This wonderful video is based on a retreat we held in the Fall of 2007 titled Invigorating Communities, Designing for Inclusion. The video was created by BAYCAT Studio, where Innovators Network member Villy Wang serves as the President and CEO. Enjoy!


While on Miyakejima, we were introduced to a husband and wife team who own a small gift shop on the island.  They’ve endured quite a bit, including losing their home and first shop because of a volcano many years ago, only to have to leave Miyakejima after the 2000 volcano eruption for 4 1/2 years.  He and his wife returned however, and have opened a new shop.  After picking up a few gifts for friends and family back home, the gentleman agreed to sit down with us and share his story.


Before he evacuated, he had the foresight to bring his collection of photographs of Miyakejima.  An amateur photographer, he had taken beautiful photos of the island’s natural beauty, including sunsets, plants and the ocean, going back decades.  While in Tokyo, he had a number of photos printed as postcards, and sent them to many of his friends and neighbors from Miyakejima.  He made a special effort to send these postcards of home to many of the senior citzens.  Word spread about the postcards, and other residents requested to be on his mailing list.

The postcards helped this gentleman re-create his community in Tokyo, but in a completely different way.  Those who received his postcards told him that they waited in anticipation to receive the next card, and it played a tremendous role in keeping their spirits, and their hopes, high.  By the end of his time in Tokyo, he sent thousands and thousands of cards, at his own expense.

We were all so impressed with how what started as a simple gesture by just one person helped to create a real sense of community hundreds of miles from home and provided so many people with hope and happiness.


After the exchange program, the Learning from Disaster (see earlier posting below), finished, a small group had the priviledge of visiting Miyakejima.  After an overnight boatride, we spent a day and half visiting two schools, meeting with staff and members of the House of Wind (Kaze-no-Ie), visiting Ako port and meeting with fishermen, driving up the volcano to an observation area to look at the volcano’s damage up close, and meeting with citizens and local government officials.

Miyakejima is beautiful, and the damage from the 2000 volcano eruption, and an earlier eruption, caused great damage.  One of the things we were so impressed with was the great spirit and sense of hope expressed by everyone we met with, young and old.

Here are some photos from the visit.


The ship from Tokyo to Miyakejima


Fishermen unloading the day's catch


Junior high school students

The road up Miyakejima's volcano

The road up Miyakejima's volcano


Richard McCarthy presenting Mayor Hiroyasu Hirano with a market umbrella


House of Wind

Project Row Houses

Project Row Houses

I’m standing on the corner of Smith and Elgin, not far from Houston’s Third Ward. It’s May but with the heat and humidity it might as well be August, so I’m relieved when Tim Martinez pulls up, and I slip into his air-conditioned car.

Tim’s the Director of Development/PR at Project Row Houses (PRH), a neighborhood-based art and cultural organization located in Houston’s Northern Third Ward, one of the city’s oldest African-American communities.

PRH founder Rick Lowe, artist, community activist and member of the U.S.-Japan Innovators Network, was one of four Americans who participated in Invigorating Communities, Designing for Inclusion in November 2007. The two-day retreat in Kyoto brought 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.

In Kyoto, Rick gave a compelling presentation on PRH, explaining how the organization was established on the site of 22 abandoned shotgun houses, on the principle that art and the community it creates can be the foundation for revitalizing depressed inner-city neighborhoods. This principle was is in part based on the philosophy of German artist Joseph Beuys (1921 – 1986) who coined the phrase “social sculpture,” which transformed the idea of sculpture as an art form into a social activity.

Business has brought me to Houston, and I am eager to see PRH for myself.

As Tim and I cross over Freeway 288 into the heart of the Third Ward, he explains how home owners there have successfully staved off the condo developers that seem to have overtaken much of the city. “People decided the Third Ward is not for sale,” he says.

