Archive for the ‘storytelling’ Category

The last three weeks of August went by very quickly.  Anime scripwriter Dai Sato was in town along with Ryan Morris, his interpreter, for a couple of weeks to teach Anime Production/Scriptwriting to 25 high school students. Here are some summary videos of the classes he taught during those two weeks. Learn about 起承転結 (Ki-Sho-Ten-Ketsu) and 鳥獣戯画 (Cho-Ju-Gi-ga), Japan’s oldest manga. It is fascinating!

Also here is a link to Dai Sato speaking about how to create anime characters.

On the last day of the two weeks, the students divided into 5 groups presented their work at the auditorium. Here is a link to the 15 second previews that each group created. The preview was presented along with their story proposals. Dai told me later that he was intrigued that how all the groups had the notion of  fate/destiny embedded in their theme. He also thought that all story proposals dealt with the issues of coping with diversity and different values. He felt that groups made up of Japanese high school students would have come up with totally different theme and story ideas. Dai also had a chance to meet up with his old acquaintance, Justin Leach, also an IN member, who currently works at the Blue Sky Studios as a Senior Pipeline Engineer.  We paid a visit to Blue Sky in Connecticut and Dai was invited to speak about his work and the creative process to the storyboard department staff. Then we all took a tour of the studio.  Dai kept on saying how amazingly better the work environment is for creators like him in the U.S.  It was indeed a beautiful office space with huge windows overlooking a forest outside. There were ping pong tables and pinball machines, too.

Justin Leach and Dai Sato

Justin Leach and Dai Sato

During the last week of August, the Kyomachiya preservation group was in town after attending a symposium in Boston on historic preservation. The occasion was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of sister city between Boston and Kyoto. It was great to see Fusae Kojima again, a machiya owner and the President and Executive Director of Kyomachiya Revitalization Study Group. She was one of the panelists at the symposium we organized in collaboration with Kyoto Center for Community Collaboration (Machisen) last November at Japan Society. The symposium summary is featured in a new book titled Machiya Revival in Kyoto edited by Machisen. It just came out in July.  As part of the Innovators Network activities, we continue to support the Kyomachiya preservation group’s effort to gain further recognition abroad.

Last but not least, we have some newly edited videos of the Social Design Forum we organized with JIDPO (Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organization) back in February.  I highly recommend that you watch Valerie Casey’s video on Design Thinking especially if you are a design student.

Masaaki Ikeda’s video, which touches on the history of  social design in Japan, is also quite interesting if you heard about Michael Linton, who had designed the LETS (Local Exchange Trading System).



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Daniel Pink. Illustration by Rob Ten Pas

Daniel Pink. Illustration by Rob Ten Pas

Daniel Pink‘s book, Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need, will be the publishing company’s first imported manga!

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Changemakers: Make the Impossible Possible
February 27, 2008

Bill Strickland, President and CEO, Manchester Bidwell Corporation; author, Make the Impossible Possible: One Man’s Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger and Achieve the Extraordinary

Nana Watanabe, photographer and author, Changemakers: Social Entrepreneurs are Making a Difference and Changemakers II: Working as a Social Entrepreneur

Armed with his trusty slide show and 30 years of experience as a leading social entrepreneur, Bill Strickland shared his inspirational story to a packed house at Japan Society on Wednesday, February 27. The program began with an introduction by award-winning photographer and author Nana Watanabe, whose serendipitous meeting with a punk rocker-turned-social entrepreneur earlier in her career motivated her to seek out and publicize the efforts made by social entrepreneurs. Inspired by her successful first book, Changemakers: Social Entrepreneurs are Making the Difference, Japan Society invited her to photograph participants in the U.S.-Japan Innovators Network retreat in San Francisco in June 2006, where she met Bill. Deeply moved and impressed by Bill’s work, Nana profiled Bill in her most recent book Changemakers: Working as a Social Entrepreneur.

Bill Strickland describing his organization in Pittsburgh, the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild. ©Satoru Ishikawa.After being introduced and invited to the podium, Bill, a man standing around six feet-five inches tall and whose presence commands attention, began his presentation much like every other presentation he has given: with a joke. He has one presentation and he knows it and openly jokes about it. He says he feels sorry for those who have chosen to listen to it yet again, but deep down you know what he’s about to talk about is no joke. It’s this disarming and charming attitude that puts an audience at ease and allows his powerful message to reach the hearts and souls of people every day.

