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While I was reading Seth Godin’s new book, I came across with Jacqueline Novogratz’s name for more than a couple of times. Just like Godin, I am a big fan of Acumen Fund‘s work. I knew that she was working on a book about her endeavor as a social entrepreneur. I checked Acumen’s website and found out that her book The Blue Sweater will be published next March. How exciting. I also want to see this book translated into Japanese and many other languages. I will not tell what the blue sweater is all about since it is better that you read her book.

I will be writing the same post in Japanese tomorrow. I am sure a lot of people are going to be excited about this news.

(Fumiko)

blue-sweater

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bills-book

I just found out that the Japanese translation of Bill Strickland‘s book Make the Impossible Possible was published in Japan from Eiji Press. I AM THRILLED! It is a wonderful book about Bill’s life story in which he explains how he ended up creating a job-training and arts organization in Pittsburgh for the underserved community. The book was translated by Hiroki Komazaki, also a member of our network, who started an organization in Tokyo to help working parents with sick children. I hope Bill’s book will be widely read not only by aspiring social entrepreneurs but also by young people in Japan.

We first met Bill in June 2006, when we held a retreat at SY Partner‘s office. Then we decided to invite him to a retreat in Tokyo in January 2007. It was his first trip to Japan. Last February, he gave a speech at Japan Society. Here is a link to a summary of the event.

Congratulations!

(Fumiko)

©Satoru Ishikawa

©Satoru Ishikawa

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We recently added videos to our Innovators Network’s channel on YouTube.

Please check it out!

The interviews were all filmed during and after a retreat that we held in Kyoto in November 2007.

Here is the link to our channel.

InnovatorsNetwork

ユーチューブのコンテンツを更新しました。

2007年11月に京都で開かれた会合の参加者の皆様に

イノベーターズ・ネットワークについて伺いました。

下記のリンクをどうぞご覧になってください。

InnovatorsNetwork

(内容は英語です。日本語のインタビューは英語字幕付きです。)

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Tuesday, May 20, 6:30 PM — Japan Society, New York
Thursday, May 22, 6:30 PM — Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans

Kohei Nishiyama, CEO of design-to-order company elephant designInnovation, improvisation and collaboration are critical ingredients for recovery. New approaches to problem-solving in Japan and the United States are helping people envision a better future, whether it’s a community coping with natural disaster or an individual rebounding from homelessness. These symposia explore the art of recovery from a range of different perspectives, keying off of conversations with members of the U.S.-Japan Innovators Network, including Rosanne Haggerty, founder of the supportive housing non-profit Common Ground Community, Kohei Nishiyama, CEO of design-to-order company elephant design, Marty Ashby, Executive Producer of MCG Jazz, and Jay Weigel, Executive/Artistic Director for the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans.

Co-organized with MCG Jazz, Contemporary Arts Center, The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership.

Followed by a reception.

Tickets: (May 20 only, New York): $10/$8 Japan Society members/$5 students & seniors. Order tickets online at www.japansociety.org/ or call the Japan Society box office, Mon-Fri, 11 am to 6 pm, Weekends, 11 am to 5 pm, (212) 715-1258. A $3 service charge is added to all orders. Member ID number required for member ticket purchase. No refunds or exchanges. Programs subject to change.

Tickets: (May 22 only, New Orleans): Free Admission. For more information, please call the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans, (504) 528-3805, or visit www.cacno.org/.

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RETREAT & PUBLIC SYMPOSIUM
Invigorating Communities, Designing for Inclusion
November 4-10, 2007
Kyoto, Japan

PARTICIPANTS
Ruth J. Abram, President, Lower East Side Tenement Museum
Ayako Fujii, President, Environmental Co-op Union, Shiga; & President, Nanohana Project Network
Jeanne Giordano, Urban Design Consultant, Jeanne Giordano Ltd.
Taneo Kato, Secretary General, Asahi Beer Arts Foundation & Executive Director, Yokohama City Arts Promotion Foundation
Keito Kohara, Producer, artcomplex group
Limbon, architect and Professor, Urban Planning, College of Social Sciences,
Ritsumeikan University
Rick Lowe, artist and Founder, Project Row Houses
Osamu Maebashi, President & CEO, M.crew INC.
Tomohiko Okabe, Director, Funnybee Co. Ltd. & CEO, Okabe Tomohiko Design Studio
Villy Wang, President & CEO, BAYCAT

***

Kyoto, a city of 1.5 million people and Japan’s traditional seat of culture, faces challenges familiar to many American cities. At the top of the list are the revival of downtown commercial districts and the inclusion of economically depressed “outsider” groups.

So it was natural that Japan Society’s U.S.-Japan Innovators Network should hold a two-day retreat in Kyoto, bringing together architects, urban planners, and leaders in culture and civil society from the United States and Japan to share ideas on urban revitalization, social inclusion, the role of arts and culture in stimulating local economies.

