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-a...
Oct 24, 2016

A Good News to be Able to Stay Two More Years

Mobile Toy Library
Mobile Toy Library

On Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, Kirain Kids (KK) opened a mobile toy library (Picture 1), which provides opportunities for children to play with toys not used in diverse childcare centers over weekend. Children were really enjoying to play with toys, even forgetting where their parents were.

Rikuzen Takata City opened this month a new childcare center, since the number of new born babies is increasing to about 100 every year. Now, the city has three childcare centers and one parent-child play circle (KK). They all offer services to both parents and children, while three childcare centers are city-operated, having childcare specialist and nurses and providing advises to children. They are operated by semi-professional staffs. In contrast, KK is rather operated by people who have experiences in childrearing and high motivation. The city now has a wonderful environment for children, and parents can choose which childcare center to go.

KK has been contributing significantly to developing such environment. And many childcare centers follow the pioneering KK. Since it is a private operation, it has a strength of flexibly organizing programs and events as children’s needs and interests change. When events are offered, usually twice more children participate than the number KK usual have in weekday operations. Thus, it is important for KK to organize events at least once a week, since they effectively bring joyful interactions between children and parents. Naturally, weekend evens impose extra works for its staff.

One interesting phenomenon is that when mothers from foreign countries participate such evens, they all show quite different ways to solve children’s fightd over toys. Mothers from foreigncountries are learning how Japanese come to settle conflicts, while Japanese mothers also learn different ways of raising children. This rich educational environment is a pride for the staff to keep organizing diverse programs in KK.

The Second KK’s Athletic Meeting for toddler between age zero and two was held this fall, and the number of participants increased twice relative to the last year, counting twenty-four pairs of parents and children. Quick responses to participate this event came from the neighboring communities, suggesting quite effective dissemination of the even information. Renting a bigger community center also encouraged the participation of grandparents and other family members. KK worked so hard that they even developed an event for infants. Since KK offered a highly enjoyable and heart-warming even to the communities of this region, a local newspaper also reported this even with pictures of smiling children.

Also, the first Apple Picking Event was also well appreciated by KK members. In the past, KK was taking children for excursion in a bus. However, due to the budget cut, this year they changed their way of thinking and took children to a neighboring place in the city. Since Rikuzen Takata is a well-known city for a fairly large number of apple orchards, they went to pick apples and made desserts from pickled apples. The lack of the budget generated an opportunity to think about an interesting idea.

Now, the temporary shop arcade where they currently operate will be sustained for the next two years. Nobody knows what is going to happen after that. A housing area is currently developed on a higher ground with noises and dusts of dump cars going back and forth. They may have to think their future by keeping close eyes on changes taking place in the city.

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Oct 24, 2016

Where do the Young Go when Development Work Ends

Trucks busy for raising the land level
Trucks busy for raising the land level

Still many dump cars are going back and forth, busy in raising the level of land (Picture 1) to be use for building the final main shop arcade. It is scheduled to be completed in April 2017. On Oct. 19th, 2016, the ceremony of starting to build the arcade was conducted. Besides, an exit of a highway will be also constructed. Since the temporary shop arcade this weekend will organize an event, it has quite many young people gathering. It seems that the place is busy with people and trucks, giving a strong impression of redevelopment (Picture 2). But people in the town seems to be split into two groups of those who remember the old scenery before the disaster and elementary school children up to the third grade who do not remember the past scenery and grew up with the sound of redevelopment.

 During the past five years, children took school buses for the safety of children, funded by the redevelopment budget, costing 0.2 billion yen a year. With the government budget cut for redevelopment, now a discussion is taking place even to cut school buses, unless the Minami-sanriku Township will finance the operation, which is unlikely to come up with a budget of such a big sum.

 Besides, children used to walk a long distance, while the younger generation has been riding the school bus, losing a valuable opportunity to build their muscle. Although school buses are likely to be maintained, while dump cars are speeding in the main street, local culture, which used to maintain a sense of community as well as the physical strength of children, seems to have disappeared. How can the redevelopment of the past culture be achieved? It is quite a difficult question, since they feel that they are moving to a completely unknown direction.

When redevelopment construction ends and when the scenery and people’s practices change, how do people face this new stage? On October 1, 2016, the Tomura Community Center was opened, which was in the past a junior-high-school building whose first floor was destroyed by Tsunami. The school was forced to merge with another school. With some repairs, it is now used as a community center, which includes the Disaster Learning Seminar Room and a room for collecting and keeping disaster-related materials. Only existing high school, Shizukawa High School in the neighboring part of the township, now suffers from the decline of student enrollment, and decided to reduce one class down to three classes from the next April. Now, the township is planning to use the unused classroom to keep documents related to the disaster, so that people do not forget the incident.

