Vision

To help transition Japan to a peace promoting post-carbon country while enjoying every step of the process.
僕のビジョンは、祖国日本で、平和文化を育みポストカーボン(Post-Carbon) 社会を促進してゆく事です。
化石燃料や原子力に頼らず、他国の資源を取らない、
自給自足な国へのトランジションを実現させてゆきたいです。

Monday, June 24, 2019

【UK, Totnes Talk & Workshop】June 25th Talk & June 28th Workshop

If you are curious about what I have been up to, check out my update post here!

Below are some events I will be doing this week in England.

 

Peace & Permaculture in Japan
With Kai Sawyer

7pm Tuesday, June 25th
At the Barrel House
Sliding scale gift at the door

Please join us for this very special evening with one of Japan’s inspirational peace and permaculture movement leaders.

There’s so much happening in Japan. Kai will share his experience with post-Fukushima renewal and acts of compassion, miso-making in the House of Councillors to spread probiotics in our politics, the Peace and Permaculture Dojo, and impermaculture.

Kai is founder of Peace and Permaculture Dojo and Tokyo Urban Permaculture, is a practitioner of gift economy, and teacher of nonviolence, mindfulness and the Gift Ecology.

Organised by Totnes REconomy Project and Transition Town Totnes. 

For more info, email Jay Tompt - jay(a)transitiontowntotnes.org

EVENT PAGE LINK HERE







The Gandhian Iceberg and the Gift Ecology
a deep dive workshop for change makers,
with Kai Sawyer


Friday, June 28 9:30-4:30pm
REconomy Centre and Leachwell Garden

Booking is essential as space is limited.
Email
jay(a)transitiontowntotnes.org
 
Cost: Kai graciously accepts what you are happy to gift so that he can continue to share and facilitate for the benefit of humanity.
*One suggestion is a massage therapy session that evening. :-)

The Gandhian Iceberg is a model for those committed to "being peace" and co-creating a nonviolent culture where all-life can thrive. in this workshop we will explore this simple but profound model composed of three parts: satyagraha (courageous action inspired by love), constructive program (collective practice of living together), and self purification (deep inner work). We’ll also explore:

* adventures in the world of giftivism (the practice of gift economy and living in service)
* ‘Integral non violence’, permaculture and NVC
* how to be "moved by love" rather than fear and anger
* what all of you are moved by, what challenges you are facing in life, and explore how to be more empowered and joyful on this exciting journey.

Kai is founder of Peace and Permaculture Dojo and Tokyo Urban Permaculture, a practitioner of the gift economy, and teacher of permaculture, NVC, and holistic systems-level social change.

Organised by Totnes REconomy Project and Transition Town Totnes. 

For more info, email Jay Tompt - jay(a)transitiontowntotnes.org

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Kai's Permaculture in Japan 2019 UPDATE

It's been awhile (as usual) that I've given an update in English about what I've been up to, so here it is! Most of my articles are in Japanese at Tokyo Urban Permaculture.


INTRO
My work is a mix of permaculture, Nonviolent Communication (NVC), integral nonviolence (inspired by the Ghandian Iceberg) , Zen and mindfulness (Plum Village tradition), and gift economics or giftivism (inspired by nature, Goenka's 10 Day Vipassana, Service Space, and everyday heros).

I focus on Japan because I felt a need, an opportunity, and I had a calling after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in 2011. While I'd love to spread the awesome happenings of Japan (impermaculture, natural farming, peace activism, simple artful living, etc), I've come to accept that I can't do more than I can do. If you can help on the media front and/or translate, drop me a line at tup.pollinator(a)gmail.com

Let's start with 2018 accomplishments and celebrations!!!


CHILDREN'S PERMACULTURE BOOK

Last year after about 3 years of creativity and drama, we finally published a children's permaculture book! Based on our first book, Urban Permaculture Guide, and infused with inspiration from the Whole Earth Catalogue, its my usual mix of permaculture, NVC, mindfulness, and giftivism. Beautiful art and I'm just amazed at how it turned out!

If we find the right people, we might be able to put it out in English.

 

The cover is a compost mandala that my friend Wakana Kawamura drew. A beautiful illustration of how kitchen "waste" is transformed by different microorganisms and worms, finally turning into vegetables.



