community, particularly in the sangha hall as people greeted and talked with each other.

Admission is free, so I recommend checking this event out next year! They will also have an Obon event in August. Obon is a Japanese festival similar in some ways to Dia de los Muertos. Community members commemorate the spirits of the dead, may visit and clean family members’ graves, and may join festivals that include “Bon odori,” the Obon dance. SABC’s Obon event opens at 5 with food stalls until 6, and dancing starts at 7. According to the website, “everyone is invited!”

This year is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the church, and I think I read that they’re going to have a general celebration in the fall. If I find out details, I’ll post here.

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Make Us Visible

California Complete Count

Our cities are often overshadowed by larger ones like San Francisco and San Jose, or towns that are smaller yet richer or more “newsworthy,” like Berkeley and Palo Alto. The national census, which happens every 10 years, is a chance to not only update the numbers on our “Welcome To…” signs, but to make ourselves visible–as a state, as a region, as cities, and as age, gender, and ethnic communities.

In order to find out how much money the state, county, and city should get (for schools and other services), and how many representatives our state should have in Congress, we have to know how many people live in each city. Census results are also used look for inequalities such as civil rights violations, education disparities, and so on (and hopefully to help address these problems). So you and I really need to take a few minutes and fill out the census this year and send it in. It’s much shorter than usual, so it shouldn’t take much effort.

You can get information for it in lots of languages, so please encourage any friends or family who don’t read English well to fill it out, too. The details of the census are private for 72 years. According to US law, the INS, the FBI, Homeland Security, the IRS, the police, your landlord, etc., cannot get to the information you fill out. (And yes, non-citizens can and should fill it out. Anyone who is living at the address should be counted, regardless of their status.) So please fill it out honestly and fully, and remember to write down both adults and children in your household. New residents of the US, non-native English speakers, and younger people tend not to get represented, and that’s not good.

In 2000, although our area’s response rate was above average, a lot of people still didn’t get counted. Let’s change that!

Previously, Newark was the winner with a rate of 78%–well, that’s still only a grade of C, isn’t it?–followed by Union City 77%. Milpitas tied Fremont at 76% (my “tract” was at only 66%! Ouch, you guys! Especially with some other areas coming in at 84%!). I’m pretty sure we can do better than that.

It’s easiest if you mail it back right after you get it, (postage is paid for you), but if you don’t, you’ll probably get an in-person visit from a census taker. That worker will ask you the questions in person, so please be nice to them–they’re probably terrified of anti-government folks screaming at them. It’s just their job–and yes, technically, you are required to participate in the census and answer honestly, so it’s better to just get it done by mail.

About 3 million people will also receive the longer American Community Survey, which is a longer survey with socioeconomic questions that’s like the old long-form census. This is sent out every year to this relatively small segment of the population, so you probably won’t get it.

There’s a lot of information at the state census website, California Complete Count, and the national census website. You can see what’s on the questionnaire and why. You can read about some of the ways in which your community benefits from responses. There’s also a nice site for teachers and students. Queer the Census, an effort to get an outright question about sexual orientation placed on the census or American Community Survey, has a FAQ with advice about answering the census/ACS if you are LGBTQ and/or in a multiracial relationship (the latter because apparently the “ethnicity of a family” is determined by the ethnicity of whoever is listed as respondent #1, so if you were going to pick at random, you might want to consider that, since many groups are historically under-counted in the census).

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Best wishes for a happy Diwali

I know fairly little about Diwali other than what I’ve read in the newspapers and on Wikipedia, but I know it’s important to a lot of my neighbors in and around Fremont. I guess asking “Why are there Christmas lights up so early?” is a kind of ritual for clueless people who move into Fremont from other parts of the world or other parts of the US that don’t have a large South Asian population. :) I’ve answered this question many times myself since finding out about Diwali… But as it’s getting darker earlier and earlier and we’ve already had our first “Bay Area winter” storm, it’s not surprising at all that there is a “festival of lights”-type of holiday going on.

When I was looking up Diwali to see if there were any relevant videos, I saw the president’s video and assumed it wouldn’t be at all relevant, because politicians’ sound-bites about holidays they don’t observe are usually terribly generic. But this is actually specific to the holiday.

How did he do? (Not politically, I mean in terms of discussing Diwali!)

As this is a lunar holiday like Chinese New Year (and Easter, really), next year’s Diwali will fall on November 5. If you plan ahead, there are usually dances and other festivities that you may be able to attend.

diwali by Raven3k

diwali by Raven3k


Finally, glowing images of Diwali 2009 from around the world, posted to the Flickr blog just as I was about to publish this post. Maybe you can find our area in there later tonight or tomorrow morning!

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