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...
Aug 23, 2016

Kitchen Cars to Satisfy Enormous Unmet Needs

Picture 1 (Local participants and customers)
Picture 1 (Local participants and customers)

     Three Kamaishi Kitchen Car (KKC) members including the Head of the KCC project, drove one kitchen car and one air-conditioned roomette about 1,750 km from Kamaishi City to Mashiki Township (Mashikicho) in Kumamoto Prefecture in June. They carried ingredients good for 800 servings of food and also specialty and other food products good for 400 servings entrusted by companies and local government offices in Tohoku to carry to develop cooperative relations between two disaster-stricken areas. Since they have experienced the East Japan Earth Quake and Tsunami of March 2011, they really know the pain and unserved needs of disaster-stricken people.

     In Mashikicho, the School Lunch Supply Center was completely destroyed, and will not be rebuilt for two more years. Since children are purchasing bread and lunch boxes from convenience stores, mothers started expressing their concern about the health conditions of their children. Thus, when they arrived at Masikicho, as the first service of the kitchen cars, they started offering 200 serving of food at Hiroyasu Elementary School (see Picture 1) which was used as an emergency and temporary shelter. There, about ten high school and university student volunteers constantly help people in the temporary shelter and kitchen car operations.

     Then, they operated at the Children Life Education Care (LEC) Center, where 100 emotionally disturbed children live and receive treatments. Due to the disaster situation, no summer festival was scheduled, disappointing them. Although they are usually not allowed to interact with outside people, because of KKC’s earlier involvement with the LEC Center, three KKC members were given a special permission to offer heart-warming interactions with the children by serving Ishinomaki Yakisoba, shaved ice, and decorated chocolate banana (see Picture 2). People operating the Center expressed their gratitude, saying that they have never seen children smiling and expressing joy this much after the earthquake disaster. Given the reward of children’s smiling faces, KCC members willingly promised to come back to contribute to ease the stresses of children.

     Three KCC members also created one night of people’s gathering at Nishihara Village, where food serving by unlicensed people has been banned because of food poisoning incidents. In cooperation with a local NPO, the KCC members invited 200 local residents, served Tohoku specialty food, and held a small concert. Since the village has no restaurant operating now, villagers found an unusual opportunity of eating outside and getting together with others. They felt really relieved from daily stresses living in the disaster-stricken situation. The KCC members promised to come back to organize another similar event at their next visit.

     The first day of the KCC’s Kumamoto operation on June 16 started by explaining how the KCC was operated in Kamaishi City to officials from Mashikicho and demonstrating the actual cooking and serving of “Kamaishi Noodle” to 150 participants. Also, ten disaster-stricken restaurant owners who have been informed of this session from the Mashikicho Shokokai (Mashikicho Commerce and Industry Association).

     Then later, the Head of the KCC project met the Mayer of Mashikicho and a Prefectural Assembly Member from this district. He read a message from the Kamaishi City Mayor who expressed to offer support and help to Mashikicho to overcome difficulties caused by the disaster. And they all discussed about potential future cooperation.

     In the evening, a special session was organized particularly to explain the kitchen car operation to the ten disaster-stricken restaurant owners. This session explained how to operate kitchen cars and develop the support system and what necessary costs and available subsidies from the government are. Then, they went inside the KCC-provided kitchen car and the Kumamoto-team-operated “Fried Pizza” kitchen car. The next day, these ten owners helped actual operation by serving “Ishimaki Yakisoba,” “Fried Pizza” and “Shaved Ice.” Those restaurant owners, for the first time after the disaster, had a chance to actually cook food for their customers. They were so pleased with their experiences that they expressed their hope to start operating kitchen cars as soon as possible. As a matter of fact, a few owners were planning to start their business by borrowing a space in a newly established complex for “Temporary Redevelopment Market.” Despite so, they wished to start using a kitchen car, simply because the new restaurant space is very small, because the Market is expected to last only for one year, and greatly because the location is too far away from where their old customers live. In this sense, a kitchen car does not require any space other than a parking spot and can operate where their old customers live. Fascinated with the idea of developing a venture, already five restaurant owners have already requested some support from the several levels of governments and the Mashikicho Commerce and Industry Association.

     One kitchen car brought this time from Kamaishi City was loaned for free to the Kumamoto Catering Association to be used for training. This also means that KCC still continues to support Kumamoto kitchen car operations, while they do not have to drive 1,750 km from Kamaishi to Mashikicho. A roomette car actually had a spacy room with an air condition facility (see Picture 3). This was also loaned for free to a young restaurant owner with a child as their living quarter, rather than being used as a restaurant. Through e-mails and telephone, the KCC is offering advises, even to help to write up a business plan.

     In the first week of August, four people from the KCC on their own kitchen cars loaded with food visited Mashikicho to help the restaurant owners to develop their business plans as well as to give on-the-job training, while they continued to offer food to emotionally disturbed children at the LEC Center as well as to people in Minami Aso Village. Since some people started moving into temporary housing and since the number of people remaining in a temporary shelter is declining, good planning for locations and the amount of food to be prepared had to be well planned.

