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 14, 2013

Exploring Ways to Support Future Developments

Mountain School Office in Shop Tent
Mountain School Office in Shop Tent

In two months, the disaster-stricken Tohoku will be holding the second memorial service of the Higashi Nippon Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster which took place on March 11, 2011. Although many people have found their daily routines and ways of sustaining their lives, situations for many have not really improved. To make the situation worse, supports to them are diminishing day by day, forcing them to face real struggles for survival.

Our shop tent located in the mountain side of Isatomae in Minami-sanriku-cho, Miyagi Prefecture, is presently used only by a mountain school providing nature training to children throughout a year. It is used mostly on weekends. At a glance, it turned into a storage for keeping goods to be sold at the Fukko Temporary Shops down close to the ocean side. In a sense, the tent is still a useful facility to people in Isatomae. Learning about the development of an Isatomae rebuilding plan, I found that a consensus has not yet been well established delaying the start of reconstruction. Besides, I learned that the Fukko Temporary Shops will be moved to a closest place, while the main planned shop area will be elevated, thus reusing the tent as tent shops may not work out. But since it is located right next to a new community to be established in the mountain side, it will be used for community activities and continuously remain important to people in Isatomae. 

Since the population of Isatomae has dropped, shop owners are looking for ways to bring customers from outside of Isatomae. They are trying to reorganize traditional festivals to bring outside Isatomae supporters to take part in festivals. They also happen to receive huge supports from the J League Soccer teams, thus having a large number of Japanese soccer team flags. They are trying to expand this flag collection to international soccer teams, to bring their attention to Isatomae redevelopment. Any kind of your help in expanding this effort is very much appreciated. 

Talking about a new redevelopment plan, I came to recognize that diverse unique ways exist to link between new dikes and the characteristics of Isatomae community and to possibly be used to attract people from outside. I am contacting several friends of mine to see if certain projects can be started, though it is quite premature to disclose new ideas. In a visit, several hours are spend to exchange ideas and search for ways to link to the DSIA network. Thus, the DSIA help is shifting from sustaining the tent to providing ideas and linkages them to people in Tokyo to see if any future-oriented supports can be developed. 

Shop Tent Functioning as a Storage
Shop Tent Functioning as a Storage
J League Soccer Team Flags
J League Soccer Team Flags

Links:

Jan 14, 2013

Coordinated Support and More Challenges

Discussing KK-Related Diverse Issues in Tokyo
Discussing KK-Related Diverse Issues in Tokyo

In two months, the disaster-stricken Tohoku will be holding the second memorial service of the Higashi Nippon Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster which took place on March 11, 2011. Although many people have found their daily routines and ways of sustaining their lives, situations for many have not really improved. To make the situation worse, supports to them are diminishing day by day, forcing them to face real struggles for survival.

Despite such difficulties, “Kirarin Kids (KK)” in Rikuzen Takada City is managing very well and is continuing to make extra efforts to continue their operations and provide indispensable benefits to the city.

The most significant event took place this January in Tokyo. Understanding the increased difficulty of providing sustainable support to KK, twenty three people who have in many different ways helped KK in diverse stages got together and formed a support organization which tries to pull together separately operated supports in a more organized way. The key actors will be three organizations of HANDS, the Niiza Childcare Center and the DSIA, and we invited staffs in KK to come to Tokyo on January 4, 2013, to express the firmness of our long-term support to them in front of them, and also discussed many issues for KK's long-term development. The three organizations will start periodically exchanging information.

Independent of such movements in Tokyo, KK has already committed to provide more services than people around them expect them to do. First of all, in addition to their routine of childcare sessions (toy play sessions, making traditional mizuki dango cakes, pounding rice cakes, singing children songs, aroma therapies, exercising with balance balls, etc.), they started new activities. One of them is fathers-children sessions. They now host periodic sessions to have fathers and children who lost mothers in the disaster come to their place, and facilitate interactions not only between fathers and children, but also among fathers with similar situations. Fathers seem to be more hesitant to come openly to show their situations and not to share their experiences with other fathers of similar situations. But KK decided to continue this type of sessions, not specifically targeting at fathers of concerned situations, but rather targeting any type of fathers who would love to bring their children to childcare sessions. They have already organized a session to play with blocks, and will host another session soon to have fathers and children jointly make soba noodles. They are still trying to develop a variety of activities to promote fathers/children interactions.

As another type of new activity, KK decided to create more employment to their client mothers. They are planning to increase a variety of special events so that more mothers can come in to help KK and make some extra income. This is greatly because keeping people in the disaster-stricken area is becoming increasingly difficult, despite demands for construction workers are increasing. Just about thirty percent of people who moved out of the disaster-stricken area reported not to come back to their original place. Given this situation, KK is trying its best through diverse activities to improve the attractiveness of the city.