Another dear friend, Niky Roehreke, created wonderful art pieces for each chapter (right side "Edible"). Left side is by the designer and is about the three permaculture ethics, EARTH CARE, PEOPLE CARE, FAIR SHARE.



Because we want children and adults to take action (not just read the book), we came up with meaningful fun activities that are quite radical for Japanese. This page is guerrilla seed planting titled, "go throw seeds without telling any adults".




Another one of Wakana's illustrations for the page "From Exchange to Gifting" (about the gift economy, aka gift ecology).



We wanted to make a book artistic, fun, while cultivating the foundation for permaculture thinking. This page is about various forms of energy.

It is a 144 page art piece and homage to permaculture!


I'm quite proud of our first permaculture culture book that a different team co-created with over 400 people involved called, The Urban Permaculture Guide.




Here is a bit about it: Japanese Urban Permaculture Guidebook is published!!!!


PEACE AND PERMACULTURE DOJO in Chiba prefecture



The Peace and Permaculture Dojo is my first land-based project and is located in Chiba prefecture (two hours by train from Tokyo). It is an old abandoned homestead (Japan is plentiful in this resource) of 0.9 hecters or 2.2 acres. We have been fixing the Japanese timber-framed house that is over 100 years old and slowly regenerating the soil with a method called daichinosaisei which literally means "earth regeneration". Daichinosaisei is spreading like wild-fire in the Japanese permaculture and natural farming circles. Some day when I'm motivated enough, I might write about it! But, basically, it's about creating healthy soil ecosystems by digging vertical and horizontal holes, filling them with interwoven biomass and porous tiles, and spreading lots of bamboo charcoal for microbial habitat. One of the passionate leaders of the movement, Takada, says its based on what farmers and landscape architects knew as common-sense before the US cultural reeducation after world war 2. Daichinosaisei is a lot about seeing the earth as a living system and taking care of air flow and water flow (veins) beneath the surface. I'll stop there for now, it's super deep!


Just a few recent highlights at the DOJO

  • Transitioning from a dictatorship (by me) to a cooperative model. Finally!
  • We ran out of money. Finally!
  • Last year I took on four youth and a family of five (and two goats) for my first batch of interns
  • This year, I'm hoping to have 2~3 interns for five months of training in permaculture, organic farming, NVC, mindfulness, and social change
  • We are going to have a monthly Day Of Mindfulness practice, and regular morning meditations
  • Starting to make a basemap for the site so we can do a proper permaculture design
  • Going to get more serious about daichinosaisei
  • In addition to our 6-day NVC trainings, we are going to have more activist trainings like a 2-day community organizing workshop, and a World Shift training
  • We wil also host a Permaculture Design Course for the second time

Although I am focused on training Japanese, if things work out, I'm happy to have non-Japanese to help out and experience neo-traditional Japanse living. I guess its just timing, matching needs and gifts, and how little extra work it will be for me! I can't even keep up with emails.

You can read more about it in my past blog posts CLICK HERE (link to all Dojo related articles)



COMMUNE 2ND ROOFTOP GARDEN in the heart of Tokyo



This was an experiment to create an urban permaculture garden in the heart of the Tokyo youth fashion district (Harajuku/Omotesando). The building was not intended for anything on the roof, so we started by climbing ladders, carrying wood to make a floor (when we first arrived, we were stepping directly on the foam insulation facing the sky), and lifting bags of soil on our backs. The project started with a worm bin, then I was invited to teach about urban permaculture, then we said let's make a garden! We are also doing monthly permaculture themed community lunches that features the seasonal harvest (little bit).

It's still a longways from the urban oasis I dream of, but despite my sporadic involvement, its still alive! Hoping to revamp the project and get more regular involvement, especially the fashion and tech-driven youth. Transforming consumers to producers.

The space is semi-public, and it's a bit tricky to invite strangers up there, but if you have skills and want to be involved for a few months (commitment makes a big difference), you can try dropping us a line at tup.pollinator(a)gmail.com (we are all super-active volunteers so our communication can be slow and sporadic!).

Commune 2nd Official Website (our project is not featured because it is underground)




NONVIOLENCE COMMUNICATION TRAININGS

What does it take to create a world of active peace?

A culture of integral nonviolence?

A country of people who are devoted to caring for each other, and living as a society that works for everyone?


