BLUE WING -WINGS FOR CHANGE- 「Next Changemakers」

Introducing the young Social Entrepreneurs who have the makings
to become the next crop of Changemakers

#nextcm #uedaharuka

Mothernet, Co., Ltd. Food Business CEO, Ueda Haruka

2017-06-13 21:00:00
NEXT Changemakers Series:Looking ahead, 10, 20 Years in the Future Every year’s rice planting project has a different theme. Last year, we asked the children to try and sell. With little or no sales training some kids went home with zero sales even after discounting down to 100 yen, but I wanted them to understand how unfair the reality of agriculture is; that you can’t just name your price. This year’s theme is the difference in yield between natural and conventional cultivation. The commonly accepted theory is that omitting pesticides from the equation does not lead to a drop in yield even after the third year of production. However, the object of this theme is not about ascertaining which is better. Looked at through an agricultural economics lens, Japan has such a low self-sufficiency rate that at some point we are going to have to start thinking about which is the more efficient. Is it really so healthy to have such an obsession for naturally grown produce? At any rate, I don’t want these children to grow into adults who dismiss the use of pesticides without having ever seen or touched a plant before. Food education is all about sharing ideas and experiences with the potential farmers of tomorrow. Thank you for reading our interview with Ueda . We will be introducing more next generation Changemakers soon so be sure to follow BLUE WING. #nextcm #ANABLUEWING #uedaharuka [MOTHERNET] Food Education
2017-06-09 21:00:00
NEXT Changemakers Series:Getting Family Around the Table Again, Every Once in a While I first realised the need for food education while studying in the Faculty of Agriculture at Kyoto University. I wasn’t overly interested in food until then, but the more I studied the more I identified problems with the current food system. The search for ways to give my ideas shape lead me to my mother’s hometown and to an encounter with some old ladies — and a bit of a wake-up call. My studies at university had probably been too heavily focused on pesticide and food additive safety, but down on their farms, the vegetables I tasted were the real thing. 90% of Japan’s countryside is mountainous and in towns like Chidu with restricted arable land space, farming is barely an effective way of life. Nevertheless, for many of its residents, farming has a purpose. Even from a social welfare perspective, using agriculture to improve their way of life is very important. Chidu ’s slogan “We Don’t Need Your Regional Revitalisation Here” tells you that this town has always been full of wit and energy. I share the town’s spirit to look after the wellbeing of its life and soul — the old women. A lot of our customers are working mothers for who getting a plate on the table is a big enough struggle. It would be a stretch to ask them to use our grocery delivery service every day. But when, on special occasions, they do, we want them to enjoy our produce with the entire family. Even if it’s only once a month, we want to get the family around the table again. It’s not about food economics, even though that’s the core of my study, it’s about sharing some of the happiness of the old women to create happy families. It’s less about scale and more about longevity. #nextcm #ANABLUEWING #uedaharuka [MOTHERNET] Food Education
2017-06-08 21:00:00
NEXT Changemakers Series:A Grocery Delivery Service Like No Other That’s perhaps the only way to describe a unique service delivering fresh vegetables from a little corner of Tottori Prefecture to the inner cities. Surrounded by the lush greenery of the Sendai River Headwaters, Chidu Town is one of the most beautiful villages in Japan, but it’s largely mountainous topography is hardly suited to running an effective farming business. But it’s here that Mother Net sources the produce for its grocery delivery service. And the farmers? the town’s old ladies, by no means professional farmers, but you wouldn’t think it. The values and objectives of this service are clearly different from the bigger companies. That much is clear when you meet its Food Education Business Manager Ueda Haruka, who having majored in Food Science Biology at Kyoto University of Agriculture, graduated to its Graduate School of Agriculture & Life Sciences where he is currently juggling his food education work with a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics. His work has so far taken him to Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe; even as far as France. He also runs a project mentoring young children in the ways of food cultivation raising awareness of the problems that shrinking towns like Chidu face. Join us in the next post as we catch up with Ueda, one of the next generation of Changemaker, to learn more. #nextcm #ANABLUEWING #uedaharuka [MOTHERNET] Food Education