Job opportunities for the younger generation has also changed. In the past, they all worked as fishermen, but now a significant number of them work in construction businesses involved in the redevelopment of the area. They work in small- and medium-sized construction subcontractors, which pays far less salary than that of an ordinary businessman. A big question is whether they will be continuously employed after the completion of redevelopment construction. Can they find a job a few years later? This also generate a worry to shop owners in the arcade, since the consumption will drastically decline when no job is available to young people. Besides, inequality between young fishermen and unemployed people will be a serious social problem.

According to the Committee for Redeveloping Isatomae Community, the number of people participating in its meetings have drastically declined. The redevelopment of hard infrastructure is undeniably advancing, while that of soft side is carrying a hidden bomb of aggravating community problems.

One informant to this report decided not to move into the newly built arcade. Instead, he will use a part of his new house, to be established in a redevelopment community of 100 houses. In this way, he believes that he can respond better to the needs of familiar local people and provide goods and services. Other than fishing business, this community may be the only source of stimulating economic activities in Isatomae.

Young people helping the event of the arcade
Young people helping the event of the arcade

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Sep 26, 2016

Tohoku Experience Provides New Kumamoto Strategy

Yataimura for Redevelopment of Mashikicho
Yataimura for Redevelopment of Mashikicho

In August 8, 2016, the Kamaishi Kitchen Car team was in Mashikicho, Kumamoto Prefecture, to discuss about the future support plan to the Kumamoto Kitchen Car team, since people in emergency shelters are moving into temporary houses. As of this date, 641 people are still in 10 Mashikicho shelters, 130 people in 4 Minami-Aso Village ones, and 53 people in Nishihara Village ones. They will be moving to one location during October and then to temporary houses by the end of this year. Given this situational changes, the project will soon shift its strategy from providing food at emergency shelters to more extensive collaboration with diverse NGOs and local Social Welfare Councils (Shakai Fukushi Kyogikai) to serve food at temporary houses, build communities for disaster-stricken people, and continue to offer psychological cares. The Kamaishi team tries to support these shifts, especially because they learned that this shifts is extremely important in a difficult way.

To plan this shift, the Kamaishi team discussed with the Kumamoto team and diverse local actors, such as Mashiki City Government officials, local companies providing food ingredients, NGOs, and local Social Welfare Councils. Especially, the Kamaishi team explained how important it is to build a place where people can come and talk to each other, and that this can be achieved much better and smoothly through eating food together, which is called “food communication.” A community building at a disaster location is very important to keep healthy psychological conditions of disaster-stricken people. And as the Kamaishi team experienced, this community building can be done effectively by several kitchen cars establishing a place where they serve periodically. This community building in an emergency situation is what the Ippan Shadan Hojin DSIA has been supporting in Kamaishi, Isatomae in Minami-Sanrikucho, and Rikuzen Takata partly with GlobalGiving supports. And now, the Kamaishi team is now trying to support this community building in Kumamoto through food communication.

One disaster-stricken former restaurant owner plans to start operating his kitchen car from October, while the Kumamoto team has two kitchen cars donated by the Kamaishi team. It seems that those who developed a temporary food village, called “Yataimura” which is shown by pictures, may not be able to operate the place for a long time due to several problems they are facing. They may be willing to shift to kitchen car operations or join the new efforts of community building supported by the Kamaishi team.

Here is what the Kamaishi team has discussed with diverse local partners.

  1. The Kamaishi team will support local efforts to rebuild local people’s living, especially by hoping to prevent local people leaving from villages where population decline has been a serious problem. What the team promised to do is to contribute to building a community of food communication and providing psychological care to children and local people through food. These activities cover 1,317 people in Nishihara Village and 5,366 people in Mashikicho.
  2. The team will support to rebuild the function of local economy by offering local shops and restaurants to conduct their business at places where people will get together. It will support and advise kitchen car operators, ventures, and starting ventures established by young people. Presently, the team is already advising five companies and shops, involved in (1) soy sauce manufacturing and sales, (2) confectionary manufacturing and sales, (3) shaved ice sales, (4) Japanese-style bar, and (5) restaurant and lunch-box catering businesses.  

The Kamaishi team could not visit Mashikicho in October due to the shortage of fund. But being grateful to a grant offered by GlobalGiving, it can start making more support to local people and make periodical visits to Mashikicho. The team was extremely thankful to those who made the team’s important support to disaster-stricken people in the Kumamoto Earthquake Disaster.  

Kumamon in a Yataimura event
Kumamon in a Yataimura event
Inside the Yataimura
Inside the Yataimura

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