Those are some of the questions that lead me to start the Peace and Permaculture Dojo, and experiment with NVC practice retreats.

A team of NVC trainers and I have been holding 6-day NVC trainings for youth and activists twice a year. Inspired by the NVC Leadership Program (now on hiatus), these have been deep explorations into nonviolence, authenticity, and empathy. We have also been incorporating cooking together, chopping wood, taking out the humanure bucket as a way to root the NVC training with living nonviolently.

This year, we are going to add two more trainings. A seven-day training with an assitant program much like the NVC Leadership Program. And a social justice and diversity themed NVC retreat with the former lead trainer of the NVC Leadership Program, Roxy.

Although the NVC Leadership Program no longer exisits, it was a magical community experiement in nonviolence, and I really felt like I started to taste the essence of nonviolence. These retreats are both to expand our ecosystem of peace activists, and to bring us back to the consciouness of nonviolence.


ECONOMICS OF HAPPINESS MOVEMENT: from a global economic system to localization


This is a whole can of worms so I won't go into much detail, but I'm working with director of Local Futures, Helena Norberg-Hodge, and long-time Japanese activist, Ooiwa Keibo, to build a solid vbirant localization movement that can transcend the tsunami of the global economic system. This has been an evolution of my activism in Japan which started with the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, climate change, then issues of war and US bases, and now the whole global economic system! My role in the activist scene in Japan has been organizing and training youth (there are very few of us out there!), and creating a more holistic social change culture.


The pieces that I'm integrating into this is
  • post-Fukushima nuclear meltdown Japan
  • US occupation in Japan (US-bases, post-war treaties undermining the Japanese constitution, and heavy US influence in Japanese politics)
  • efforts to change our pacifist constitution, specifically Article 9
  • the recent shift to actively develop and sell weapons
  • political apathy and one-party rule (Liberal Democratic Party)
  • hyper-consumerism
  • privitization of public services (most recently our water system)
  • widespread abuse of youth and women, particularly what we call "power harassment"
  • disempowerment and subordination
  • disconnection

For more on Economics of Happiness, check out this book and website Local Futures

BYRON BAY GATHERING (Feb 2019)
I was part of an awesome team that discussed the future of the global localization movement (sounds like an oxymoron!). We discussed what we mean by "localization",  sticky issues such as terminology and modern technology (specifically block-chain and cryptocurrencies, AI,  Google/Facebook), and how we can foster a vibrant movement that is relevant to everyone. We also explored the possibility of creating a Schumacher College inspired education center that engages with the global economic system and politics.

The people who gathered were very inspiring, and challenged my preconceptions and understandings in many ways. Particularly Camila from Brazil and Manish from India. Its sometimes hard to remember that the Western worldview is not a universal worldview, and many of the challenges of our times have grown out of the Western cultural experiment (like Cartisianism). Anyways, check out the profiles of the characters that gathered. Really awesome stuff!

Big Picture Activism for The Economics of Happiness


MINDFULNESS AND BEING PEACE


What more to say?

Change yourself, and the world changes

This year, we are having monthly Day Of Mindfulness practices in the tradition of Plum Village. Many of us are also vipassana meditators so there is talk of having regular morning sits.

Mindfulness is the foundation of all of what I do, so I'm trying to create a regular community practice to cultivate that energy in me and in our community. It's so easy to get busy, frustrated, depressed, and unhappy when diving deep into the tragedies of violence and oppression. So, its essential to have an oasis of peace in our hearts, and in our community where we can take refuge.


TOURS (aka activist trainings)

As a way to refresh my mind, reconnect with fellow activists, and train Japanese activists (at least that's what I secretly call them), I organize two overseas trips.

One is to Schumacher College in the UK, to spend time with Satish Kumar and experience holistic education.

The other, my favorite project, is a permacultture-themed tour to the Pacific North West of the US. We go to the Bullocks Permaculture Homestead, where I was an intern for two years, then to Portland and Seattle. In Portland, we experience the City Repair movement and all the amazing permaculture themed social change projects like an ecovillage by homeless people (Dignity Village). We also go to Seattle to see some of the large-scale permaculture projects like the Beacon Hill Food Forest.

Some of the tour participants continue to work closely with me.


