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...
Apr 21, 2014

Moving Forward into A New Stage

Shop Tent Used as a Storage
Shop Tent Used as a Storage

When I met Mr. Yoshinobu Yamauchi, the President of the Temporary Tent Shop and the Vice President of the Isatomae Fukko Shotengai (Isatomae Redevelopment Arcade) in Isatomae, Minami-Sanrikucho this time, he looked more hopeful than ever before. It is because the Isatomae Chamber of Commerce (ICC) started discussing about the construction and operation of a new shopping arcade to be built on a raised land.

He was informed that elevating the height of a piece of land, where all shops will temporarily move in, will start around September 2014 and that the present shop arcade will move there, may be, around April 2015. Since temporary shops will be smaller than the present one, they will reuse the shop tent, which the Refugee International Japan in cooperation with the DSIA donated, for storing many equipment and commodities. (As an attached picture shows, it is presently used by a company which owns the land there as a storage.) Then, finally, around April 2016 a new shop arcade will be ready on the raised land of where they are presently operating.

Now, they started discussing whether they will establish a cooperative or a company for operating the new arcade. Given complexities involved in establishing a cooperative, they seem to be in favor of establishing a company, which may be easier to borrow money from banks for building the arcade. They are also talking about the size of investment each shop needs to make and the amount of subsidies the government provides, and even started contacting diverse organizations to find out whether they are interested in borrowing office space. The owners of the new arcade will be the members of the Isatomae Chamber of Commerce, but in order to generate revenue for the operating company, they are also talking to medical doctors, dentists, and other organizations to see if they are interested in borrowing office space. Since they are informed to establish a company by February 2015 and start hiring one staff to operate it, they are now contacting people to figure out the size of an arcade to accommodate diverse needs. In a sense, for the first time after many months of discussions about their plan, they started shifting to the phase of concretizing the shopping arcade, though they may face frequent ups and downs until they can finally move into a newly established arcade. We need to continuously and psychologically support them to go through another phase of challenges.

Donations made through the GlobalGiving have been helping the Istomae Fukko Shotengai to sustain the shop tent and organize diverse events. One of attached pictures show a remnant of an event they organized to commemorate their post box drifting to Okinawa via possibly Hawaii Islands, while they are preparing for the White Fish Festival as shown in their homepage and also used clothes sales in front of the Athlete Yamauchi during this weekend as shown in an picture.

They are now planning to have a big event on June 15, 2014, when Japan will have a soccer match against the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, the first Japanese match in the World Soccer Game 2014. They will install three big-screen televisions, and watch the game. They already have about fifty flags of Japanese soccer teams as shown in an attached picture, and will have the visits of J-League soccer players, a cheer band, and cheer leaders. They will also sell food so that visitors can barbecue local food there. But for the first time, I learned that they can organize such event, since they have been developing relations with Japanese soccer teams, even going back twenty five years ago. They provided a training ground to Japanese soccer teams, especially to Kashima Antlers. Mr. Yamauchi has been a key member developing such relations. For the redevelopment of Isatomae community, they are making full use of good connections they have been developing for many years. And the DSIA, taking a long-term perspective, also hopes to be a good supporting organization to them, especially by mediating the goodwill of GlobalGiving donors.

Flags Donated from Japanese Soccer Leagues
Flags Donated from Japanese Soccer Leagues
Remnant of Event Commemorating Post Box Return
Remnant of Event Commemorating Post Box Return
Used Clothes Sales
Used Clothes Sales

Links:

Jan 23, 2014

Struggling Hard to Attract Visitors from Outside

the Goddess of Mercy by Bamboo Light Up
the Goddess of Mercy by Bamboo Light Up

One key question I ask when I visit Isatomae, Minami-sanrikucho, every three months is whether a plan for reconstruction has been finalized. According to the Isatomae Shoko Kai (Isatomae Chamber of Commerce = ICC), it seems that the plan is very much finalized, but what I heard this time was also a little bit different from the previous plan I heard three months ago. The height of the dike will be 8.70 meters high, which was the same as before, while the height of raised land for shops changed from 5 meters to 7 meters, which enables residents to see the ocean with footsteps. They are hoping to see the completion of land raising by the end of 2015, but they sounded quite uncertain. Whenever I ask a question, “When will the construction of shops be completed?” They just cannot tell even when the land raising will be completed, needless to say about the completion of their shopping complex. They were very lively to tell about their shopping- complex plan, but when I ask about the completion date, their faces looked dark, showing their fatigue and a situation where they still do not see the end of the tunnel. They are quite tired, though they have a lot of issues to be decided. For example, one big issue presently is whether the shopping complex will take a corporate form or an association form. Some residents are even refusing to allow their land raised by the government, and the ICC even has to convince them to go along with a new plan.

One fortunate factor of the Isatomae community is that it has a 260-year-old “Contract Association (Keiyaku Kai)” consisted of about 80 households, and owns a large piece of land in the mountain as commons. Its history is so old that they never thought it to be useful. But a new residential housing complex will be built on this land, making their cost of land acquisition for their houses much cheaper. It is reported that the town purchases 1 m2 of destroyed land for \10,000, while a newly developed land in the mountain will cost about \12,000 to \18,000. Those who are a member of the Contract Association can reduce the cost of land acquisition, though they still have to pay for building houses. Many residents may simply choose renting public apartments instead of building a new house due to financial reasons.

