Tour Japantown PDX with StoryMapJS and JuxtaposeJS

Northwestern University Knight Lab has produced some great free storytelling tools. I’ve previously posted about comparing images using JuxtaposeJS. It's great for telling then and now stories when you have a good balance of continuity and change. Here’s a example of frame comparison I made using the tool. Use your mouse to grab the slider and move it up and down.

It shows one of Portland's Japanese owned/managed hotels back in the heyday of Portland's Japantown before the forceable removal and incarceration of its citizens during WWII. More on how to create with JuxtaposeJS

Another KnightLab tool is StoryMapJS, a free tool to help you tell stories on the web that highlight locational content. I've been playing around with StoryMap and thought it might be fun to see if I could embed JuxtaposeJS sliders into a StoryMap. I think the integration worked well - though it is better viewed from this direct link on your desktop / mobile device than in the embed below. (This embed messes a bit with the size of the feature photos.) As you go though the tour you'll see I used a mix of static photographs and image blends I made with JuxtaposeJS.

I had lots of great content from my multi-touch book Portland's Japantown Revealed. It featured engaging then / now photo widgets that allow the user to "paint" history into contemporary photos with a wipe of their finger. So I reused the then / now photo comparisons using the a different tool - JuxtaposeJS and then used them for image content in the StoryMap. Note: Historic images are supplied by Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center. I took the contemporary photos.

Backstory:  I was scheduled to visit Marisa Hirata's 3rd graders at Portland's Alameda Elementary School. Students had been researching Portland's Japantown and had already designed a "shoebox" replica of the community. For my visit, I created this StoryMapJS "tour" and the students used each stop as writing prompts.  This StoryMap was great for helping students to visualize how people's lives were lived in Portland's thriving pre-WWII "Nihonmachi."

Portland to March for Civil Rights Hero – Minoru Yasui

Minoru “Min” YasuiOn the evening of March 28, 1942, Minoru “Min” Yasui, deliberately violated the racially discriminatory curfew against Japanese Americans to test its constitutionality, walking on NW 3rd Avenue in downtown Portland. Min’s lifelong fight for justice and equality led to his recognition as the first Oregonian to be awarded (posthumously) the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

At the age of twenty-six, Yasui put his professional career and his personal liberty on the line for justice. He spent 9 months in solitary confinement at the Multnomah County Jail as he appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. He was released from jail in 1943, only to be sent to the Minidoka American concentration camp in Idaho. More 

Join us to retrace Min’s historic walk for social justice on March 28th 

Please join us on Monday, March 28, as we retrace Min’s historic walk from his law office in the Foster Hotel in Old Town, to the former site of Police Headquarters on SW 2nd Avenue and Oak Street. Gather at Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center (121 NW 2nd Avenue Portland Ore 97209 map) at 4:30 pm for the short 6 block walk followed by a program in the foyer and reception in the offices of Stoll Berne at SW Second Avenue and Oak Street. Download flyer 389KB pdf

Yasui was awarded the 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the country. The Oregon Senate and House unanimously recently passed a historic bill designating March 28 of each year as Minoru Yasui Day. More from the Min Yasui Tribute Project

Never Give Up! – Trailer from Minoru Yasui Film on Vimeo.

Minoru Yasui was born 100 years ago in 1916 in Hood River, Oregon, son of Japanese immigrant parents. He was the first Japanese American to graduate from the University of Oregon School of Law, and the first Japanese American member of the Oregon State Bar.

After the war, he moved to Denver, Colorado, where he continued to fight for human and civil rights of all people. In the 1970s-80s, he spearheaded the national movement for redress: an official apology and reparations for Japanese Americans imprisoned in the World War II camps.

In 1983, he returned to Portland to reopen his wartime case in the U.S. District Court of Oregon. While his conviction was vacated, the court denied his request for an evidentiary hearing, which he appealed. His case was pending in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals when he died in 1986. Minoru Yasui is buried in his beloved hometown of Hood River, Oregon.

Image credit: Holly Yasui / Oregon Encyclopedia link 

Japantown History Awarded “Best Textbook” & “Best Widget”

Cover-Portlands Japantown RevealedI’m pleased to announce that my iBook Portland’s Japantown Revealed was just named “Best Textbook”  at the international iBooks Author Conference. “The iBAs“ are the only peer-nominated, peer-voted awards for best-in-class achievement with Apple’s iBooks Author. I was honored to be a finalist in six categories – #humblebrag.

More on the iBook | Download free at iTunes

The iBook is a collection of historic documents, photographs and video interviews with former Japantown residents that tell the story of Portland’s “Nihonmachi” (Japantown) – a once vibrant community that disappeared with the forced removal and incarceration of its citizens. It’s the fourth title in my Homefront USA series of iBooks. 

The “iBA’s Best Widget of the Year” award was given to my iBook’s “Portland Revealed” widgets that allow the reader to blend historic and contemporary photographs. I created them by seeking out locations of historic photographs where the architecture had been preserved and re-photographing the contemporary setting. The resulting overlay lets the user “paint” the historic figures into modern settings – it’s demonstrated in this video.

My iBook has a companion iOS app - Japantown PDX / Free at iTunes 
Explore Portland Oregon’s historic Japantown with this user-friendly walking tour. The city’s vibrant pre WWII Japanese American community is archived in over 125 photographs and audio clips. Watch historic Japantown street life reappear in “then and now” photographic dissolves. Share content with built in Facebook and Twitter buttons. This GPS-enabled app guides you through Portland’s eight block Japantown, a bustling community in the early decades of the twentieth century – better known today as the colorful Old Town / Chinatown neighborhood.

Many thanks to Portland’s Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center and the Densho Digital Archive for project support and access to their archival collections. The iBook is an outgrowth of a project that teamed my University of Portland edMethods students with the Nikkei Legacy Center.