IN CLOSING

There are lots of other things, like raising a beautiful child, but I'll end here for now.

Here are a few online resources in English for more information on what I want to spread in the world

1. ABOUT ME (a bit outdated)


2.  Living the Gift Economy




3. TEDx talk called "An Invitation to Stop"


4. The Permaculture Podcast : Peace, Permaculture, and The Gift with Kai Sawyer

Thanks for reading

moved by love
Kai

Saturday, February 9, 2019

2.13.2019 Big Picture Activism for Economics of Happiness@Byron Bay

Wow, I haven't posted anything in English for so long!!!!

I'm in the midst of making an update but its been a several weeks project.

Anyways, I'm going to Australia tomorrow to participate in a retreat with some amazing people. There will be a public event in Byron Bay so if any of you are in that area, or know of anyone who might be interested, let them know.

For more information and tickets click HERE



Join us for a unique, interactive evening in the company of activists from 5 continents who are working towards system change. Learn about what’s underway in India, Brazil, the USA, Japan, Denmark, Mexico and other parts of the world, and why people from such different cultures and geographies view localisation as a promising strategy for meeting the greatest social and ecological challenges of our time.



The main organizer

Helena Norberg-Hodge – Australia/UK




A pioneer of the local economy movement, a respected analyst of the global economy, and a leading proponent of ‘localization’, for which she was awarded the prestigious Goi Peace prize in 2012 and the Arthur Morgan award in 2017. Helena also earned the Right Livelihood Award, or ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’, for her groundbreaking work with the people of Ladakh, which aimed at finding ways to meet the modern world without sacrificing Ladakhi cultural practices and social and ecological values.

Helena has authored and co-authored numerous articles, essays, book chapters and books, including: Bringing the Food Economy Home; From the Ground Up: Rethinking Industrial Agriculture; and her seminal book Ancient Futures – which has been described as “an inspirational classic.” This book, together with a film of the same name, has been translated into over 40 languages, and has sold half a million copies.

She is also the producer and co-director of the multi-award-winning film The Economics of Happiness. She lectures extensively across the world, teaches regularly at Schumacher College in the UK, and appears in media worldwide.

Helena is the founder and director of Local Futures and the International Alliance for Localization. She is also a founding member of the International Commission on the Future of Food and Agriculture, the International Forum on Globalization, and the Global Ecovillage Network.

For more information and tickets click HERE

Friday, March 23, 2018

Peace and Permaculture Dojo UPDATE 4 Spring 2018

Hi All
Its been a while since I wrote an update in English!
Cherry blossoms are starting here, and the frogs are singing with energy.
I've been quite busy learning how to be a dad, contemplating about life, and chopping wood to keep my wife warm.


I've also been busy growing the Peace and Permaculture Dojo with an amazing group of people. The DOjo is inspired by the most inspiring communities I've experienced, places practicing peace and sustainability from around the world.
 This project is still in its infancy but its an interesting experiment and I'm learning so much! I think of it as "peace infrastructure", where we incubate a more resilient and powerful movement for peace and sustainable living. 

Here are some articles from last year (haven't had time to update)
We are currently doing pilot projects such as
1. 3 month training program where people start by building their house, planting their food, learning facilitation and community living skills, and experimenting with culture and ecology. We're aiming for it to be a model for holistic education exploring the 3 S's (Soil, Soul, Society) through the 3 H's (Head, Heart, Hands).
This will be our first year and we have 4 people in their 20s, and a family of 5 with two goats. A small but big experiment in peace and sustainable living.


2. Hosting regular lectures and workshops by leading thinkers, designers, and social change-makers, all gift economy based


3. 6 day nonviolence retreat - through Nonviolent Communication we attempt to move from power-over dynamics to power-with dynamics, and work on inner transformation as well as understanding fundamentals to integral nonviolence (both principled nonviolence and strategic nonviolence), and structural oppression and change.
We've had quite a diversity of attendees such as activists, community organizers, teachers, a political strategist, a politician, a lawyer, an executive consultant for a major bank.

4. Sudberry School, a school where children practice direct democracy, and adults treat children as equals.

5. Earth regeneration technique called daichino saisei, a movement growing in popularity in permaculture circles here. Basically about getting air and water to move underground, which will develop a healthier microbial ecosystem, which will restore the ecological vigor of the land.