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The Third Ward was once a center of African American culture in Houston, with Dowling Street at its hub. We pass the Eldorado Ballroom, an unassuming art deco building that as a night club played host to the likes of BB King, Count Basie and numerous other blues and jazz luminaries until it closed in the 1970s. PRH renovated the ballroom and reopened it in 2003 and continues to make improvements.

We park in the shade under a large tree across the street from a row of white, single-storey wood buildings. These are some of the 22 row houses PRH uses for art installations and studios, as well as for their artist-in-residence program.  Seven of the buildings are used for PRH’s Young Mothers Residential Program, where single mothers 18-26 live in fully furnished updated row houses while receiving mentoring and finishing their education, Tim explains.

Crossing the street, we step into a two-story brick building, a former grocery store which now serves as PRH’s office. The first floor is used as gallery space.

Upstairs, I meet Cheryl Parker, PRH’s Executive Director. On this particular day, Rick Lowe is in Washington DC. He’s been invited to the White House to talk about the role of art in fostering community revitalization, Cheryl explains.

I ask Cheryl what of PRH’s current projects she find most exciting, and she immediately replies, “Home. Space. Place.” The exhibition, or “round” as she and Tim call it, comprises works by eight artists on the themes of home, identity, culture, struggles and perseverance, she says. PRH holds two major rounds a year, as well as a special program in the summer engaging local college students.

Tim and I step outside and in a few feet we are on the porch of the nearest shotgun house. Inside, I am amazed at how small it is.

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It’s really one room, with a door at the front and a door at the back. One, sometimes two, families lived in these spaces, Tim says. This house is being used as a gallery by artist-in-residence Andres Janacau, a student at the Glassell School of Art, he says.

The next several houses are being used as art installation spaces for “Home. Space. Place.” “It’s one house per artist,” Tim explains. “We want the artists to think of the houses as a blank canvass.”

In one house, the main space has been divided into several small rooms. The walls in one room have been papered over with red photocopies of a letter written by the artist’s grandmother, describing the effects of Hurricane Betsy fifty years ago.

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In another room, the same artist, Rashida Ferdinand, has covered the walls with sand and broken glass, echoing the destruction brought by hurricanes.

In another house, artist Lisa Qualls has strung clothes lines draped with white linen from wall to wall. “The idea here was to collect clothes line stories from local people” Tim explains – stories relating to hanging washing out to dry.

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In a third house, Cynthia Giachetti has created a ceramic quilt, reflecting the artist’s interest in preserving and protecting community.

We head back outside and Tim points out a series of new two-storey duplexes. Designed by Rice University architecture students, the clapboard houses echo the best qualities of shotgun houses and are being leased to families at affordable rates by Row House CDC, a spin-off from PRH which focuses on economic development in the Third Ward.

I ask Tim about future plans for expansion. “CDC is planning to do another development of duplexes about a mile away from here,” he says, as we make our way back to the office for a glass of water and much-needed respite from the heat.

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Eight of the 24 families that have moved into the current duplexes include artists as family members, which has helped new-comers engage in the community. “They wanted to be here because they wanted to be part of the community,” he says.

Our tour complete, Tim is kind enough to give me a ride back to my hotel.

Note to anyone traveling to Houston: Home. Space. Place. continues through June 21.
(Daniel Rosenblum)

As part of Learning from Disaster: Miyakejima and New Orleans, we organized a number of meetings for the delegation from New Orleans. Over the next week or so, I will be writing about some of things we learned.

On the first day, we met with the Ward Chief for Sumida Ward and heard about the preventive measures the local government and citizens are taking regarding potential flooding, fires and earthquakes.

On the bank of the Sumida River

On the bank of the Sumida River

Despite the fact that the last major flood in the Sumida Ward of Tokyo took place in 1958, the local government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government take seriously the possibility of flooding. Two rivers flank Sumida Ward—the Sumida River on the east and the man-made Arakawa River on the west.

