May 4, 2023
In some ways, Rod Henmi, Director of Design at HKIT Architects and one of the lead designers for Enso Village, felt that he had come full circle when he discovered a family tie to Quaker organizations, connecting him to Enso and its affiliation with the Quaker-rooted Kendal Corporation.
Rod is the son of the late renowned Japanese American architect Richard Henmi. During World War II, Richard and his family were held in a Japanese internment camp. The family was forced to leave their homes, businesses and personal items, and were stripped of their material goods and financial security. During this time, the Quaker organization American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) worked to speak out against the internment camps as human rights violations. Led by its Quaker beliefs and principles, including respect for human life and the urgent need to challenge injustice, the AFSC was dedicated to helping these individuals. One way the AFSC helped release individuals was by connecting and facilitating the admittance of Japanese American students into colleges in the Midwest and East.
Through these efforts of the AFSC, Richard was able to leave the center where he was being held to study architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, the only college to accept Japanese students at the time. It was there that Richard – and many other successful Japanese American architects – would build the foundation for his own storied career.
Rod would later follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue architecture professionally. Today, he is one of the lead designers for Enso Village – the newest Kendal affiliate in Healdsburg, California – that is being built upon the principles of both Kendal’s Quaker roots and the Zen practice. To learn how a Quaker organization helped his family establish its path and to now work to develop a new Quaker-based community adds to the honor Rod feels being a part of Enso Village’s development. Working on this project felt like serendipity between Enso Village’s Quaker and Zen influenced principles of respect for every person, commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and emphasis on integrity and generosity, and the Japanese influence on the aesthetic and architecture of the community’s spaces and buildings.
As part of the Kendal System, Enso Village is rooted in Quaker values of integrity, community and collaboration. For Enso’s lead designer to have such a deep, personal connection to these values speaks to the larger impact of what Kendal aims to achieve.
“At Kendal, we aspire to act with integrity, foster community and build meaningful partnerships,” added Steve Bailey, Senior Vice President of New Business and Development at The Kendal Corporation. “Rod’s family history includes so much beauty as well as injustice, which undoubtedly has shaped Rod’s character. The Kendal family and the team at Enso Village are grateful for Rod’s devotion to values, integrity and quality design, and the Quaker connection is a beautiful closing of the circle.”