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Jul 21, 2021

Kuni: A Japanese Vision for Reviving Rural Lands

The Kamiechigo Yamazato Fan Club founder Tsuyoshi Sekihara is the subject of international research, writing, and symposia. While isolated and shrinking rural communities in Japan face extinction, Sekihara has, for the past 20 years, crafted a system of regional management that reverses the depressing trend of decline. Ongoing ties to urban repeat visitors, and a sense of autonomy that matches direct social services with deeper connections to tradition, the ecology of place and a shared sense of purpose in the right-sized community of rural Joetsu, Japan. I am grateful to The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, The Japan Society, and the Japan NPO Center to support the development of the forthcoming book. To learn more, watch the 2019 symposium at the Japan Society in NYC; and read my post, “How You Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm?” elsewhere on this site. 

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I could spend a lifetime with the spiraling journey of Kuni. Why is this? I believe there are many. However, I think I figured out one reason. When Sekihara insisted upon the importance to cultivate repeat visitors, I immediately nodded affirmatively. I remember how after the flood waters left the city in New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina, we were again flooded. But this time, we were flooded with people. This new demographic became known as "voluntours." Almost overnight, the city became party to a new industry: "voluntourism." It came with its complexities: rubbernecking, leering into the lives of those who have experienced trauma. However, it also spoke to a serious deficit in many people's lives: Meaning. Recently, I discussed this pull that the city has upon outsiders — individuals for whom post-Katrina New Orleans still has a psychic hold upon them — with a college graduate who first came to the city in high school to build houses, clean up neighborhoods, etc. It is this personal need for meaning that — if done with care — is something to trade on. The Kamiechigo Yamazato Fan Club is the gateway for many Tokyo residents who seek meaning. This idea can be replicated in many places. However, it takes care, vision and action. 

Useful links:

The book will be published in the autumn of 2022 by North Atlantic Publishers. Read more from Seinsheimer Literary
The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership
The Japan Society
The Japan NPO Center

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Kuni: A Japanese Vision for Reviving Rural Lands

Kuni: A Japanese Vision for Reviving Rural Lands

To be published in Autumn 2022 by North Atlantic Publishers!
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Kuni teaches us that we can all be what German sociologist Ulrich Beck describes as “place polygamists.” Live in the city, but dream rural. Live in a rice-growing village, but play also play host to an influx of repeat visitors. Rural innovator Tsuyoshi Sekihara has crafted a new social experiment in the far, rural reaches of Niigata Prefecture in Japan. He calls his ideas, Kuni. I am working with Sekihara to help tell his story, and translate his ideas about scale and survival in rural communities to new audiences outside of Japan. 

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The unraveling of the industrial food system must be a key goal of a lasting food movement

The unraveling of the industrial food system must be a key goal of a lasting food movement

On this particular #TBT (with mischief in the air — April Fools), I am reminded of this delicious assignment from Karen Karp.

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24 July 2021

24 July 2021

The Launch of the World Farmers Market Coalition and the release of the First World Farmers Market Report at the Circo Massimo Market in Rome, Italy with UN Deputy Secretary Amina J. Mohammed.

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