6. Natural rice farming. And with that, koji-making, miso making, and soy sauce making.
A lot more is happening but its hard to write it all. If you read Japanese you can follow us on my Japanese blog Tokyo Urban Permaculture or look up パーマカルチャーと平和道場。

We are a bit over-capacity so we're still not ready to take on most people wanting to get a tour or wanting to stay (e.g. WWOOFing). We don't have anybody consistent able to receive and respond to emails or messages at the moment (my email box is at 12,000 unopened emails!). Its also particularly hard to host visitors who can't speak Japanese. But, if you have something to offer and the timing is right, it sometimes works out.
Hopefully in the future, we can make it more accessible to non-Japanese speakers but it takes time to grow roots and that is where our energy is focused. Roots before Branches.

Monday, October 30, 2017

NOV 4th in OAKLAND "Peace making activism in Japan after the Nuclear Disaster"

日本語はここ

My super amazing activist friend is doing a workshop in the Bay Area!

Check it out if the time and space align for you.


Peace making activism in Japan after Nuclear Disaster
~ Social innovation through craftsmanship: Nuclear power plants, war, health recuperation, and healing ~

Join Takafumi Tomita, a long term anti-nuclear, peace, and environmental activist, as he shares his activism experience in post-Fukushima Japan.

He hopes to share his perspectives from his experiences on his political actions, activities to protect children from radiation, and practices of revitalizing traditional food to protect and strengthen mind and body, and to exchange ideas in current forms of actions for “social innovation and craftsmanship” that inherits the spirit of Ghandian Charkha movement. 

His talk includes varieties of his approach in peace-making activism such as
• health recuperation camps,
• food as medicine for radiation protection,
• miso-making and plant dyeing as a way to create local resilience and self-sustainability independent of nuclear power plant and war economy,
• farming as a place for nuturing hope from the ground
• community organizing through creating a place for workshop
• creating Earth Day at House of representatives office in Japan to invite politicians to the place making

Date: Nov 4 (Sat)
Time: 17:00 ~ 21:00
Place: A PLACE for Sustainable Living (1121 64th Street Oakland, CA 94608)
Schedule:
17:00 ~ 18:30 potluck (optional)
Please bring a dish to share and your own plate/cups/utensils if you wish to join the potluck :D
18:30 ~ 19:00 Opening/Check in
19:00 ~ 21:00 Talk and Dialogue


This event is operated under a gift economy with a suggested donation of $ 5-10 dollars, which will be 100% gifted to the PLACE as our gratitude for hosting the event. Please pay this in advance on the Paypal. 
TO PRE-REGISTER: Make a payment through PAYPAL and include a note: "PEACEMAKING" along with your full name and email if different from your paypal account. 
PAYPAL

As for Taka's time and labor, he wishes to invite you to be part of his on-going activism by supporting him in a way you feel inspired to by free-will participation fee, which may offer at the event.  
He currently have his philosophy on gift in Japanese on his website but google translate does an OK job communicating his intention, so please refer to the site to read on his philosophy on activism if you are interested. (we are working on English translation so, hopefully this will come soon). CLICK HERE for the Japanese version.



ABOUT TAKA

Takafumi Tomita is a peace and environmental activist, author, and practitioner of Japanese traditional handicrafts, healing and care, fermentation, and calendar. While based in Osaka, Japan, he has travelled all over Japan holding many workshops and events to share his knowledge and passion on topics including natural and plant dyeing, miso making, relationship of our body and mind, and alternative calendars (lunar and 13moon calendar). He practices and shares plant dyeing, miso making and other traditional handicrafts as his core embodiment of peace activism to empower community and build local resilience. 

You can see some of his products at here

His website (only in Japanese)

Please feel free to share the event with your friends. 


I look forward to seeing you at the event. 
All the best,

Eri

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

【YOUTUBE】Living the Gift Economy ギフトエコノミーを生きる



日本語の投稿はここ
*映像は字幕付き

I had the opportunity to visit Australia at the beginning of this year. I was on my way to Tahiti to teach on Peace Boat (NGO in Japan that does educational cruises and anti-nuclear and peace work). I did a few workshops in my usual donation-without-obligation style, and was rewarded with this lovely video.

