Forth A-Launch Event

The forth A-Launch event was held on February the 8th and was led by Dr. Nakatsuka of the Graduate School of Agricultural Sciences. The topic of this A-Launch talk was Student and Community Action (chiiki tsukuri). Dr. Nakatsuka started by posing the question of what chiiki tsukuri "was". He argued that the conception of chiiki tsukuri predominantly revolves around the idea that local revitalisation is best achieved through local groups and individuals coming together with the purpose of improving their local area. However, he argued that it was important that locally based activities drew on extra-local forces. It was here that he suggested that students could play a vital role in contributing to chiiki tsukuri. In this regard, his talk focused on the role of students in chiiki tsukuri, and the means by which they could become involved. For those students already involved in chiiki tsukuri this was a chance for to think about their work.

Dr. Nakatsuka argued that places and people are similar, there can be times when the atmosphere or mood is good, and times when it can be bad. However, it is important that people involved in chiiki tsukuri are positive and enjoy themselves. Thus, if you are not enjoying yourself, you do not have to push yourself too hard.

After highlighting the importance of ensuring that those involved in chiiki tsukuri enjoy themselves, Dr. Nakatsuka outlined what he thought characterised a vibrant local area: 1) there are a diverse range of actors who wish to make a difference to their local area; 2) there is lively exchange; and 3) lots of people wish to see the development of an attractive and interesting area.

Dr. Nakatsuka went on to highlight how there are already many local events that students are involved in, but he argued that there needs to be some thought related to both the purpose and means of these events. Both the means and aims of events require their own different types of thinking. Neither is more important than the other, and both require careful consideration.

The revitalisation of a local area, Dr. Nakatsuka pointed out, is not something that can be done by one person. It is important that everyone becomes involved in chiiki tsukuri and that at regular intervals people come together. However, in relation to those involved in chiiki tsukuri, there will usually be a “core group”, an “active group”, a “peripheral group” and finally “outsiders”. It is perhaps important that the core group undertake the majority of the work. However, in order to ensure that the number of those taking part in activities increases, if someone is to leave the group, for any reason, it is important to welcome them back warmly when they return.

It was pointed out that there were groups would felt that because their numbers were decreasing they could no longer organise in community activities. In this case, Dr. Nakatsuka argued, it is important to lend support to other organisations and groups. There are lots of organisations and activities that student groups can participate in.

Finally, Dr. Nakatsuka said that it was important to remember that local revitalisation will not occur overnight, and that such revitalisation will take small incremental actions and steps.

After the talk by Dr. Nakatsuka a number of participants raised points for further consideration. One of these points related to the need for students to consider as to whether their activities actually contributed to chiiki tsukuri, or were in-fact a burden on local people. Furthermore, students had to make sure that local people did not have unrealistic expectations in relation to what the students could achieve. Finally, the students were asked to consider how a core group could encourage other people to take part in community activities.

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Graduate School of Agriculture, Kobe University
1-1 Rokkodai-cho, Nada, Kobe, Hyogo 657-8501, Japan
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