As a part of such efforts, KK is now engaging in toy renting activities and is also requested by mothers in remote temporary housing areas to provide weekend childcare sessions. Hence, KK is now thinking of developing a remote childcare service system, to which the DSIA is newly requested to look for financial help.

The DSIA also has sent three teams of experts: (1) specialists from the Griefcare Institute of Sophia University to be with mothers of KK who suffered from the loss of family members; (2) a specialist to take care of child welfare, especially to offer advises to mothers in KK having special concerns; and (3) a specialist on child psychology to provide general advises to mothers in KK. KK’s responses to (1) and (2) were especially good. Hence, (1) is scheduled to visit there again right before the second memorial service.

Thus, the DSIA has seen radical improvements not only in developing the support system to KK in Tokyo in collaboration with other organizations and active individuals. But KK itself is now advancing their work into new fields to expand their activities. Supports to them have resulted in good responses and advancements. The DSIA has been very lucky to be able to work with such active and devoting people.

KK
KK's Children Play Room in Rikuzen Takata
KK
KK's Upstairs Office in Rikuzen Takata

Links:

Oct 22, 2012

Happy to See Shops to Grow Out of Shop Tent

Government-provided Temporary Shopping Complex
Government-provided Temporary Shopping Complex

     It was very nice to see the Government-established temporary shops (now I call the Isatomae Community Shopping Complex = ICSC) with full of people and interesting events (Picture 1), such as singing, games, fireworks, etc. on Saturday, October 20, 2012, when I visited Isatomae in Minami-sanrikucho, Miyagi Prefecture. People there are now feeling that the community is on its way for reconstruction. I learned from the Head of our Shop Tent (also the Vice Head of the ICSC) that the last two shops in the tent moved out. Learning about such change, I went to see the Shop Tent only to find closed. On Saturday when I expected to see many activities, the tent was extremely quiet and was even locked (Picture 2). I learned that the nature school still operates there when scheduled and the tent still functions as the place for community activities and storage. But this sad situation for me was really a sign of recovery, development and our success, which we have been working for.

     I went to see shop owners of the last two shops. The barber opened a very nicely decorated and modern shop a little bit off the center of ICSC only a few days ago (see Picture 3). But the pre-fabricated complex was really nice, and the barber was really happy to be able to restart her own shop. She must have saved a fairly big sum by operating in the free-of-charge Shop Tent, though she had to put up with hot or extremely cold temperature during summer or winter respectively. She decided to locate her shop in a little elevated place, since she does not have to move out to raise the ground-level two years later. Also, a sake shop owner opened a small container shop (see Picture 4), which is very easy to remove, right next to the ICSC. The two owners were extremely thankful to the operation of the tent. As a matter of fact, without a long period of tent operation, they could not have started the present shops. When they expressed deep appreciation of our help, I am firmly convinced that the tent played a key role in the early phase to help Isatomae people to move forward despite enormous difficulties they were facing.

     The government will first of all build an eight-meter-high dike along the coast, but it will also raise the present roads by five meters and build a shop area right next to the ocean after raising the land level by three meters. Shops will remain close to the ocean, while houses will be built in places as high as 30 to 50 meter above the sea level. But following the government plan means that within two years or so, the ICSC has to move out of the present place again to raise the land level, and that it will take another two years before all constructions will be completed. For four more years, they will continue to use temporary facilities including our Shop Tent. The Head of Shop Tent gave me a planning map, and to my great surprise, the newly established housing area will be located very close to the Shop Tent (Picture 5). This suggests that the tent will be again fully used two years later to accommodate temporary shops and possibly long after as a community center.

     Now, the present role of the DSIA is advancing to a new stage to help the ICSC alive and active. It intends to support their activities during another torturous and long period of transition. At this moment, it is very difficult for them to think two years ahead other than developing a blue print, since they are really preoccupied with making their living especially by bringing back supporters from non-disaster-affected areas and reactivating their economy. As a matter of fact, there were four or five mobile kitchen cars in the ICSC on Saturday, whose operators came all the way from Tokyo simply to make events lively and donate earnings to the ICSC. The volunteer work of such people now makes a drastic difference to support reconstruction activities.

Quiet and Closed Shop Tent
Quiet and Closed Shop Tent
New Barber Shop
New Barber Shop
New Sake Shop
New Sake Shop
Development Plan and Shop Tent
Development Plan and Shop Tent

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