Ippan Shadan Hojin DSIA

The Durable Social Innovation Alliance (DSIA) stimulates sustainable Japanese-style social innovations through entre- and intra-preneurial activities, which are enhanced by alliances among diverse partners including companies, governments and NPOs. DSIA's goal is to create new social values and knowledge, but still path-dependently based on Japanese traditional and corporate culture, technology, socio-economic behavior and past experiences. The DSIA contributes to developing human resources who will tackle social issues, as "opportunities of changes" (Drucker), with a strong mind of social innovation and entrepreneurship. By doing so, we hope to re-generate and re-activ...
Jan 20, 2015

Struggling to Find Solutions amid Busy Schedules

A fun place for children and mothers
A fun place for children and mothers

Kirarin Kids (KK), as usual, works very hard and innovatively.  KK has been doing very well in offering many programs and attracting local mothers and children, as I have reported previously, They continue to have seven major programs: (1) Kirarin Kids; (2) Kirarin Egg and Baby; (3) Kirarin Mama; (4) Kirarin Papa; (5) Kirarin Café; (6) Kirarin Miniature Farming; and (7) Kirarin Refresh. Besides, KK also provides highly valuable additional services, such as the Children’s Health Saloon in cooperation with the Hands, Play Cars brought by the UNICEF and the Toy Maker Association, cooking lectures, traditional food cooking, etc. Now, they decided to offer more programs on No Body’s Perfect, lectures on children’s nourishment, counselling on life with a small fee charged, a puppet show, a party with Santa Clause, Christmas gardening, etc. Especially notable is their increase of  (4) Kirarin Papa sessions, offering lessons how fathers can read books for children, father (grandfather)-children brown-noodle making, and showing a movie titled “Jin Jin.” One Sunday a month, they will have a key and big event for improving father-children relations. Now, their schedule tables are filled much more than before. Because of such activities, their clients are increasing. Especially, mothers and children who just moved to Rikuzen Takata are finding KK a valuable place for them to enter into the community. There were also some signs of newly coming foreign workers, but they found their-affiliated religious organizations more comfortable to belong.

With regard to a KK’s future location after the present temporary government-provided facility is dismantled, nothing has been yet settled. But a Tokyo-based NPO is offering opportunities to develop some kind of future tie-ups with organizations showing an interest in building a children’s facility in Rikuzen Takata, while the City Government also seems to be developing some programs to improve the image of the city by providing more children support. However, nothing is certain. Especially, nobody knows how the latter programs will be, until an election of a Mayor will be completed the next month.

KK’s active and innovative approach toward all types of problems and uncertainties seems to be generating some potential solutions, while nothing is certain at this moment. Since competition among childcare NPOs in Rikuzen Takata is becoming severe, there is also a possibility that nothing may work out at the end. 

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Oct 21, 2014

Where Are We Moving 2.5 Years Later?

Noisy children at play
Noisy children at play

Worries and struggles for a childcare NPO, “Kirarin Kids (KK),” in Rikuzentakata City continue. But it seems that a time bomb started ticking, simply because they have only 2.5 more years to remain at the present location. They are under pressure to look for a new location despite their remarkable success these days.

They have been doing very well in offering many programs and attracting local mothers and children well, as I have reported previously, They now have seven major programs: (1) Kirarin Kids; (2) Kirarin Egg and Baby; (3) Kirarin Mama; (4) Kirarin Papa; (5) Kirarin Café; (6) Kirarin Miniature Farming; and (7) Kirarin Refresh. Besides, KK also provides highly valuable additional services, such as the Children’s Health Saloon in cooperation with the Hands, Play Cars brought by the UNICEF and the Toy Maker Association, a Children’s Summer Festival in cooperation with the Happy Mothers Committee of Sizuoka Prefecture, Mandara picture creation, health and cooking lectures, traditional food cooking, grief care counseling, a parents-children picnic, personal computer classes, etc. Programs became much more diverse, and outside organizations now offer more help than before. An especially significant achievement for the KK is to organize meetings with the Mayer of the City. Now, they had the second meeting to discuss diverse issues needed to empower mothers in the City. The Mayor is very eager to hear their voices, and the KK is now becoming one of the key organizations for women’s empowerment. KK is also functioning to bring childrearing lessons, called “Nobody Is Perfect,” which was originated in Canada and is brought to the KK in cooperation with the Niiza Childcare Network. Mothers have been quite happy with these programs, and reputations spread now even to mothers who came from outside of the city. The KK is now becoming a mediator of linking new comers to the city and local communities. It is very much a new function that the KK is adding. They are making significant contributions to ease the worries of new comers linking them to local communities. In this sense, small toddlers are becoming key actors to link everybody together in the community.

