Our first Grassroots Forum was held on February 2nd, 2019. It was hosted by JASM and JETAAMN, and sponsored by Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA and the US JET Alumni Association (USJETAA).
As many different local US-Japan organizations got together on Saturday morning, they were greeted by Kate Thersleff, President of JETAAMNl and JASM board member; Bahia Simons-Lane, Executive Director of USJETAA; and Joy Champaloux, Program Officer of Sasakawa USA.
Following networking and introductions, Liz Brailsford, COO of the Worlds Affairs Council and the event’s keynote speaker, spoke about the importance of US-Japan relations and how in the present day, grassroots diplomacy is more important than ever.
The local organizations then gave their introductions and discussed common challenges and solutions to implement in their task of promoting US-Japan relations. The organizations in attendance were: Cambridge Sister City Commission, Twin Cities Japanese American Citizens League. JASM, JETAAMN, Minnesota Council of Teachers of Japanese, Minnesota Nikkei Project, MN Nihonjinkai/Japanese Library, Mori no Ike, Red Wing Sister Cities Commission, Saint Paul - Nagasaki Sister City Committee, Sansei Yonsei Kai, Sasakawa USA, The Department of Asian Languages and Literatures at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, USJETAA, and the World Affairs Councils of America.
After their discussions, Kate Thersleff, JASM Executive Director Rio Saito, Bahia Simons-Lane, and President of St. Paul - Nagasaki Sister City Committee, JoAnn Blatchley, gave presentations on various topics, such as fundraising, leadership management, and volunteer recruitment. Around the last hour of the event, the organization split into two groups to further discusses ideas and challenges to successfully further grassroots diplomacy.
JASM would like to thank Sasakawa USA and JETAA for their sponsorship of Minnesota’s first Grassroots Forum. Special thanks to the Mall of America for gifting every group a gift bag and JK’s Table for providing food. And of course, thank you to everyone who attended the event. We are looking forward to working together to continue our mission of strengthening ties between Japan and the US.