Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kara Kondo Interview
Narrator: Kara Kondo
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Gail Nomura (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 7 & 8, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-kkara-01-0048

<Begin Segment 48>

AI: I was wondering, during the 1960s, at that time, you were also involved with the League of Women Voters?

KK: I have been since the '50s, middle '50s.

AI: And I was wondering what kind of public forums there might have been or discussions during that decade because so much was going on in the rest of the country with civil rights issues and then later the anti-Vietnam War activities.

KK: These League of Women Voters focuses on issues that are, that are suggested by the membership on national issues, on state issues, and on local issues. That's the local government issues. And they are, they have ranged from civil rights and environmental issues, as well as educational issues of administration of justice issues, housing issues, and, and we have a whole range of our positions and, and civil rights was among them. But, and, and each League or each state leagues face the local problems affecting that area or their state and would act in compliance with their position. And civil rights was always underlying in my interest, but my interests became more into environmental issues. And I was sent by the state league to a water conference, a regional water conference, western water conference, in Salt Lake City with expenses paid. And about two or three days there I came back with eleven pounds of paper. And that's something like all organizations with pounds of paper.

But I became very interested in water. I still am involved in water, water to this day. But also became interested with the issue of land use which affects ground, with water. And I served on, I was elected to, to the regional planning commission of a region that is urban, a region around Yakima. And I was on that for about from '76 to '99 and served on various water committees. On drinking water state committee, advisory committee, for about ten years and then served on various water issues, committees statewide and local and regional. It's continuing. I'm still on a, on, on water issues. I'm sure I'm... I still will be until I say, "No more." [Laughs]

Prior to coming here, I was trying to get ready for this meeting and, and I was faced with a fifty-five page commentary that they wanted some comments on and spent the whole afternoon at a meeting on, on watershed planning. And we're getting to our stage, last stages of, of adopting the plan. And so these are the kinds of things that I have been involved in. Not that I'm, I'm not an expert, certainly not an expert. But I do represent a, a large percentage of people who know nothing about what's going on in water (issues), which will be continuing throughout my lifetime and throughout other people's lifetime.

AI: Well, from the beginning of your involvement in some of these water issues, what do you think have been the main trends in the policymaking and some of the change, perhaps, that you've seen over this long period of time?

KK: Well, I think we have become very bureaucratic, regardless of what governments -- local governments or state government or national governments -- and it isn't money that drives outcomes. I'm sad to say that the availability of money has driven energy policies of salmon recovery, of endangered species, and sometimes it's rather distressing to see. But underneath it all, I feel that we should establish a firm policy on water. And depending on various locations. But when there's money available for, for specified or special needs, then we become sidetracked for availability of grants and money for endangered species recovery, or whether it's for development of land and the use of land and of shorelines and water in general, of drinking water... as far as water is concerned, you can go on forever.

But it's the same with the civil rights movements or other health issues right now. And, but I believe that it is involvement of the people, the people have final say. And we've turned off about government, and we'd like to just go on our own way and hoping that somebody's going to take care of problems. And, and we can't do that. I think that we should establish our interest and follow it and, wherever there's possible for you to speak up because you know something that generally has not been brought up, it should be voiced. And perhaps this is my way. I couldn't say that for everyone, but it's my feeling, and that's what has kept me involved for so long. And you see different people. And because you think, "Oh well, she'll do it." And so you get from one issue to the other. [Laughs] I don't have that much time for myself, I find out. [Laughs]

AI: Well, excuse me, but continuing on with the water issue, I was just wondering, now, after all your work in this, in this area, what, what are some of the things you would hope to see happen with the water?

KK: You mean in water?

AI: Yes.

KK: I think it's, so much depends on your location. I come from a irrigated agricultural area where availability of, sure supply of water for irrigation is paramount, and that is the loud voice. But underneath it all, the public, if you were to, to influence it, need to know that your drinking water, or your domestic water, need to be secure. And, and sometimes we feel that water will be there, and that it will be potable, or it will be safe drinking water. And you can't be assured of that unless people who use it -- and we all do, it's like air -- see that the voice is heard. Otherwise, you'll have other competing uses who will want to develop more land for housing or business or whatever. That takes as much water as, as an irrigated agriculture, for instance. So they, they relate to each other, and they relate to you personally. So I can't say that we should have a, established policies that affect everybody, but it's, and it's changing. So... and it's like any issue. Like our medical right now. We're concerned about prescription drugs and the costs... and the cost of medical information, as well as the assistance. And... that most of us know very little about. But what is really, will depend on a national policy, as well as the state and local ones. And we can go on forever about some other issues as well as civil rights, right? [Laughs]

GN: Or redress.

<End Segment 48> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.