It is getting bearable during the summer evenings now and it is almost the end of August.
Around this time of year it makes me think "Winter is coming". Is it because I was born in Tohoku where the winters are long?
Lots of festivals were held all over the place this summer.
Today's theme is "Fukko-jin (people of reconstruction) 3".
I'm happy to introduce these "Fukko-jin" who are working hard for their hometown.
For the third time in this blog I will introduce someone:
A member of Ishinomaki 2.0, Mr. Gota Matsumura
He was first introduced by Aoki who was in charge of Ishinomaki's blog.
Here is the link for previous report. -->http://kokoropress.
I interviewed him on August 16th after "Stand Up Week" and Ishinomaki's Kawabiraki (river festival)
By the way, do you know the meaning of the 2.0 in Ishinomaki 2.0?
I am ashamed to say that I didn't know its meaning.
But Gota-san explained it to me.
It was taken from the internet and there are two meanings.
1. A new version --- as a gesture of not turning back
From the idea of "web 2.0"
Initially everyone in Ishinomaki wasn't very good at expressing their view.
But after the disaster, it was necessary to talk to others to survive and transmit information such as:
"Where is there a soup kitchen" or "I've heard he or she was alive".
He wanted this situation to continue, so he used "2.0" hoping to express the idea that everyone will continue to actively communicate.
*Web2.0 --in the past, the flow of information was one way and fixed to content that was created for the page. But these days everyone can transmit information through websites by using social networks like facebook and so on. The "2.0" is a change.
Now we know what "2.0" means, so let's talk about "Stand up week" then.
The second "Stand up week"
Here is the link to the report that introduced it before. -->http://ishinomaki2.com/
This year's theme is more "community-based" than last years.
There were many kinds of projects, and I participated in three of them.
Machizukuri (community renovation) symposium - chatting night -
There was a community renovation in Ishinomaki around June last year. At the time, there were lots of construction committees, like how to make levees and roads.
However Ishinomaki 2.0 thought "the spirit of urban development is innately human" and started brainstorming about people's feelings. Moreover, this symposium was an idea of Ishinomaki 2.0 from the outset as a way of "involving people without connections in Ishinomaki".
Last year guests were invited, those people along with the local people had serious discussions. This time it was useful to just have people meet and chat. Instead of formal places and discussion much more casual locations were used.
Also, one of Ishinomaki 2.0's themes is "using the spaces affected by the disaster for the future" There were 4 locations the symposium was held at, each one at a various space.
"chatter night" is not held in a meeting place, rather more casual locations such as shops and clubs.
"This time, while active at the national level we also included the local media and invited young people to go on a platform and give casual presentations."
I participated in 2 other events, the first theme was the "Womens Association" where we met at Snacks, a local bar. The second theme was "Local Power NOW2" that was held at the Social Welfare Convention Building. In my previous introduction the atmosphere was calm and both presenter and listener were relaxed.. Here is the link for the previous blog → http://kokoropress.blogspot.
"Open Ishinomaki" a newly adopted project
Local shops will put photos from the past in front of their stores so that people can see the difference from past to present.
→There are currently 33 businesses participating. The shops prepare about 20 images from their founding, after the tsunami, during the reconstruction, and the scenery around it. Ishinomaki 2.0 made a poster from those 20 pictures and they hung it in front of the stores during the project. There was also an event on the 29th of July called "Open Ishinomaki Tour" which had people walk around the streets of Ishinomaki.
"There was a stigma that each shop in Ishinomaki would only accept previous customers. However, such a stigma will change through the hanging of these photos"
"Yukata Block Party"
"Yukata Block Party" was held July 31st starting in dry goods stores with dress fittings and then at night live jazz could be seen. It was a lovely party.
Matsumura said that "the objective wasn't only to attract local people, 'There are a lot of dry goods stores in Ishinomaki' but until now had not been seen as an asset of Ishinomaki." So the goal was to make them one of the appeals of Ishinomaki.
→In the past, people used the Kitakami river to get to Kyoto returning with rolls of cloth and china. So instead of selling rice and produce, dry good stores flourished.
The dry-goods stores in town were formed because of the trade routes provided by the seacoast. this event was able to be held because of the dry-goods stores' history in Ishinomaki.
Seeing people wearing Yukata (Japanese summer kimono), I forgot the hotness of summer and felt cool.
I think it is really great that we can see Japanese traditional clothes: Yukata, all over the place.
After the "Kawabiraki" and "STAND UP WEEK"
We prepared more than last time by notifying people of the upcoming events. By having orientations for the locals and participating at events as well as announcements in Tokyo.
It had been busy till the day before.
"ISHINOMAKI 2.0 always makes snap decisions." said Mr. Matsumura looking back on the events with a laugh.
However, it is true that there were more local people than last year at the event!
In addition, as Mr. Matsumura said "the number of participation was less than before the earthquake (It was 100,000 before the earthquake, 50,000 last year, and 70,000 this year.), but the density grew because the site was smaller.", there were lots of locals surprised by how crowded it was saying: "It's been a while since there were this many people at Kawabiraki."
Ishinomaki was also famous for fireworks, it was know for "firing off the most fireworks in all of Miyagi Prefecture."
"It was common to shoot off 20,000 fireworks into the sky"
In the past fireworks were fired off downstream of the Kitakami River farther from the city center. After the disaster, the location of the fireworks display was moved closer to the city center along the banks of the river.
Matsumura said that "After the disaster, the display was downsized to 5,000 fireworks due to the new location, which was much closer making for a much more intense experience"
Me: "What kind of events would you like to do next?"
Mr. Matsumura; "I'd like to further cooperation with other regions. For example, I'd like to do something interesting with not only Kesennuma and Fukushima, other cities within the disaster area, but also various other regions."
To people who try to do community renovation;
Not only in my hometown, but also in other parts, the young always yearn to go to Tokyo. However, I think there are many attractions at the local level. So, I'd love to do something for my hometown!
To people who want to make their hometown prosperous;
I got a message from Mr. Gota Matsumura who is an Ishinomaki Fukko-jin (people of reconstruction).
"Start by finding peers"
I think to brainstorm and discuss with peers leads to new discoveries and it will lead you farther than acting on your own.
I think Mr. Matsumura was also alone in the beginning. But now, he has many peers. Not only that but there are also many people who participate in the events who are not only from Japan but also from all over the world.
"It is important to listen to people who have already done something. I think emulating them is good!"
To people who think copying is uncool; I think everyone starts by emulating someone before they do anything themselves.
Here is a closing message from Mr. Matsumura.
"new ways of connecting people
new ways of involving people"
ISHINOMAKI2.0 Gota Matsumura
Mr. Gota Matsumura,
Representative of ISHINOMAKI 2.0.
He takes a serious approach to community renovation.
He is a person who wants to liven up Ishinomaki by involving lots of people to do interesting and benevolent deeds.
I think more and more people will be involved in Ishinomaki in the future.
Don't miss the successes of ISHINOMAKI 2.0 and Mr. Matsumura who stands at the center of community renovation!
Thanks to Mr. Matsumura for his cooperation with the interview.
special thanks : Megumi and Dominic