Thanks so much to Cecilia Macaulay for organizing the workshops (I appreciated how much you stretched to be an organizer!), and Friendly Farms production for making this video. Hope to visit Australia again!!! Maybe at the end of 2018 or 2019.

Here is more on the gift economy and how I hold it  →  GIFTivim

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Peace and Permaculture Dojo update part 3: Earthen Wall workshop

Update on the Peace and Permaculture Dojo project Part 3

日本語は【TUP道場】土壁塗りワークショップのレポート(写真と動画)


This is the third piece on the Dojo project (see below for context and previous articles)

Peace and Permaculture Dojo in Japan part 1

Peace and Permaculture Dojo Tour and Culture (April 2017)


We’ve been working on designing and redesigning (its always dynamic) the human ecology of the Dojo project and Tokyo Urban Permaculture, so the physical progress has been limited as planned. The social permaculture aspect of this project is really quite fascinating, and that is my particular interest, but I won’t get into that right now.

We are now working on the earthen walls tsuchikabe. We’re also trying to figure out where to put showers and the grey water system, and I’m super slowly working on another compost toilet.

Below is a bilingual video of our first tsuchikabe workshop facilitated by Kyle who is super awesome and thorough. My explanation on the other hand is not perfect/accurate, but I think you’ll get the gist of it. My aim is to get 60% of what I say right!


For more pictures of the workshop and process see Tokyo Urban Permaculture



Also, below that is a wonderful write up by one of the participants Max Durayappah-Harrison, who is a PhD student in anthropology studying about Japanese agriculture. Copied from Isumi Life Style Laboratory

*****

Since late last year there has been much activity taking place in one particular corner of Chōjamachi, Isumi.

Renovations were begun on a kominka (a traditional-style, wooden-built Japanese home), with the plan to eventually make it the center of a retreat at which peace activists can explore permaculture and other practices aimed at achieving positive change in the world.
One of the core objectives of the project is the building of community through working with and for the benefit of others.

The process of repairing and reconstructing the Permaculture and Peace Dōjo (as the kominka is known) therefore incorporates events at which members of the general public are able to participate in the renovation, learn about the project and meet others.

In early May, I was lucky enough to be a part of the earthen plaster workshop held at the Dōjo. In this post, I’d like to explain just a little about what we got up to.

The day began at 10am under brilliant sunshine with participants making their way down the tree-lined path that leads to the secluded Dōjo, entering the building and seating themselves on the newly-laid wooden floor that provides an inviting meeting and greeting place.

The coordinators of the Permaculture and Peace Dōjo project, Kai and Nao, had invited Kyle Holzhueter, a ‘straw bale builder’ and earthen plasterer, to lead the day’s activities.

Kyle began things with a short lecture on the history and intricacies of plastering in Japan. This included an account of how many of the motivations for particular design choices in Japanese building are founded in the nation’s geology (the prevalence of earthquakes necessitating ease of repair, for example) and culture.

He also introduced us to some of the properties of the material that make it practical and efficient as a resource in construction. This was brought home to me particularly clearly when he revealed that the plaster we would be using had as a primary constituent the decades-old plaster that had been stripped from the very walls that surrounded us.


Kyle, delivering his lecture

Once the mini-lecture was concluded we then set to work on the various tasks necessary to prepare for the application of earthenware plaster. These included:

•Removing loose and damaged plaster from the walls. Dusty work!
•Breaking down the old plaster and mixing it with fresh soil sourced from nearby.
•Adding water and straw to the mixture in order to bring it to the correct consistency that would allow it to bind when applied to the wall.

While all of these tasks were in themselves interesting, perhaps the most fun was had in mixing together the various ingredients of the plaster.

In order to do this on a large scale, a tarp was laid out and four walls created so that we could step inside and stamp, walk and dance it smooth.

And it is no exaggeration to say that the plaster was danced smooth, as there was an impromptu Bon Odori performance that took place, complete with music!


Breaking down soil and recycled plaster for the mix

 
The mixing station/stage (sans dancers)

It was around midday when we all broke for lunch. As is normally the case at events held at the dōjo, in order to encourage sharing and foster a sense of comradery everyone brought with them one item of food to distribute amongst the whole group – potluck style.

This resulted in a great array of foodstuffs, many of which were handmade by those that brought them. From organic onigiri to homemade bread, and pickled vegetables to fruit salad, it was a veritable feast!

