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This Place Matters Stand Up for Mukai

Photograph by Terry Donnelly – Joe McDermott, Mary Matsuda Gruenewald, and Dow Constantine gather for the “This Place Matters” photograph.
Photograph by Terry Donnelly – Joe McDermott, Mary Matsuda Gruenewald, and Dow Constantine gather for the “This Place Matters” photograph.

On a sunny Saturday, over 200 people gathered in the street next to the fenced and closed Mukai House and Garden to celebrate "This Place Matters – Stand Up for Mukai," an event jointly sponsored by The Washington Trust for Historic Preservation Program, 4Culture, King County Historic Preservation, Vashon-Maury Island Heritage Association, and Friends of Mukai. The partners gathered with the members of Friends of Mukai to highlight the need to preserve and restore the landmarked Mukai Agricultural Complex; and to realize the original vision to develop the complex as an education center, as a community meeting place, and as a place to enjoy the peacefulness of Kuni’s Japanese Garden.
 
The "This Place Matters" event included supporting speeches by County Executive Dow Constantine, King County Council Member Joe McDermott, Flo Lentz representing 4Culture, Katharine Golding representing the Vashon-Maury Heritage Association, Glenda Pearson the President of Friends of Mukai, and Mary Matsuda Gruenewald, author of Looking Like the Enemy, a Japanese-American Internee, and a friend of the Mukai family.
 
In describing why the Mukai property must be saved, Dow Constantine said we all "have a common interest in the survival of the house and property." Flo Lentz, from 4Culture, recognized that the Mukai property "is all about the Vashon story, it is a piece of island history, and the people of Vashon must be involved in its future in a meaningful way." Joe McDermott reiterated this theme saying "This place matters for Vashon, for King County, and this place matters for the region." Katharine Golding, told the crowd that the Heritage Association "very enthusiastically supports the Friends of Mukai." And, Mary Matsuda Gruenewald remarked that she was "very, very pleased to be here as a witness to the history of the Mukai family and their part in making Vashon a place noteworthy around the country."
 
Glenda Pearson, Friends of Mukai President, noted, "The fence surrounding the house and garden was a visible symbol to all who attended of the differences between those sponsoring this event outside the fence, the people seeking to restore the property and open it to the public; and those inside the fence who have failed in 13 years to make significant progress in realizing the original vision."
 
The street fair, speeches and music culminated with Jean Sherrard, who works with Paul Dorpat in producing the weekly "Now and Then" column in the Sunday Seattle Times, taking a mass photo of the over 200 people gathered around a giant banner which read "This Place Matters."
 
Friends of Mukai helped organize this event with their partner organizations to highlight the communities desire to see and participate in the restoration of the house and garden, something that absentee Island Landmarks has not provided over the past 13 years. Friends of Mukai wants to help realize the original vision to develop the Mukai site as an iconic historic site for Vashon, for King County and for the Pacific Northwest region.