KK has been working very hard, and is obtaining recognitions for their contributions to childcare and the community. But since they have to move out of the present place, they started worrying about diverse issues. Are they going to establish their own facility by purchasing a piece of land and building a building? Naturally, they do not have enough money at all. Before such a bold attempt, it is quite important to know whether child population will start increasing in the near future. So far, it is reported that 10 percent of the population has moved out. Another possibility is to move into a large shopping complex, where children gather. This situation allows them to attract their clients. But then, they may lose their basic philosophy of nurturing good mother-children relations and creating a base for contributing to community developments, which KK has been achieving fairly well so far in the present independent location. Another possibility with the lowest cost is to move into a community center by borrowing a public space. But this option makes it rather difficult to organize programs continuously as they do now. Another option is to collaborate with other key organizations, trying to contribute to community developments. If this is the option which KK wants, it has to start discussing diverse issues with them now. What are they going to do with a piece of land and a building? Are they willing to jointly organize a project? How can they secure necessary funds to satisfy their needs? Will this option work for them financially? When can they start discussing with whom, if this is the option? So far, nobody has made any significant initiative. Preparing for a new stage of post-disaster ordinary operation, they are facing diverse restrictions and limitations in their options. They now start worrying and struggling without much action, while a time bomb started ticking.   

Mothers are busy playing with children.
Mothers are busy playing with children.

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Oct 21, 2014

Ups and Downs, But Highly Appreciative of Help

Past young bike-freaks gathered to help Isatomae
Past young bike-freaks gathered to help Isatomae

People at the Isatomae Redevelopment Archade (Fukko Shotengai, FS) still feel a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. They are working on diverse issues to rebuild their community. So far, they started seeing a small portion of land raised to half a level of the original plan, where the FS shops will move temporarily while the land level of the shop’s permanent location will be raised. Shops will move to the half-raised temporary place in 2015, precisely when not yet known. It was surprising for them, since the temporary place will be below the land level of main road and the permanent shop place when the rest of the land is raised to the level originally planned. But at least, the plan is advancing relative to the past. It was a good news.

Then another surprise came. The government passed a law that the present government-funded temporary shops have to be continuously used for the next five years. This law generated two serious concerns. One is that the present shops have to be closed and moved to the temporary location, meaning that they have to stop operating their business completely for two months. This law was passed, assuming that shops are moving from a present temporary location to a permanent one. The Isatomae’s situation is to move from the present temporary location to another temporary one and then finally to a permanent place. Does this mean that they have to move present temporary shops and facilities twice? Concern is that moving old shop buildings is as expensive as building new ones. They are now negotiating with the government whether they can build new shops in the permanent place while they use old shop materials in a newly moving temporary place. If moving old shops costs the same or more than building new ones, then it is better to build new ones. But does the law allow this to happen since all of two moves will take place within five years? Amid their worries, one good story is that they are going to use the temporary shop-tent which was built by donations from the Refugee International Japan, the Japan Forest Biomas Network, and the GlobalGiving mediated through the DSIA.  They may have to operate their business in the tent for two months when old shops will be dismantled and rebuild in the temporary place and to store their equipment and facilities for quite a long time. The FS is highly appreciative of the existence of the tent, which helps to make their transition much smoother.  This means that, thanks to your kind heart, understanding and donation, we are still helping them to rebuild their community.

The other problem could be much tougher than the first one. It could become quite a demotivating factor for people in the FS since they have been working to build their new shops with dream for almost two years. The FS very much decided to establish an Isatomae Redevelopment Company which will own new buildings and charge rents to tenants, rather than to establish an association. A company form enables the FS to borrow money from banks and even allow outside tenants to come in when vacancies in shops occur. This makes the company operation securer. However, despite their two-year discussions, the Minami-sanriku Township suddenly informed them that it will establish a company and provide them a building. The plan was informed suddenly as a surprise. Now, they have to engage in negotiation all over again despite a well-thought plan by the FS. This could be quite a tough negotiation and be demotivating.

Separate from these problems, the FS is organizing many events as usual. On October 20, they have a group of past young bike-freaks to bring in about 100 unusually decorated cars (see pictures). They wanted to show their willingness to contribute to society. The FS is also planning to have an exhibition of their soccer team flags in the Sendai Stadium when a soccer game will be held there, hoping to find willing partners to contribute to the FS. They are working very hard to get events organized and planned, so that they can bring in customers to the FS. But even on this point, they worry that the lack of clear planning when they can move to the temporary as well as the permanent places makes it quite difficult to plan and organize events, which are a very important source of bringing in customers.

When they start seeing the raised temporary place to move in, it gave them a sense that they start seeing a small light at the end of a long and dark tunnel, moving one step closer to their dream. But then, new problems, one of which may even make their two-year efforts meaningless, arose. They are engaging in negotiations, very much hoping that they can follow their original plan. Given this uncertainty now three years after the disaster, they look much more tired than before. But they are extremely appreciative of the tent-shop, established with the help of the DSIA, the GlobalGiving, the Refugee International Japan, and the Japan Forest Biomas Network. 

Past young bike-freaks to help Isatomae
Past young bike-freaks to help Isatomae
Donated tent to be used again by Isatomae shops
Donated tent to be used again by Isatomae shops

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