Teacher’s Guide to Ed Design

Devsigner conference logoI’m pleased to be presenting at the Devsigner Conference in Portland Ore June 27-28. As the organizers describe it

The Devsigner Conference features sessions and workshops focusing on front web design and development techniques, tips and tools. We also aim to inspire our technically inclined creative community with amazing session topics that bridge the gap between art and code. Join us June 27-28th in Portland, Oregon for our second annual celebration of Devsigners.

Devsigner guyConfession – I’m not a dev. But I have spent years designing learning experiences. So my session is titled the Teacher’s Guide to Ed Design. (Sat 11:45am-12:30pm).

My workshop session will offer perspectives on designing engaging learning experiences that motivate students, provoke their reflections and monitor their progress as learners. It should be useful for educational content providers or anyone interested in instructional design. This post provides an overview of my session and provide links for my workshop attendees.

My key takeaways for ed designers:

  1. Have the courage to be less helpful. Are students making choices, reflecting on decisions and sharing their thinking with an audience beyond the teacher?
  2. Teaching is not telling. Teaching is designing learning experiences that provoke 
learner reflection. This happens best when lessons have a social component and an authentic audience.
  3. Let the student be the historian.. . or scientist, mathematician, etc. Think of the art class. Would you expect to see the students passively watching the art teacher paint?

More on info on the my session’s themes and examples:

Free iBook: History of Portland’s Japantown

Portland’s Japantown Revealed Cover

Awarded “Best Textbook” and “Best Widget, 2015” More

I’m pleased to introduce my multitouch iBook: Portland’s Japantown Revealed. Free at iTunes.
It’s a collection of historic documents, photographs and interviews that tell the story of Portland’s “Nihonmachi” (Japantown) - a once vibrant community that disappeared with the forced removal and incarceration of its citizens. It’s the fourth title in my Homefront USA series of iBooks. 

It’s filled with over a hundred archival photographs and dozens of video interviews with former Japantown residents selected from the collection of the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center. The book details life from the 1890s until the eve of WWII when it had grown to a bustling neighborhood with over 100 businesses. Located within a twelve block area in an area north of Burnside St and west of the Willamette River, it was a home to scores Japanese American families and a regional destination for others who wanted to buy traditional food, receive dental and medical care, find legal assistance, and take care of their banking needs.

One exciting feature of the iBook are interactive “Portland Revealed” widgets that allow the reader to blend historic and contemporary photographs. I created them by seeking out locations of historic photographs where the architecture had been preserved and re-photographing the contemporary setting. The resulting overlay lets the user “paint” the historic figures into modern settings.

ONLC 01856 Morimoto Kawamoto truck

“ … we just didn’t know what was going to happen to us. Were they going to shoot us, or are they going to send us all to Japan, and we can’t even speak Japanese properly.”

The book details the Japanese American reaction to the attack on Pearl Harbor and the uncertainty that swept through Nihonmachi. A Japanese American woman who was nineteen at time recalls “Well, they won’t take us, we’re citizens … “we’re citizens,” that’s all we kept saying, “they wouldn’t take us.” A  man looks back and recalls thinking “ … we just didn’t know what was going to happen to us. Were they going to shoot us, or are they going to send us all to Japan, and we can’t even speak Japanese properly.”

To give the reader historic context for the temper of the times, the book includes pamphlets, posters and movie clips that exemplify the anti-Japanese rhetoric of the era. Portland’s Japantown residents retell the story of the sudden arrests and disappearance of community leaders in the days following Pearl Harbor.

By February of 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 cleared the way for the forced removal and incarceration of Portland’s Nihonmachi.

Japanese-American child who will go with his parents to Owens Valley

Once the exclusion orders were issued, Portland’s Japanese Americans had only a few days to get their business affairs in order before having to report to the Portland Assembly Center. Many were barred by the Alien Land Laws, from owning property, thus their businesses investments were in fixtures and inventory. Limited to only a suitcase of personal possessions, many had to leave everything behind or liquidate possession or properties in quick sales for only pennies on the dollar. Within days Nihonmachi’s residents were stripped of their civil rights, freedom and financial equity.

Their first stop was the Portland Assembly Center operated in the summer of 1942. It was one of the many temporary incarceration centers built in large population centers on the west coast until more permanent centers could be built further inland. The Portland Assembly Center was really the Pacific International Livestock Exposition Pavilion. Plywood construction and rough partitions could not cloak the smell of manure, or deter the swarms of black flies.

Page from Portland’s Japantown RevealedFor four months, over 3,500 evacuees made do in this roughshod temporary housing with minimal plumbing and little privacy. No information was given on how long they would be at the assembly center or where they would go next. See interviews with people incarcerated at that center and contrast them with the cheerful photographs circulated to the US public. Most of Portland’s Nihonmachi was eventually moved from the Portland Assembly Center to more permanent incarceration at the Minidoka War Relocation Center.

But after the war … the Japanese town was not there… I don’t think there was that central feeling of Japantown. ~ Former resident

Released from incarceration in 1945, Portland’s Japanese community faced tough decisions about where to “restart” their lives. Most had lost their livelihoods, homes and possessions in the wartime roundup. Released from incarceration in 1945, Portland’s Japanese community faced tough decisions about where to “restart” their lives. Most had lost their livelihoods, homes and possessions in the wartime roundup.

In the post-war years, some Japanese American businesses were re-established in what had been Portland’s Japantown. Nonetheless, the vitality of a neighborhood that once was a vibrant Nihonmachi never fully recovered from the US government’s forced removal and incarceration of its Japanese American residents during the war years.

Unless otherwise noted images from the Nikkei Legacy Center.
Young girl detainee by Russell Lee. 
U.S. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information.

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