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...
Jan 29, 2016

Move to Third Temporary Shop Arcade with Ample Worries

Newly Established Temporary Shops
Newly Established Temporary Shops

From the beginning of 2016 New Year, shop owners at the Isatomae Fukko Shopping Arcade (IFSA) have been very busy preparing for their third move to another temporary shop. In order to raise the land level of the area where the main shop will be constructed, they have to move again to another temporary shop. This is their third time to move, including the initial GlobalGiving-supported tent shop.

At present, their schedule is to remain there for one year and nine months, though this schedule works for them is naturally uncertain in the disaster-stricken area. The temporary shop stands alone in an elevated land, facing the Pacific Ocean, nothing to prevent ocean winds and views. The entrance to the building is on the ocean side. It may sound nice for outside visitors, but for many of those who experienced the disaster, the view simply reminds them of the terrible experiences of the disaster. Many local people complain that they do not feel easy to visit the newly established shop. To make the situation worse, this building stands along a national road still situated at the unraised level, and it is rather difficult for drivers to recognize the existence of the building. But when a small bridge over a corner of ocean, which has been remaining destroyed, will be reconstructed for bypassing town traffic, drivers will rather easily recognize the existence of this temporary shop. But there is also uncertainty whether this bridge will be completed in time before the final move to the main shop. Shop owners are now waiting for an official opening of the temporary shop scheduled on February 7, 2016, worrying whether local people will come back to the shop or whether the bridge will be completed rather quickly.

Torment between hope and anxiety is much worse when shop owners talk about the main shop. What is unusually nice is that the main shop will be designed by Mr. Sumi who just won a competition over the design of the national athletic field for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. He is a well-known architect using woods and green, which raises local people’s expectation for the use of local lumbers. However, they have to raise a question about the cost, 3/4 of which will be subsidized by the government, while 1/4 will be financed by the local shop owners. Shop owners have to invest a certain amount and still have to pay for a monthly rent of a shop space with a ten-year land lease. If the number of shops declines, their financial burden increases. At an event, shops can make extra sales, but their business basically remains catering for the needs of the local. The size of their business is small. To aggravate shop owners’ worries, since most of local people own cars, local people have a tendency to go shopping within a 30 to 40 kilometer range to big shopping malls, including Kesennuma City. With the completion of the Reconstruction Highway, people will easily stretch their range of shopping, meaning that IFSA have to make constant efforts to attract customers.

Nationally-appointed and –paid consultants are helping to plan redevelopment facilities. Presently, they are proposing to bring a large-sized nationally-known convenience store in the main shop. Their expectation is that the convenience store increases visitors to the shop. However, there is one example of failure. One town, as a way of reactivating local economy, brought a convenience store before the disaster only to force local shops closed within ten years and keep only the convenience store alive. To prevent such occurrence, shop owners are now frequently engaging in discussions whether they can develop their original goods or organize events to stimulate shop’s development. For example, in December, they decided to appeal that abalone used in the Abalone Festival in Kesennuma came from Isatomae. Since fishermen can catch abalone only four or five times a year under a conservation program, they decided to appeal that Isatomae is the place in this area where abalone is caught and attract people who could not enjoy abalone at the Kesennuma Festival to come to Isatomae. They also delivered fliers to neighboring cities. Consequently, they found people from neighboring cities to come to buy abalone at the IFSA.

These struggles of IFSA shops may suggest that they are now shifting their management activities from survival to sustainability. Now, five years have passed. Mr. Yamauchi, who was formerly the Head of IFSA and is now providing detailed information to the DSIA, recognized that five years have passed. His 91 year old father due to his old age moved to Sendai, because of the lack of space in the temporary housing in Isatomae and the existence of large hospitals. Now, after five years, he expressed his wish to come back to Isatomae. He is preparing to build a house, instead of keeping his shop in the main shopping arcade, partly to accommodate his business office in his house as well as his family living together including his father. To complete his plan, it will still take a few more years to offer a comfortable living back in Isatomae to his father. Redevelopment involves time-consuming struggles, involving unusual worries and often unexpected outcome.

Facing Ocean from Shops
Facing Ocean from Shops
National Road Taken from the Shops
National Road Taken from the Shops

Links:

Oct 30, 2015

Restoring Human Relations and Ticking Time Bomb

Hey, let
Hey, let's have a fun!!

     The Halloween Party is now spreading all over Japan, even in Tohoku area, and unexceptionally the Kirarin Kids (KK) also offered the party on October 29, 2015. Twelve pairs of parents and children participated in the party, in which all toddlers wore hand-made pumpkin-looking costumes. Children just loved this event. KK was very happy that they could offer this enjoyable event to young mothers in Rikuzen Takata as the Halloween Parties are organized in many other cities.

     However, what is unique about KK is that they offered hand-made cookies with their own recipes, since they believe that dietary education with hand-made food signifies one of their important missions to transmit from old generations to new ones warm and heart-filled parents-children relations found in their tradition. Every season, they organize a session for hand-made modern as well as traditional food. Their recipe for the Halloween Party was donuts made with brown seaweeds, scorn made out of rice flour which causes less allergy reaction among children, and pumpkin soup. A dietician explained their menu. One mother with a baby was really happy to learn the recipe, since she has not given any commercial cookie to her baby and will try to make it at home.    

