The VAF made its inaugural Award for Advocacy at the recent Fresno Conference. The award was presented to Donna Graves and Jill Shiraki on behalf of the Preserving California’s Japantowns project.
Preserving California’s Japantowns is the first statewide effort to identify, research and document historic resources located in Japantowns throughout California. The project embodies all the qualities the Award for Advocacy was created to recognize. The Advocacy Committee was especially impressed by how the project has fulfilled the award criterion to "advance preservation and awareness of vernacular buildings and landscapes through education, publications, media, technology, and/or public outreach." The effort was consciously designed not only to document resources associated with California's Japantowns but also to lay the groundwork for stewardship, preservation and interpretation of these sites, whose histories have been hidden due to the violent disruption of WWII incarceration of all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast.