In the quaint business community of North Park is an old building that has seen better days. It is a ceramics studio where the public comes to delight in throwing clay into creative containers. San Diego Ceramic Connections is owned and operated by master Japanese Potter Kouta Shimazaki, who has been committed to teaching classes to adults and children in San Diego County since 1997. Kouta has been an integral part of serving the T32 (Thorn and 32nd Streets) business community.
This humble artist found a way to give back to his community by giving birth to a chili cook off for the neighborhood residents. What started as an annual neighborhood chili gathering grew into a huge festival, now called the “SONO FEST & Chili Cook Off” to support the local McKinley Elementary School. Now over ten years later, over 60 vendors and restaurants sell their wares and gather to compete for the best chili in a variety of categories.
One month prior to the cook off, the students from his classes and neighbors come together and volunteer to throw as many pots as is humanly possible. This year over 2000 bowls were created to be sold and used to contain these tasty chilis for the competition. The pounds of clay, jars of glaze and operation of kilns are all donated by Kouta to support the festival.
Kouta is involved in teaching ceramics at McKinley Elementary School to children who reside in South Park and North Park. Thus, the name SONO. When the P.T.A. offered to help with the event, they became an integral part of its success.
The building where SDCC resides is the historic Hahn building which was built in the late 1920’s. Over the years this structure has deteriorated whereby Kouta has been unable to keep up with all of its maintenance, which is why we are asking the public for donations, in any amount, to begin repairs on the front and sides of the building. Because Kouta has been so generous in giving to his community and school, we feel it is only right to ‘give back’ to him in this way.
We would love to get your donations as soon as possible to start and complete the work before this year’s 2019 SONO FEST on December 1st. “It takes a village”.
UPDATE: The building is done being painted, but we are short $400 in donations to pay for the labor. Please help if you can, were almost at the finish line! We can't thank everyone enough who has helped along the way in this endeavor. It has brightened up the T-32 business area and Kouta's business will be better for it. It is a wonderful gift for the area!