New SGI Center Opens in Oregon, USA
Two celebrations called "Opening a New Chapter of SGI-USA Oregon" were held on April 2 and 3 to commemorate the opening of the new SGI-USA Oregon Center in the city of Lake Oswego. More than 800 members traveled from throughout Oregon to join in the festivities, which SGI-USA General Director Danny Nagashima attended.
To mark the occasion, Oregon Governor John A. Kitzhaber issued a proclamation declaring April 2, 2011, "SGI Successor Day," as well as commending SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's sustained efforts to promote a culture of peace among ordinary citizens.
The proclamation read, "Oregonians join to recognize SGI for its quest to create a just and peaceful world . . . by teaching future generations of youth to dedicate their lives to building a better world for all humankind."
During opening remarks, SGI-USA Oregon Region Men's Leader Yoshi Koguchi presented a US flag that had been flown over the nation's Capitol in honor of the new center, at the request of US Senator Ron Wyden.
The location for the new center is flanked by towering Douglas fir trees, emblematic of the Pacific Northwest. The renovated facility includes two rooms for prayer services and meetings, several conference rooms, a bookstore and two youth activity rooms.
For weeks leading up to the opening, dozens of members fashioned origami cranes, each symbolizing an SGI member in Oregon. The cranes were displayed across a mural of Mt. Hood that adorned the center's windows.
At the event, newly appointed youth leaders shared their resolve to further advance world peace in Oregon. Several of the pioneering members in Oregon spoke about the early history of SGI-USA in the state. Other members shared their recent breakthroughs based on their daily practice and study of Buddhism. The audience enjoyed performances by the Ikeda Youth Ensemble, taiko drummers, hip-hop dancers, traditional Japanese dancers and the SGI chorus group from Eugene, Oregon.
On April 3, Mr. Nagashima and SGI-USA leader Cliff Sawyer held a question and answer session with some 80 youth. In his remarks, Mr. Nagashima spoke about the importance of a spirit of appreciation for the efforts of pioneer SGI members in Oregon.
The celebrations concluded with commemorative photos, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and the planting of a cherry tree.
[Adapted from an article in the April 29, 2011, issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA; photos courtesy of Elliot De Picciotto]