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Documentary on Richmond flower growing families to debut on Saturday

By Chris Treadway
Friday, July 13th, 2012 at 11:39 am in Contra Costa County.

The flower-growing trade built by Japanese immigrants in Richmond and El Cerrito early in the 20th century survived and even thrived despite an often-hostile environment.

Challenges during more than a century of operation included formation of the Anti-Japanese League of Alameda County in 1913 to the Great Depression to forced removal of Japanese-American families during World War II to freeway construction that claimed swaths of nursery property.

The last of the standing greenhouses that were once common near San Pablo Avenue have been cleared for a new housing development in Richmond, but the story of the flower-growing families is captured in a new documentary that has its public debut July 14 in Richmond.

“Blossoms and Thorns: A Community Uprooted” will be presented at screenings at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. at the new Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park Visitor Education Center at 1414 Harbor Way South.

The afternoon will include a 2 p.m. panel discussion with filmmaker Ken Kokka, cultural historian Donna Graves and members of several nursery families. Journalist George T. Kiriyama will be the moderator.

The showing is sponsored by Contra Costa Japanese American Citizens League, the Rosie the Riveter park and the Rosie the Riveter Trust, and the city’s Arts and Culture Commission.

For more details, call 510-232-3108.

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