Project area:Iwaki City (Fukushima Prefecture) / Tokyo
Promoting the Treasure
of Fukushima to the World
Things I have realized since I became a victim
In one stroke after the quake the word "Fukushima" became known across the world.With the constant transmission of negative images, a group of locals have decided to undertake efforts in the promotion of the treasures and all the goodness of their town. This is a group based in Onahama, Iwaki city, Fukushima prefecture,going under the name of "Community Activation Project MUSUBU". One of the members, Sayaka Suenaga, is also the representative of "ethicafe Ltd.", a company which sells Fair Trade coffee beans in the city of Iwaki. The support activities Sayaka has been involved in date back to directly after the earthquake, before the establishment of "MUSUBU".
"The day there was an explosion at the nuclear plant, we held a family meeting, and stayed the night shut-in at home, but when there was another explosion the next day, we decided "let's get out of here", and evacuated to my brother's home in Tokyo. But upon hearing from a close friend that they had received no supplies since the earthquake I decided to gather materials and return."
After making an appeal for supplies, a driver, and a truck on twitter,one hundred people gathered, and a truckload of goods and a driver were secured. Swiftly setting out for Onahama, the next thing was to find people who would cooperate with distribution, again through twitter. As a result, fifteen local volunteers equipped with gloves and masks came to her aid. After that, activities to deliver aid and prepare meals still continued, but the things that were needed gradually changed.On April 13, the aid group was dissolved for the time being, and the move to another initiative began.
"Not just focusing on restoration / regeneration support, I also gave consideration to the long-term revitalization of the community through our activities.In continuing to do these activities for the foreseeable future, I wanted people in the community to remember the name of our group, so I launched "Community Activation Project MUSUBU". As the name states (MUSUBU means "connect" in Japanese), the meaning can be extended to the idea of "connecting people,communities,and the world". Through the disaster I have become a concerned person and I strongly felt the importance of gaining the concern of people elsewhere too. While continuing to distribute information, I want people to keep an eye on what is happening in Fukushima."
From help messages,to messages of treasures
Wanting to transmit bright news from Iwaki to the world, "MUSUBU" has been organizing music events, and creating a "space" encouraging communication between the people staying in temporary housing. On June 26 at the Onahama Shiome Cultural Exchange Center, a place suffering serious damage from the tsunami, the event "Hooked on Iwaki Vol.1~ Let's clean up Onahama Shiome Cultural Exchange Center and enjoy music together!" was held. It began with a clear-up of the space where mud still remained and where, of course, there was still no electricity.
"The words "Hooked on" mean "to lose yourself or get wrapped up in something", but the message I hoped to convey through this event was that Onahama has taken a step towards regeneration. The venue of Onahama Shiome Cultural Exchange Center had suffered terrible damage at the hands of the tsunami, but the day before the event, we called volunteers to help clean up the mud, install an electric generator, and set up lighting in preparation for the event the next day. The musician "Kururi" who ten years before had shot a promotion video on the coast of Iwaki City was also one of the participants, and even though it rained heavily on the day, a great number of local people gathered."
The words and images of "Fukushima" appearing in the news fill us with anxiety and sorrow. However, behind these images there are people getting on with their lives,there is culture, and the creation of new things. What "MUSUBU" transmits is "a message conveying the treasure of Fukushima".
"I think "MUSUBU" is always trying to do "something exciting". Rather than being "for an individual", or "for someone in trouble", we are placing importance on whether the things we are engaged in are exciting or not. Through this activity we hope that all whom get involved can share in this excitement, which can be positively promoted to others."
(The interview was conducted on July 8, 2011 in Iwaki, Fukushima)