Bill began his slide show by describing his organization, the Manchester Bidwell Corporation, and the numerous job training and community arts programs they provide to disadvantaged children and adults. Inspired and, as Bill puts it, “saved” by his high school art teacher, Bill knew from the time he entered the University of Pittsburgh as a probationary student that he wanted to transform the lives of the people in his neighborhood. He knew that the first step in achieving his goal was to build a center worthy of the people he wanted to help. It would have to be a beautiful structure with tons of natural light, beautiful displays of artwork, flowers and a huge fountain in front of the building, because according to Bill, “When you put people in a world-class facility, you create world-class people. When you put them in prisons, you get prisoners.” This was his first step in killing the “spiritual cancer” infecting the poor people living in the ghetto. As a result, he had a student of world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright design and build his center, which as we all found out, became the scale model for the Pittsburgh Airport.

The second ingredient of Manchester Bidwell’s recipe for success is the cutting-edge education people receive. Not only are students given a sense of the possibilities, but also a sense of control over their lives through music and arts programs. Additionally adults are learning trades such as pharmacology, culinary arts, and horticulture that can be applied to finding jobs that Manchester Bidwell has smartly identified as hard to fill by corporations in the greater Pittsburgh area. Connecting music and ceramics with pharmacology might seem like an odd paring, however Bill’s ability to see opportunities where others might only see obstacles allowed him obtain funding and expand Manchester Bidwell to the point where it is today. His relationship with the late Senator John Heinz brought his center a million dollar kitchen and top-notch culinary arts program, and contacts with Hewlett-Packard birthed a state-of-the-art computer lab and visual arts program.

Bill Strickland and Nana Watanabe fielding questions from the audience. ©Satoru Ishikawa.After expounding Manchester Bidwell’s philosophy of light and beauty as a way to lift people out of poverty, Bill explained his new goal: 100 centers in the United States and 100 around the rest of the globe. Centers have already been built in San Francisco, Cincinnati and Grand Rapids, MI, and new centers in places like Philadelphia and New Orleans are in the planning stages. Internationally, Bill was recently in Israel and sat down with Jews and Arabs where they discussed a plan for a new center that would target a diverse group of Jewish and Arab children and adults as well as immigrants to Israel from Russia, Ethiopia and around the world. Conversations about building centers have also begun in Ireland, South Africa, San Paulo and Costa Rica

Bill wants his book Make the Impossible Possible to be a source of inspiration and guiding light for people without hope. He wants a number one book for the media attention and financial backing that a best selling book can bring to help him communicate his message all over the world.

The lecture was followed by a Q&A session, reception and book signings by Bill and Nana.

[photos by Satoru Ishikawa]

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Wednesday, February 27
6:30 pm
Japan Society (333 East 47th Street, New York, NY)

Bill Strickland, Nana Watanabe

Over the past 30 years, Bill Strickland, a leading American social entrepreneur, has been transforming the lives of thousands of people through jobs training center and community arts programs at Manchester Bidwell. He and his staff strive to give disadvantaged kids and adults the opportunities and tools they need to envision and build a better future. Keying off his new book, Make the Impossible Possible (January 2008, Currency/Doubleday), Mr. Strickland, a master storyteller, shares his inspirational story from growing up in a Pittsburgh ghetto to running a nationally-recognized organization that successfully balances social action, artistic creativity and entrepreneurial acumen. More recently he has worked with the Society’s U.S.-Japan Innovators Network, a multidisciplinary network of innovative leaders committed to creating a better world. Nana Watanabe, an award-winning photographer and author of Changemakers II: Working as a Social Entrepreneur (in Japanese), which includes Mr. Strickland, will preside. Followed by a reception and book signing.

Tickets $10/$8 Japan Society members/$5 students & seniors
Purchase Tickets at www.japansociety.org

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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.