The two-day retreat, Invigorating Communities, Designing for Inclusion, was held in collaboration with the Keikan Machizukuri Center in Kyoto, and was followed by a public symposium where American participants discussed their work in revitalizing communities in the United States.

The retreat and symposium were inspired by ideas that arose from the U.S.-Japan Innovators Network’s second retreat, (IN)SIGHT: Bridging Gaps (Tokyo 2007), and recommendations made to Japan Society during its third retreat, The Next Phase: Innovators Network (IN).

The Kyoto retreat began with a walking tour through the Kamo River area, with some emphasis on Higashisanjo, a predominately burakumin (a Japanese social minority group) neighborhood, and the Kiyamachi entertainment district, a historically popular entertainment area that has deteriorated.

This provided participants with a first hand look at some of the ongoing issues—commercial and entertainment revitalization, education, crime and beautification—related to the revitalization of depressed communities in Kyoto. The walking tour was followed by a day and a half at the Kyoto Keikan Machizukuri Center intensely discussing each others’ experiences, successes, and ongoing challenges in four sessions:

The Economics of Community Revitalization – Once commercial activity dies in a community, how do you revive it? And once you’ve revived it, how do you make it sustainable, while making sure the original community does not get chased out as a result of over-gentrification?
Community Inclusion: Working with “Outsider Groups” – Whether working with low-income minority communities in San Francisco or Houston, or NEET (Not currently engaged in Employment, Education or Training) and people at the bottom of the social pyramid in Japan, the challenge is the same: How to give the dispossessed a voice and a vested interest in the larger community.
The Role of Arts & Culture in Community Renewal – A strong magnet for cultural communities is important for the health of all urban areas. Strong cultural communities attract people, tourism, new businesses and business investment.
Financing Community Innovation – Whether in Japan or the United States, obtaining financing is a constant challenge for entrepreneurs, both social and business, working in community revitalization.

Each session featured two participants presenting his or her ideas, challenges,
and/or successes on the subject at hand, followed by extensive dialogue among all the participants. From these discussions we uncovered a number of important steps for community revitalization and some poignant observations:

Important Steps to Community Revitalization/Innovation:

Change negative perceptions/mind-set.
Break the emotional barrier.
Use the media to get the word out.
Tell your story to people all over the world.
Build partnerships to increase social network.
Create greater opportunities for outreach and support.
Create new or strengthen fading values.
Foster a community that cares and wants to be involved.

Interesting Observations:

“Outsiders” are not bound by the status quo, bring fresh perspectives, and can affect change.
Invite outsiders to be involved in the design process.
Economic hard times can increase opportunity in community revitalization/innovation.
People are more willing to try new, riskier ideas when things look bleak. The freedom to make mistakes, learn from them, and try new and daring things are critical.

During the final wrap-up session a number of people voiced their desire to continue discussions and collaborate with each other. Discussions started in Kyoto are continuing:

Jeanne Giordano and Limbon are interested in forming an urban development “swat team” to create a
revitalization blue print for Kyoto.
Tomohiko Okabe and Villy Wang, representing organizations that have successfully used the video arts, are interested in deepening their relationship to build more effective means for using the media to empower people and change negative perceptions.
Taneo Kato is interested in collaborating with BAYCAT and is interested in the Tenement Museum’s
unique business structure.
Limbon, Ruth Abram, Jeanne Giordano, Katsuhide Takagi, Manager of the Department of Preservation, Kyoto Keikan Machizukuri Center, and Japan Society staff will meet in January 2008 to discuss future collaboration on historic preservation and community revitalization.

For more on Upcoming Events and Innovators’ News, visit the Innovators Network website: http://innovators.japansociety.org/

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IN JAPAN:

In collaboration with the Kyoto Keikan Machizukuri Center and The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, the Japan Society is hosting a two-day retreat and a symposium in Kyoto:

Private Retreat: Invigorating Communities, Designing for Inclusion
November 6-7

Symposium: Invigorating Communities: Learning from Four Successful Initiatives in the United States
November 8
By Invitation Only

Learn more about the two-day retreat and symposium in Kyoto.

IN THE U.S.:

OFF SITE EVENT
November 29, 2007

6-8pm

The New School
Conference Room 510

66 West 12th Street

Beyond Web 2.0: How the Next Tech Revolution will Change the World

Dr. Hiroshi Tasaka, Professor at Tama University in Tokyo, and President of Thinktank SophiaBank, has authored numerous books on the philosophy of working, management theory, business strategy, the Internet revolution and knowledge society, as well as paradigm shifts in human society. A specialist in complexity systems, Dr. Tasaka will explore how next technology revolution will further empower the individual, blending the monetary and voluntary economies to create a new system of Capitalism. Dr. Tasaka will also discuss ways in which technology will help build bridges between the U.S. and Japan, as well as among countries in Asia in the emerging post-knowledge society. Reception to follow.