     Despite the fact that such recipe is available in internet, important is offering an opportunity for mothers to actually experience to eat hand-made food, know its ingredient and nourishment to children, and learn how to make it. Behind such activities, there is a special reason for KK to offer dietary education with home-made cooking. It is because the disaster changed ways people live, forcing each family to live in a very small space in a temporary housing, making it difficult to mingle even with family members, and drastically reducing opportunities to get together with older and younger generations. The simplified funeral customs due to a large number of diseased people also changed the role of traditional food and community relations. Besides, the core of community relations in this area was to exchange fresh and delicious food among people, which became impossible due to dispersed residences and the reduce amount of catches. Since KK believes that the disaster changed local people’s habit of eating and destroyed community relations, it hopes to contribute to rebuilding community relations by promoting hand-made food and offering dietary education of both modern and traditional food, especially the latter to young mothers.   

     Several families attended KK’s Halloween Party for the first time. They decided to come to the Party, simply because they participated in the KK-organized children’s athletic meeting in which even a zero-year old baby could participate. As many as fifty families participated in the athletic meeting, which was the first event ever organized in the city since the disaster. Parents and children from neighborhood communities also participated. Consequently, KK became famous for offering events, responding to the needs of the community, and developing ways to solicit parents and children to participate in community activities.

     However, as it has been reported in the past to the GlobalGiving, despite that four years have passed out of five year guarantee to remain in this temporary shopping arcade, has evolved no clear picture where KK’s future location will be. They do not know whether they can even extend their stay in the present place, since negotiation between three land owners and the city government does not seem to be working out well. Several offers to move into a supermarket or a public housing area exist, but they do not have enough revenue to manage their activities in those places. They also think that they would like to apply to cloud funding. But people are not any more paying attention to the disaster area. Many people in a similar situation, including KK, really feel uncertain about their future.

     A national meeting for children-rearing support organizations will be held in November this year in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, for two days. Among many sessions, there will be one session for Tohoku-based organizations, including KK, which will discuss about support to disaster-stricken families in Tohoku. In October, the entry was closed, disappointedly only to find the lowest number of participants in the session in comparison to others. It clearly suggests that people are now less interested in problems in the disaster-stricken area.

     Given the situation stated above, despite clicking time bomb, no vision has been developed, simply aggravating KK’s anxiety and uncertainty. Clearly, no end is yet foreseen about redevelopment out of the disaster.

Hey, amn
Hey, amn't I scary?
Children have a fun with mothers
Children have a fun with mothers

Links:

Oct 30, 2015

Feeling Dignity amid Ever Increasing Anxiety

Students at the last school excursion in Isatomae
Students at the last school excursion in Isatomae

     On October 10, 2015, an operation to build a temporary shopping arcade finally started on the raised land of 9,900 m2 which accommodates a temporary shopping arcade of ten shops and a parking place. This is what they have been waiting for a long-time, and shop owners are relieved to see the advancement. However, soon after hearing this good news, they encountered several unexpected problems. First of all, although the shop building is constructed by a subsidy from the SME Support Japan, a government-sponsored organization to help small- and medium-sized companies, they do not provide any facility at all to each shop, even the minimum decoration. They now find that they have to install all necessary equipment and shelves by themselves even for one year operation. It is a new headache that shop owners are facing.

     Secondly, since the shop is located in a much higher place than the road, passers-bys are not easy to stop at the shop arcade. Thirdly, the temporary shop is established very close to the ocean where a dike for protection has not yet been completed at all. Even though the land level is a little bit higher than before, if they get another tsunami, they are very easy to be swallowed. Many of them actually experienced the awful power of tsunami, and feel very insecure remembering many lives that disappeared in front of their eyes at the disaster. They are feeling quite uneasy to stay in shops.

     Lastly, a very disappointing factor is that no new shop, especially a restaurant, is joining them, which is to some extent understandable for a duplicated cost involved to be in a temporary shop. Despite soliciting many shops to join the arcade, none expressed its interest. The present shop owners feel that the existence of a restaurant is really important, since visitors tend to remain inside the complex for a longer duration than otherwise. When people from the Nihonbashi Rotary Club in Tokyo visited there in October, the shop served locally-produced fresh sea-weeds. They all expressed that a restaurant to taste this really-delicious locally-produced see-food should be there. Unfortunately, we cannot meet such demand. In September for a bicycle event of the Tour de Tohoku 2015, they served sea-food curry rice for 1,400 people. The shop was really crowded and many people tut-tut for the excellent taste of the curry rice. Opportunities to attract visitors are there, but visitors cannot be fully attracted without a good restaurant. On this issue, there is another serious problem. From the ocean in front of the shop arcade, many types of fresh see food, such as salmon, octopus, mackerel, etc. can be caught. But since all sea food processing plant was washed away, we are just purchasing see food even to serve during an event from neighboring towns, not helping to rebuild the local economy at all. In August, voluntary concerts performed by students from Anjo Gakuen in Miyagai Prefecture were also very successful to attract many visitors. However, organizing events to attract visitors to the shop arcade is becoming increasingly difficult due to diminishing donations and the shortage of helping hands.  

     We are pleased very much with the advancement in the construction of a temporary shopping arcade, but it is accompanied by ever increasing uncertainty and anxiety. Sometimes, we are relieved by some voluntary visitors. For example, 40 graduating high school students from Tsurugashima Seifu High School visited the shop for their last school trip. In the school, from April, they have been studying on disaster and recovery by finding out about life immediately after the disaster, emergency equipment that helped people to survive, change of life style caused by the disaster, and efforts for reconstruction. Students were very eager to learn from our experiences, raising many questions, while shop owners were really pleased to be able to help younger generation amid a situation where they are simply receiving abundant help from outside people. They felt dignity in the fact that they can be any help to others.

     In short, they are still facing a situation where maintaining their living is still extremely difficult and where they have to live through with ever increasing uncertainty and anxiety.

Links:

 
   

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