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Heart Mountain gets green light to start working on new building that they hope can bridge divisiveness

group of people circle around man in middle. Side of brick building to left and mountains far in the distance.
Photo courtesy of Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation.
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Sam Mihara leading a group of educators during a previous workshop.

The Heart Mountain Interpretive Center finally has the green light to start working on its new building. Organizers are hoping the Mineta-Simpson Institute will be more than just a building.

Former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta and Wyoming Rep. Al Simpson met as boy scouts. The former was incarcerated with thousands of other Japanese-Americans and the latter spent his childhood in Cody. Their lifelong friendship is what the new facility hopes to embody, said Aura Sunada-Newlin, the interim executive director of the Heart Mountain Foundation.

“We see this as a way forward to find a way to get along across differences,” said Sunada-Newlin. “And not just get along but to come up with solutions to our society's problems, while also coming to love and cherish people across those differences in the model of Norm and Al.”

Sunada-Newlin said they will try to achieve this by providing a gathering place for people all over the country who are concerned about the divisiveness in society and who are in search of a healthy path forward.

“So they will be drawn by this theme of civil discourse and civic dialogue,” she said. “And we want them to come here and experience the power of the place that we offer and learn about our Japanese American history while they are at it.”

The center will also build a digital production studio so those unable to come to northwestern Wyoming can participate as well. They hope to break ground this year and open the facility at the end of the year 2023.

In addition to reporting daily on the happenings in Northwest Wyoming, Kamila is also the producer of the Kids Ask WhY Podcast and the History Unloaded Podcast.Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.
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