Introduction by Professor Eiko Ikegami, Professor of Sociology, The New School for Social Research

FREE ADMISSION. This event is free on first-come, first-served basis. Space is limited. For registration, please go to www.imaginingglobalasia.org

For further information, please call (267)266-0209

Co-organizer: The New School/ imagining global asia

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“I predict that the 21st century will be most effected by a new breed of something we have not seen yet, which is a new form of chapter based organization. Institutions always need to be blown up every once in a while, because even with the best intentions and the great people, new things, you just need ‘new’ to be effective. There’s going to be a whole new breed of organizations like this.”
-Scott Heiferman

When I first heard these words I was taking notes as a relatively new member of the Japan Society staff. Japan Society’s U.S.-Japan Innovators Project was holding its second major retreat in Tokyo and it was my job to capture the overall experience, i.e. atmosphere and important ideas, of the three-day event. Needless to say I was very nervous and anxious to take on one of my first big tasks on the job. I listened and typed and tried my best to record what I could; however, after the retreat I realized nothing really sunk in. There was no time for me to mull over the information that flowed into my ears, through my fingers and onto the screen in front of me. Now, almost six months later I finally got a chance to sit down and go over my notes and transcripts for a purely personal look at what I may have missed. Let me tell you that after re-reading those notes I realized that the wisdom that came out of that retreat was incredible, and I’d like to share some of it with you.

Below is a list of some of my favorite quotes that came out of that retreat, in no particular order:

  • “The high cost of the status quo, well basically what I keep writing down in my notes is SQ > C. Status Quo is costlier than a change. Now that’s a huge idea.”
    -Dan Pink
  • “You know, I’ve kind of figured out how to go from the bandstand to the board room and make it swing. I kind of figured out a way to improvise through that and think of the balance sheet as a set of changes, and never lose that ability say, ‘Why?’ Why do we have to do it that way? Can’t we have some fun with it and play with it? At the end of the year it’s going to be the same numbers. Why don’t we do it this way? And so we’ve been able to kind of improvise our way through it, and still have fun, and keep it going. I mean, that’s the point, is that without the fun part and the play, oh my goodness, I never could deal with these arts administrators and stuff.”
    -Marty Ashby
  • “Start off with the assumption that people are assets, not liabilities, and treat them that way and you will see extraordinary things happen.”
    -Bill Strickland
  • “What we need to do is to create these cycles, and allow innovation to be adaptive and not recreated, because we’re wasting so much money in international reconstruction trying to reinvent the same solutions to similar problems.”
    -Cameron Sinclair
  • “Knowledge that can be expressed by word is available to anyone; therefore that knowledge is losing its value. However, it has become more important for us to have the tacit wisdom that cannot be expressed by words; for example, intuition, insight, imagination and creativity.”
    -Hiroshi Tasaka
  • “I call it innovation acupuncture. The idea is that if you want to create large change, don’t do massive projects and expect a society or a culture to come with you. You have to do these small, little interventions and you put one in and you see if that thing spreads. That little pin makes a huge difference. If it doesn’t that’s okay, we’ll put another pin in. And we’ll keep going until those pins eventually make you feel better.”
    -Cameron Sinclair
  • “Money is the raw material of politics. And politics is either the raw material of change or preserving the status quo.”
    -Ann Rutledge
  • “I am rich in terms of life, which I believe actually has more value, ultimately. I am not personally wealthy. But that is precisely – that actually gives me an advantage. Because when I’m able to talk with young people, particularly students and my staff, I’m able to say that I am not doing this because I am driven by wealth in the conventional monetary sense. I’m driven by a higher order of things that is more in the range of what this Japan-America conversation is all about. I believe at the end of the day, at the last day of your life, you only have your memories. You can’t take the money with you. So the question becomes to make sure that you have memories that reflect a quality experience and reverence for life.”
    -Bill Strickland
  • “We need to examine is what we believe about homelessness and other social challenges…If we think that homelessness is about altruism, then we are comfortable with gestures like giving people money, handing out a bowl of soup. That’s something that makes us feel better. It doesn’t change the situation of someone who’s homeless.”
    -Rosanne Haggerty
  • “I’m here to contend that sooner or later, it does not come down to money. Sooner or later, it comes down to people. And you can call me some sort of a hippie freak if you’d like.”
    -Scott Heiferman
  • P.S. – Check out the August 2, 2007 New York Times’ article Design Steps Up in Disaster’s Wake, by Allison Arieff. The article highlights the struggle of a woman trying to rebuild her and her family’s life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and how Architecture for Humanity came to her aid.

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