     So far, the KCC has been extremely successful not only to serve the needs of local people by providing food and psychological care, but also to stimulate disaster-stricken restaurant owners to start planning to operate their own kitchen cars, possibly being financially supported by government offices and the local Commerce and Industry Association. The KCC is pioneering to reactivate disaster-stricken local economy. However, a question is how long can they continue to help, since they are finding it difficult to obtaining funding for their operations. Although they received donations for food to be delivered to disaster-stricken people in Kumamoto, they are financing some portion of served food by themselves, suggesting that they are financing most of their operations including traveling by themselves. Unless they find some sources of financing, this operation may not last long, despite enormous unmet needs of local people in Kumamoto.

Picture 2 (Chocolate covered bananas for children)
Picture 2 (Chocolate covered bananas for children)
Picture 3 (Kitchen car loaned as a living quarter)
Picture 3 (Kitchen car loaned as a living quarter)

Links:

Jul 25, 2016

Managing Sustainability by Making Best Use of Existing Means

Land Raising for the Permanent Arcade
Land Raising for the Permanent Arcade

Blue ocean spreading in front of the Temporary Fukko Shopping Arcade in Isatomae, Minami- Sanrikucho, is really beautiful. But visitors to the temporary arcade is not likely to buy goods there, since they are basically for local people to satisfy their needs. Tourists who visit there are returnees to witness town’s redevelopment. They are supporters of Isatomae redevelopment, and come back to see community developments and beautiful blue ocean. However, very soon eight-meter high dike will be completed, blocking even the view of this beautiful blue ocean. Rumors are spreading that the dike construction is even influencing the catch of fish and shellfish in the bay area of the Isatomae. Nobody has provided adequate explanation.  

 In addition to the dike construction, the land raising for the main shop arcade across the present temporary one (see Picture 1) is taking place. Due to these construction works, many trucks are driving by the arcade. It may take additional three years to see the total picture of Isatomae, which adds up to ten years after the disaster. But two thirds of residents in a temporary housing in an elementary school have moved out to either publicly-provided housing areas or their self-constructed houses. At least, some changes and advancements are taking place.  

 According to the Minami-Sanrikucho City Government, the main shopping arcade will open in March, 2017. However, due to the government’s past failures to meet its schedule, shop owners are highly skeptical of this schedule and have to be mentally prepared to flexibly cope with any change to come. One fortunate fact is that the designer of the main shopping arcade is the same one as that of the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo to be completed in 2020. Shop owners are hoping that this fact itself will attract more visitors and local shoppers to come to the shopping arcade.

 Now, the reduction of tourists and local customers is becoming a serious issue. The location of the temporary shop arcade is not conspicuous due to construction activities. To show its location, they are showing the flags of J-League Soccer Teams, with which in the past they try to win a Guinness record in vain (see Picture 2). It seems to be catching the eyes of some visitors. But since its location is too far away from the newly built redevelopment housing area, they are not quite succeeding to attract local customers, especially so with senior residents. They even placed picknick tables in front of shops (see Picture 3). However, a group of young people drove to the temporary arcade in order to buy soft-ice-cream, since no other place in the area sells it. It seems that local people know what kind of goods are available at the temporary arcade, though many residents still feel inconvenient to come to this distant place.   

 The main business of Mr. Yamauchi, who was formerly the head of the Shopping Arcade Association and is providing information about the development of the arcade to DSIA, is to sell sports goods. But more recently, the orders of curtain rails are increasing, hinting that local house constructions are developing. But the amount of order seems to be limited, since the order comes only from local construction companies, not from large-sized construction companies. Their bulk-purchases enable them to obtain curtain rails expensively from large shops in big cities. As this trend suggests, shop owners of the arcade is flexibly and wisely operating to supply whatever local people need.

 In this sense, they are more concerned about the movement and development of the area as well as brining people back to the area, rather than the sales amount of their own shops. For example, a large number of children in the community attended the Night Market organized by the temporary arcade in early July. The number of attendants was so large that every child in the community seems to have participated. It is greatly owing to having delivered fliers to all nurseries and schools in the community (two nursery schools, two elementary schools, and one junior high school). The temporary arcade is well contributing to stimulating community activities. They are now planning to organize one event like this every several months. However, unfortunately, Isatomae could not become an aid station of the Tour de Tohoku due to the construction. In August, there will be the Summer Firework Festival and a baseball game of Rakuten Team in the minor league at a ballpark near the arcade. They are working very hard to make the best use of such opportunities to attract visitors to the temporary arcade.

 Population wise, Shizukawa in Minami-Sanrikucho is twice bigger than Isatomae. They have been trying to redevelop the town by building restaurants with nice menu and low price to attract tourists. The next year, a roadside station to sell local food will open. In contrast, the Fukko Shopping Arcade has been maintaining their business based on human relations with local customers.