Part of the flood control system

Part of the flood control system

The biggest problem is concentrated torrential rains that are contained to small areas. Even if the torrential rain doesn’t take place in Sumida Ward, it is vulnerable because water flows to Sumida Ward via the Sumida River. The result is overflowing sewage drain pipes.

Efforts are underway to separate the sewage system and the rain drainage systems, but to help alleviate the effects of rain, the Ward has developed a rain harvest system to lesson the load on the sewage system.

Neighborhood pump

Neighborhood pump

The water is not potable, but can be used to wash cars and water gardens, for example. There are over 100 facilities to store rainwater large and small. Small efforts include homes in the neighborhood have pipes to collect the rainwater and facets that residents can go to in their neighborhoods to access the water.

Large efforts includes the National Sumo Stadium, which has one of the largest rainwater collection facilities. The rainwater collected here is stored underground and is used to flush the toilets in the stadium.

Betty returned from Tokyo. She told me that the symposium on April 18 had more than 200 people in the audience, who were very engaging and active in the Q & A session. She also visited Miyakejima along with 3 participants from New Orleans. We will be updating our blog with stories from the exchange.

There is a blog entry (in Japanese) by Eri Goto, a reporter for Asahi Newspaper, one of the leading newspapers in Japan. She wrote about the site visits, which were conducted prior to the symposium. Participants visited several places including Sumida ward, a below sea level area in Tokyo and Sanya area, which is a community of day-laborers.

(In Japanese)



雑誌ファースト・カンパニーの共同創立者アラン・ウェバーの新著が本日発売されました。英語のタイトルは Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business without Losing YourselfRules of Thumbの直訳は親指の法則ですが、通常、経験則と訳されます。オンラインで検索するとgoo辞書には語源に関して、下記の解説が出ていました。

Rule of Thumb: 経験則{けいけんそく}、経験{けいけん}に基づいて得られた法則{ほうそく}◆ 【語源説-1】大人の親指(thumb)の関節間の長さが約1インチであるため、大まかに長さを測るときに用いられた。◆【語源説-2】昔、ビールの醸造業者がビールの温度を測る際に、親指をチョットつけてみた。この方法は衛生的でなく、温度計ほど正確でもない。しかし、醸造業者の長い経験に基づいたものであるから、それなりに正確である。




A:この本を書くことになったのは、ほとんど偶然の産物で少しだけ先見の明があったと言えるかもしれません。一年ほど前に大企業のCEOと重役50人を前にスピーチをしたときに、プログラムの最後にCEOが出席者全員に「今の米国で道徳的権限を持っている人は誰か?」と問いかけました。そこで皆シーンと静まり返ってしまったのです。きっとみんな頭の中でデータ検索をしてビジネスの世界、政府、宗教で一体だれが当てはまるか考えたと思うのですが、だれの名前もでてこなかったのです。そのときに私は、明晰なものの考え方や、究極的には仕事と生きるための新しいルールを生み出すための源が必要だと思ったのです。そう思った途端に私は、過去30数年にわたり - オレゴン州ポートランドで働いていた時代、ハーバード・ビジネス・レビューやファーストカンパニー誌時代、そして今わたしは自称「グローバルな探偵」として活動しているのですが - 貯めてきた記事、スピーチ原稿、エッセーが詰まっているファイルを見直しはじめました。そして私は今までに出会った卓越した人々と一緒に働き学んだことをまとめあげ、この本にしたのです。「経験則」がこの本のバックボーンとなっています。この時代が来るのをなんとなく予測していてこの本が生まれたという言い方もありますし、このような時代だからこそこの本が生まれたともいえます。



Q: 経験則41では、「もしも本当のリーダーになりたいのであれば、本気でリーダーになることに取り組め!」とありますが、今日のリーダーに一番欠けている重要な素質は何ですか?




アランの英文でのインタビューはまだ続きます。続きは、折をみて日本語に訳す予定です。アランの話はとっても面白いので明日の講演会が楽しみです! (Fumiko)