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Street Talk

Mississippians Feel Pain Of Japanese

By Mickey Howley

This week’s column touches on three separate situations that, at first glance, seem to be unrelated to each other.  But, they are related in the greater context of what it is like to live in tight and inter-dependent communities.

This coming Saturday night downtown on Main Street the Water Valley Arts Council is throwing a “Come As you Aren’t” costume party and dance.  It is the annual fundraiser for the WVAC and funds raised will go towards this year’s Summer Art Camp for Kids.  There will be prizes for the best costumes, an art raffle, and some get down music. Last year’s fundraiser was the “Chair-ity Art Auction,” an event that won a Mississippi Main Street statewide award for “Most Creative Fundraiser.”

The dance party on Saturday promises to be a fun night for a good cause.  See the ad in this edition of the newspaper for the details, and come out in support.

The March/April edition of Mississippi Farm Country magazine has a four page article on  Fiddlin’ Rooster Farm located just outside of Water Valley on Highway 32 East. The Fiddlin’ Rooster, owned by Rhonda and Doug Webb, is not your average farm: it specializes in agritourism. You might wonder, what is agritourism? It is any event that brings people to a farm or a ranch.  It can be a trip to buy produce directly from a farm, an overnight stay in a farm-based bed and breakfast, or even a dude ranch. In other parts of the world it often is linked with eco-tourism or geo-tourism.  

Rhonda and Doug specialize in education. Their mission is to let kids know what it is like to live and work on a farm.  And kids come in the thousands to the their place and they leave with an insight into how farms work and maybe they have some fun running the corn maze, too.

Rhonda and Doug not only bring people to the Water Valley area, they have helped Main Street, too. They played music at the Farmers Market and brought their “Cow Train” to the downtown festivals.  The article focusing on Fiddlin’ Rooster in the magazine is a great way to tell the state there are good things going on in Yalobusha County.

If you have been following the earthquake and tsunami news of the last few days, perhaps you have been struck, like I have been, of the similarities between the damage in Japan and the damage on the Mississippi Gulf Coast from Katrina. Images of water logged debris fields, of striped bare house foundations, of a denuded and violated landscape seem all too fresh and too near.  We know once the water recedes and the debris is cleared and the press goes away, the daily struggle in these small Japanese towns will go on for years.  Just ask anyone from Pearlington or Waveland or Pass Christian; they will tell you.  And for the many Mississippians not on the coast, but who went to clean and clear and help, you remember what you saw and how people coped with such devastating losses.

The Japanese will get through this. They are organized, hard working, smart and tough.  Generations ago they were our fiercest enemies, now they are, especially in this state, our best friends.  Those of us in this region know their pain.  So keep in mind the folks in those small Japanese towns, their struggle to re-build is just beginning.

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