Mr. Yamauchi decided not to keep his shop in the Main Shopping Arcade when it is completed. He is to rent a publicly-provided house with a shop space in the Area of Redevelopment Housing. It is much more manageable than purchasing a new house or renting a space in the Main Shopping Arcade. The rule is that the size of the shop should not exceed the half of the house size. He is managing his own sustainability by making use of publicly available help. The general impression of this area is that they are sustaining their community and businesses by combining every available means.

J-League Soccer Team Flags to Show their Location
J-League Soccer Team Flags to Show their Location
Picnic Tables to Attract Visitors
Picnic Tables to Attract Visitors

Links:

Jul 25, 2016

Redevelopment Takes Too Long

4th Anniversary of the Shopping Arcade
4th Anniversary of the Shopping Arcade

“Redevelopment takes too long.” is the word expressed by Ms. Masato Ito, who leads and helps the redevelopment of “Kirarin Kids (KK)” and Rikuzen-takata City respectively. At the end of March 2017, the present lease of the “Kirarin Kids’ space” in the temporary shop arcade with the Rikuzen-takata City expires, and the renewal of the contract will be with the private sector, instead of the city government. It means a big change to KK in many aspects, since it is now forced to choose either to leave the present place and find an alternative location or to renew a contract with a much higher monthly rent and a monthly payment for the future removal of the present complex. This change will really influence the future of KK, since it needs to have a fairly big play space for children which is not easily available, needless to say about the lack of financial resource to keep the present location. Besides, to find a space in the city center which was completely destroyed in the disaster may take several more years to be completed. KK is facing a really serious difficulty to find a solution.

Despite this painful worry, Ms. Ito is working very hard to promote good and warm parent-children relations and offer many programs and events. So far, the main source of funding has been a subsidy from the city government. But since she is trying to serve the needs of the community, she ends up offering new programs which become additional financial burden. A relief for Ms. Ito is that staffs are highly motivated and well willing to work together to sustain the KK.

Their programs have two effects: One is to support parents to raise children. For example, they offer such programs as bouquet-making classes or meetings to learn how to correct pelvis and overcome after-childbirth effects conducted by a midwife. These programs are quite popular to mothers. The other is to promote human relations and help to improve living in the community. For example, this year for the first time, KK participated in the Challenge Day in Sport. This event was to compete, in terms of the community-based participation time and rate, in a paired city, which was between Rikuzen-takata City and Miyako-town in Fukuoka City this year. KK requested two voluntary mothers’ circles to participate, and successfully raised the motivation of mothers and their participation. Owing to such efforts, Rikuzen-takata City won against Miyako-town. Also, in June, to celebrate the fourth year of the Temporary Arcade in which the KK is in, they took an initiative to organize an anniversary event to re-think about the disaster-prevention practices. As these initiatives show, the KK’s recent activities are to act in areas where nobody challenges and also on issues which add new elements to the existing programs. Several newspaper articles about these challenges appeared (see the picture).

In July, KK will organize a summer festival to enjoy cool evening breeze. It has already become one well-known event which many local people participate and enjoy. Many outside organizations which KK has worked with and student volunteers dispatched by universities will participate. Especially, university student volunteers learn about the disaster and redevelopment and also the joy of volunteering to play with children.

Successes of these events are greatly owing to staffs’ willingness and high motivation to realize their goals. Despite the tightness of helping hands caused by maternity leaves, instead of hiring short-term part-timers, they try to manage by staffs who commit for a long-term. This is partly because people in the community pay special attention to reasons for staff’s job hopping from one job to another. This situation keeps each staff extremely busy all the time. How to sustainably operate an organization is a tormenting issue to Ms. Ito. This issue raised three questions: (1) what should be KK’s staff structure and their work assignments; (2) how to organize programs and events with this limited number of staff and also to expand the operation of KK; and (3) how to hire capable people and train them as staffs. Looking for answers to these questions, Ms. Ito, for the first time, decided to attend a conference for the leaders of childcare centers held in Tokyo. Although she is still extremely busy, she now started thinking about KK’s sustainability or, to say in different words, feeling real pressure to think about the issue.   

In addition to the above conference, Ms. Ito, also for the first time, decided to attend a local network of childcare-related organizations. This network was originally organized by people from outside of Rikuzen-taka City. Although many of these outside organizations left the community, a few remaining ones continued to operate this network. Although Ms. Ito previously did not have any time to be involved in the network, she now hopes to build new movements with people in the network to improve childcare situations in Rikuzen-taka City.

     KK constantly has a firm posture to break away from the present restrictions and looks for new ideas and directions. Through these attempts, Ms. Ito will definitely find solutions to above problems in the near future.

Preparation for KK
Preparation for KK's Cool Summer Evening Event 1
Preparation for Cool Summer Evening Event 2
Preparation for Cool Summer Evening Event 2

Links:

 
   

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