November 29, 2007


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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Hello, and welcome to the Japan Society’s U.S.-Japan Innovators Network staff blog. I’m Andrew Stuerzel, Program Associate of Global Affairs, and I’m here to kick-start what we hope will be an interesting, informative and stimulating resource for people committed to a better future. In short, the U.S.-Japan Innovators Network is a multidisciplinary network of innovators committed to making a social impact through retreats, symposia, exchanges and virtual media. The Network enables participants to step outside their everyday lives, connect with people, collaborate with them and catalyze the future.

Marty Ashby performing a jazz piece during the Innovators symposiumRecently we’ve been discussing a number of topics here at Japan Society, such as sustainable design, revitalizing communities and essential skills for social entrepreneurs like improvisation and storytelling. Last month we held our first-ever public symposium titled Improvisation, Creativity, Collaboration: Fueling Innovation in the 21st Century. The symposium participants Marty Ashby, Dan Pink, Hiroshi Tasaka and Alan Webber highlighted the importance of jazz and “right brain” qualities like improvisation, empathy and joy. What really hit home for me was this theme of “ego management” in the boardroom discussed during Marty Ashby’s conversation with Alan Webber. According to Marty ego management is just another way of checking your ego at the door. Know yourself, embrace you strengths and weakness and celebrate the strengths of the people around you. Anybody can lead at any moment. Don’t impose you will on others because if you do it will only lead to inharmonious moments, which leads to stalled collaboration and improvisation. In Marty’s words, “You just have to swing man.”

Listening to Marty, my mind drifted back to the Innovators Network’s last retreat in January 2007, (IN)SIGHT: Bridging Gaps. There, retreat participant and founder and CEO of Architecture for Humanity Cameron Sinclair talked about ego management as well, but in a different sense. Cameron talked aboutBridging Gaps retreat in Tokyo Architecture for Humanity and how it serves people in developing and war-torn countries. His take on ego management came down to this: Don’t go in thinking you know the best solution. Ask the people what they want and need, let the people be collaborators in the design process and go from there.

It seems so simple doesn’t it? Let the end-user help design what they need. Imposing your own personal designs, plans, structures and ideas is the way of the past. Open source collaboration is erasing the lines between expert and your “average Joe.” By empowering people to step up and become part of the process you can start a cycle of empowerment within a community that changes the way they live forever.

Inspiration and genius can come from anywhere at anytime; from the kids playing soccer in an alley of some war-torn country or from the junior-level assistant you just hired.

Check you ego at the door, learn from those around you…and just swing.

A couple of quick hits before you go:

The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (2 East 91st Street, New York, NY 10128) is holding a great exhibition demonstrating how design can be a dynamic force in saving and transforming lives, at home and around the world. A couple of us from Japan Society visited Cooper-Hewitt recently and were really impressed by the innovative design solutions currently on display there. Check it out. On display until September 23, 2007. Here’s a little bit about the exhibition:

Design for the Other 90%

“The exhibition highlights the growing trend among designers to create affordable and socially responsible objects for the vast majority of the world’s population (90 percent) not traditionally serviced by professional designers…[It’s] divided into sections focusing on water, shelter, health and sanitation, education, energy and transportation and highlights objects developed to empower global populations surviving under the poverty level or recovering from a natural disaster.”

World population growth is increasing. Available drinking water is decreasing. Let GOOD Magazine put it in perspective for you in Drink Up: “The world’s water resources are becoming increasingly valuable–and strained. GOOD and the Office of CC put the mind-boggling numbers in perspective.” View Drink Up transparency.

And for those of you who think this water problem effects only developing countries you might want to read this article: US News and World Report, The Coming Water Crisis, By Marianne Lavelle and Joshua Kurlantzick. Here’s a little taste:

“In a nation where abundant, clear, and cheap drinking water has been taken for granted for generations, it is hard to imagine residents of a major city adjusting to life without it. But Atlanta’s water woes won’t seem so unusual in the years ahead. Across the country, long-neglected mains and pipes, many more than a century old, are reaching the end of their life span. When pipes fail, pressure drops and sucks dirt, debris, and often bacteria and other pathogens into the huge underground arteries that deliver water…America’s aging water infrastructure needs huge new investment, and soon.”

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