Meet the other Next Changemakers

2017-08-30 21:00:00
NEXT Changemakers Series:Gaining Trust, Slowly but Surely The program’s early days were fraught with problems… Even with the Mayor’s support not everyone understood when a load of students rolled in from Tokyo and said they were going to “revitalize the region”. It’s not like we know all the correct answers. It’s how you solve the problem that matters. “Never run away” we always told them. If people get angry at you, take it in good faith, bow your head and try them again later. Trust isn’t gained over night; you earn it through little everyday actions. For some, this meant responding to a call in the middle of the night to fix a PC which then turned into a drinking session even though they had to work early the next morning. (laughs) Well that’s just one example. What I am trying to say is that there are no shortcuts; you have to deal with people head on. Sometimes you have to deliver harsh truths to people such as teaching people that in 10 years’ time, due to depopulation, their village will be a ghost town and that they are the only ones who can do anything about it. Imagine if that person is an aggressive-looking, middle-aged man. Honestly, it’s a nerve racking task (laughs). Whatever the task, I strongly believe that it’s important to stay firm to your beliefs. You have to go in there with the determination to tell them that if that’s the way they want it, then fine, you will leave, but if they want their village to have a future, they must work together with you. It’s then that the debates can be had and the work can start. In one homestead in Tsuwano, the work has turned into a long term project to engage the townspeople with many people participating every year. Some participants even try to set up a business in residence there afterwards. #nextcm #ANABLUEWING #hayashikenji
2017-08-29 21:00:00
NEXT Changemakers Series:The Project’s Birth, 4 Students off to Tsuwano Founding Base’s business model was inspired by Wendy Kopp’s “Teach for America”. Rated as the most popular NPO among job seekers by Google and Apple in 2010, it was a recruitment model placing top graduates from America in to 2 year teaching programs in schools in poorer regions. The credit it added to the graduates resume and the high regard it was given by top companies are what made the program so popular. Given that Founding Base’s mission was the circulation of people, information and finance within society, we thought that we could emulate this example. Our target would be young people aspiring to join top-tier companies. For a student, 1-2 years’ experience would give them a valuable leg up on the employment ladder and improve their future prospects. It started with four students. Originally we were only planning to take on one, but with so many enthusiastic candidates, it increased. They were selected based on how much they could grit their teeth and rack their brains in the face of unsolvable problems. We started the four off with a task to design a tourist map to improve communication with the locals. After all, in a town of 8,500 people you can’t just go around making friends with everyone (laughs). From there, they were left to devise their own ways to revitalize the area and methods to implement them. Despite the unaccepting, challenging nature of the environment, the four were too excited to let that bother them and had a great deal of energy. Two of the four are now company employees. Another set up a business there in April this year and spends half of the month living in the town. #nextcm #ANABLUEWING #hayashikenji
2017-08-28 21:00:00
NEXT Changemakers Series:A Momentous Encounter It’s not that I had an interest in “Regional Revitalization” to begin with, I just developed the desire at some point to effect change; change that would make others happy. My mother was always telling me from a young age to: “live for others”. Actually, I think it was a culmination of lots of things: a year abroad in Belgium that exposed me to environmental problems and various other stimuli, university research and of course my experience working for Ashoka Japan. In my 4th year at university where I was studying for a community studies major, I was invited to take part in a regeneration program for guesthouses in Nagano’s Shirauma. It was some time shortly after that, and a chance meeting with a Tsuwano resident who was friends with the mayor, that my connection with the town began. They set me up with an opportunity to pitch my Regional Revitalization initiative to him, whose response was, “this is great, go do it!”. This set up the meeting with the manager of the town’s city hall, Miyauchi Shuwa (presently Vice Chief of the town’s Tokyo office). Meeting him really was fate. To me Mr. Miyauchi is Tsuwano — that’s how important he was. It’s also around about this time that I met the person who set up Founding Base together with me, Sasaki Takashi and that the project set sail. In 2011, the year that the project got underway, Tsuwano’s population had shrunk to 8,500 people. Even in Shimane, a prefecture with the worst case of depopulation in the country, this was low. The fall had come as a shock to the town’s mayor who had resolved that something out of the ordinary had to be done. For me, the timing was perfect. Mr. Miyauchi was so passionate and focused that he easily got the townspeople onboard and was soon driving things forward. Hearing Mr. Miyauchi’s desire to create a town that his son would want to return to, I could no longer just sit on the sidelines. #nextcm #ANABLUEWING #hayashikenji