Fending off compassion fatigue: Community events keep Seattle helping Japan

Musicians, local art, and top Seattle chefs star in upcoming benefit events, making Seattle proud. Also, experts discuss the Fukushima nuclear disaster and implications for Washington.

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Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force personnel and disaster relief crews searching Sukuiso, Japan

Musicians, local art, and top Seattle chefs star in upcoming benefit events, making Seattle proud. Also, experts discuss the Fukushima nuclear disaster and implications for Washington.

The famous generosity of Americans continues to be challenged. Hearing about the devastation wrought by tornadoes in the South makes it harder to respond to recovery needs abroad that no longer make the headlines — for example, in Haiti and Japan. A whole world of suffering can stretch compassion thin.

A couple of strategies keep me from compassion fatigue. For years, I've set aside the same small percentage of my monthly income to divide into gifts for organizations on my own revolving, evolving personal list. No need to wonder whether this month's donation is affordable (it’s already in the budget), and no overwhelming helplessness to make me curl up in a fetal position. I can't change the world, but I can do my bit.

Another strategy is attending a local benefit event or two. As an introverted writer generally glued to a chair at a desk, I sometimes need a healthy push to get myself out of the house for sociable recreation. An appealing event won't always do the trick, but the balance can sometimes be tipped by a diversion that doubles as a chance to help meet a need, or to find out more about the situation that sparked it.

Such chances abound in Seattle, where we like getting together for the benefit of people here and elsewhere. The number and variety of upcoming events rooted in a commitment to help Japan over the long term and keep informed about the disaster's effects make me proud of my city: 

Saturday, April 30, 4-6 p.m.  Concert at Bryant Elementary School sponsored by students and parents, featuring the Bryant taiko drumming group, Bryant’s choir and hand bell group, and a traditional dance troupe. Free admission; donations accepted on behalf of Peace Winds. Bryant Elementary, 3311 Northeast 60th Street. Further info: Sam McCracken, sammccracken1@comcast.net or 206-524-0083.

Sunday, May 1, 3 p.m.  Players from Seattle Symphony and other professional musicians in the region will play Songs of Hope in a benefit concert of Japanese folk songs, Koto Ensemble, and great classical music selections. Free admission; donations accepted. Daniels Recital Hall, 811 5th Ave. at Marion.

Thursday, May 5, 5 p.m.*or* 6:30 p.m. Seattle's top sushi masters have formed the Sushi Chef Dream Team to prepare a feast for an evening that will be emceed by King 5 TV's Andrea Nakano and accompanied by music. Event attire: Cocktail wear. Bell Harbor International Conference Center, Pier 66, 2211 Alaskan Way. Tickets in advance only: $200 for *5 p.m. early entry; $175 for *6:30 general admission. Last day to purchase tickets: Tuesday, May 3. All proceeds go to Peace Winds. Further info: sushichefdreamteam@gmail.com

Wednesday, May 11, 7-8:30 p.m.  A free public forum, “Blowing Our Way: Effects of Fukushima on Washington State,” will present a panel of leaders in the fields of toxicology, nuclear plant oversight, and children’s health. They will give updates on the health effects of radiation and the impact on Washington state, the status of problems with the reactor in Fukushima, Japan, “hot spots” in Washington, and what citizens need to know that media may not fully cover. Sponsored by Washington's Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and the Institute of Neurotoxicology & Neurological Disorders. Children’s Hospital, Room G1026, 4800 Sand Point Way NE. Further info: Tracy Bier, atbier@msn.com, 206-322-8613 or cherie@wpsr.org, 206-547-2630.

Friday, May 13, 6 p.m.  Seattle Artists Rally for Japan Relief at Seattle’s Club Motor for a Rock Relief Benefit Concert featuring Pretty Enemy, Unhailoed, and special guests, plus an auction of lunch or dinner shared with the top bidder's favorite local artist. Tickets: $10. Seattle vocalist Barbara Ireland is also offering an exclusive free download of a ballad she wrote and recorded in response to the recent disasters, “Keep Breathing, Japan,” in exchange for donations to SeattleJapanRelief, a community partnership that routes contributions to three major nonprofits currently providing assistance in Japan. Directions to Club Motor, 1950 1st Ave S.

Saturday, May 14, 6-9 p.m.  Japan Relief Event during the Second Saturday Art Walk in Ballard. Local art, live music, tapas, and wine, all for contributions accepted at the door of Root Health Ballard. Proceeds will be sent to Direct Relief International for assistance to Japan. In the old Ballard Carnegie Library, 2026 NW Market St., 206-679-8026.

Saturday, May 21, 7 p.m.  Kaze Daiko, a Japanese-American youth taiko drumming group, will perform in a fundraiser at ACT (A Contemporary Theatre), 700 Union St. Further info: kazedaiko@hotmail.com.

Don't forget that you can also donate on any day, at any hour. The Mobile Giving Foundation, as local as the cell phone in your pocket, lets you send text-message donations that are billed directly to your account. The foundation sends 100 per cent of every gift to the recipient charity; your particular carrier may add its own standard fees:

Text “JAPAN” or “TSUNAMI” to 20222 to donate $10 to Save the Children Federation.
Text “4JAPAN” or “4TSUNAMI” to 20222 to donate $10 to World Vision.
Text “MERCY” to 25383 to donate $10 to Mercy Corps.

If you’re torn between helping Japan, speeding the painfully slow recovery in Haiti, and relieving the suffering in areas of the U.S. that have been leveled by recent storms or damaged by a major oil spill, you can choose among various options at the American Red Cross website or let the Red Cross direct your donation to where it's most needed.


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