Despite a small population size of 4,500 residents, in the past, ocean views, good ocean food, and country-side living in Isatomae attracted tourists. Now, everything is completely new, not different from big cities, and ocean views are blocked by the dike. Can they succeed to attract visitors? At this moment, with limited resources, they are doing their best to show the attractiveness of Isatomae by planning diverse events. They even added a playground for children. Naturally, since their attractiveness is ocean food, such as urchin, scallop, abalone, octopus, crab, sea weed, etc., they are planning to have festivals at the peak periods of these catches. Ezo scallop raised at Isatomae was offered to the imperial household for celebrating the Coronation of the Showa Emperor in 1928. They are even bringing out such an old historical fact to attract outside visitors.

Such attractiveness is not different from other communities in the Pacific-Ocean coastal area. To differentiate the Isatomae, they are developing their unique activities. Now in January 2014, the ICC borrowed 280 bamboo sticks from the Miike Light Bamboo Festival Committee in Fukuoka Prefecture, and are showing beautiful candle-light art works at night in the Temporary Shopping Arcade (see attached pictures). In the past, they succeeded to receive supports from all professional soccer teams in Japan and obtained their flags. They applied for a Guinness Record as one place having the largest number of soccer team flags. Unfortunately, it was not recognized as a record. Now, in June they are trying to have a public viewing of the World Soccer Game with diverse supports from these Japanese soccer teams. Naturally, they plan to have summer festivals, summer fireworks, and locally particular festival called “Donto Festival” held in diverse places in Miyagi Prefecture.

Despite financial and resource limitations, they are trying to make use of any chance for making the Isatomae Community known to outside. Given a small population of Isatomae, they believe that attracting outside visitors is the only way for them to survive and redevelop their community. Since a small community like Isatomae is rather difficult to obtain supports, they are still in disparate needs of continuous financial supports. Although they are quite tired and still do not see the end of tunnel at all, they are solely relying on their strong motivation and spirit to keep the community alive and going. 

Mr. Fuji by Bamboo Light Up
Mr. Fuji by Bamboo Light Up
Newly Added Playground
Newly Added Playground
Soccer Team Flags of the Temporary Shopping Place
Soccer Team Flags of the Temporary Shopping Place

Links:

Jan 23, 2014

"Kirarin Kids" Preparing for Future Development

Waiting for Children and Mothers to Come 1
Waiting for Children and Mothers to Come 1

Kirarin Kids (KK) is steadily preparing for its future development. The biggest news of the past three months is that they obtained an approval to become an NPO from the Government of Japan on December 26, 2013, for which they have been preparing quite a long time. They had the first preparatory meeting on July 28, 2013, to identify their organization targets as providing a place for parent-children interaction and promoting healthy development of children in a community. These goals are becoming ever more important as the disaster caused the decline of children’s population, destroyed many play-grounds, reduced community activities, and disintegrated community identity. By becoming an NPO they will further concentrate their activities on these goals and try to obtain supports from diverse sources, including Rikuzen Takata City. KK firmly believes in the importance of their work for community development.

They try to achieve the goals through their regular programs: (1) sessions for enhancing children-mother relations, such as Nobody-Perfect lessons, eurhythmic lessons with music, symbolic therapy, counselling by a professional, etc.; (2) excursions; (3) sports activities such as Kirarin yoga, baby massages, Kirarin refreshing exercises, etc.; (4) aroma activities; (5) mobile toy-library; (6) cooking sessions (traditional and healthy food, cookies, etc.); (7) birthday parties; (8) toy making; (9) collecting bell marks; etc.

In collaboration with the Niiza Childcare Network and the UNICEF, they are further developing father-children relations, especially for children whose mothers have been lost in the disaster. In the activities, KK now has a program called “On Sundays,” with a content support provided by an NPO called “Fathering Japan.” The program for father-children relations seems to be working better now than before.

So far, with the support from the GlobalGiving, KK offered two programs: one on IT sessions for mothers and the other on mother-children English play time. For the IT sessions, KK offered lessons once in September, twice in October, once in November and once in December, and completed their schedule for IT sessions. For English play time, they offered once in October and once in December.

Although they have to focus more on their original goals as an NPO, being still in the midst of a redevelopment phase from the disaster, they are still expanding their activities as requests come to them. In December, they held a “Health Festival” with a help from dentists and doctors belonging to the Tokyo West Rotary Club. The Festival not only offered dental sessions and first aid practices, but also events to bring the attention of parents and children to overweighing. Conditions in temporary housing seem to be generating unexpected side effects. Now, almost all school grounds are used as temporary housing sites which took away children’s opportunity for playing. For children living in remote temporary-housing sites, they now commute in a school bus, while in the past they used to walk quite a long distance to school. Thus, KK is now also helping in the field of children’ health care.

The Takata Osumi Shopping Archade where KK is located decided to open markets on 7th, 17th, and 27th every month. As a way to show collaborative sprit to the Shopping Archade community, KK decided to open their operations on these three days. This policy change creates additonal days of work, if markets are held on weekends. It is generating not only financial pressure to KK, but also some resistance from their staff, since they are already overworked. To make the situation worse, two staffs will leave Rikuzen Takata due to their husbands’ transfers to different locations. Now as usual, they have headaches from the shortages of both fund and staff.

They have been highly motivated, working hard, and achieving what they hoped to achieve. But constantly they are facing the same problems, suggesting that they still need supports from the GlobalGiving until they graduate from the phase of redevelopment. 

Checking before Mothers and Children Come
Checking before Mothers and Children Come

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