Lunch also gave everyone the opportunity to chat and get to know each other a little better, as well as grill Kyle further on the art of earthen plastering. I wouldn’t say I was uneager to get back to work but it was certainly difficult to pull myself up and away from the delicious food and banter.


Healthy food and hungry workers

Once the afternoon arrived, it was time to start applying the first base-coat of plaster to the walls. Carried out either by hand or with the aid of a trowel, Kyle showed us how to work the dark, coarse, muddy mixture against the bamboo slats that lend the walls structure.

This was perhaps the most satisfying and yet difficult part of the job, as for every handful of plaster I managed to attach to the wall, another handful seemed to fall to the floor.

It appears to me at least, that it is one of those tasks that can look incredibly easy but in fact requires hours of practice in order to get the angle of your hand or the trowel just right and the pressure against the slats correct.

Nevertheless, with a little instruction we managed to complete an amount we could all be proud of.


Kyle applying the plaster to the bamboo slats of the wall

So, with mucky hands and some tired muscles, I left the Permaculture and Peace Dōjo with a greater understanding of a little of the work that goes into renovating a kominka and the satisfaction that can be had in working with others outdoors.

I’m happy that living in Isumi will give me a chance to hopefully meet many of the friends I made that day again, while also seeing the dōjo project develop and grow over the coming months.
It’s incredible learning of the resources that surround us, and how sharing time and knowledge can build something amazing.



From this… …to this!
(Max)

Original article at Isumi Life Style Laboratory

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Peace and Permaculture Dojo Tour and Culture (April 2017)

Come join me on a tour of the sprouting Peace and Permaculture Dojo!

This is where we are at six months into the project (here is the first English article about the Dojo). I just got back from a three month Asia and Australia tour so my friends have been moving things along. We have had an amazing daiku (carpenter) who has been intensely building a relationship with the kominka (old Japanese house). The 100 year-old wooden house is tilted, so everything that he fixed is fixed to the angle of the tilt. WOW! The building rests on stones as a foundation, and after so many years, some of the stones have sank, and the wooden building has tilted.


What we are growing here is peace culture. Japan is rapidly shifting from a pacifist country toward a more robust aggressive military power. US pressure on Japan to increase military capacity has been increasing and the Japanese military industries have probably been lobbying pretty hard for revamping their industry. This is a historic shift since the Japanese Military Empire was A-bombed by the US Military Empire. Our hope is that, like Gandhi's ashrams, the Possibility Alliance in Missouri, Casa De Paz in California, Plum Village, and many other places to practice peace, this can be part of the global peace infrastructure during the Great Turning.

Even without that, we are facing consistent high rates of suicide, school/business bullying, sexual harassment, depression, apathy, depopulation of rural areas (ghost-towning of Japanese villages), exponential growth of national debt, an unprecedented nuclear meltdown and growing hibakusha population, super-aging society, and loss of traditional skills and wisdom to name some of the big ones. Not a very hopeful time to be born in Japan....or the world. So, we're here to change that. I mean come on, is this the best we can do after thousands of years of human evolution?!!

It's also important for us to remember and renew interest in Japanese wisdom and design. There is something quite strange about spreading permaculture in a country that has had thousands of years of practicing it. At the same time, I can get more young people excited about self-sufficient (village
-scale) ecological living if I call it permaculture than if I call it "traditional Japanese living." There are lots of other reasons for calling what we do permaculture, but I won't go into that for now. What I will say is that, we are developing a culture that is strongly influenced by the values and worldviews of the liberal West Coast (USA), and the beautiful relationship-based culture of rural Japan.

Below is a video of the traditional community dance ritual called bon odori practice session we did at the Dojo. A group from the "Bay Area of Japan" (shonan, Kanagawa prefecture) reclaimed this tradition, made original music and movements based on peace and ecology, and have been spreading it throughout Japan. The group is called imajin bonbu (Imagine Dance Group ← Imagine is from John Lennon). We just finished the floors of the Dojo, so as a celebration event, we had a bon odori practice session and the founding of a local bon odori dance group.

*the video is in Japanese but toward the middle you can watch people practice/dance. The dance is not a performance dance, so practicing and dancing is pretty much the same. Anyone can join and leave at any time, and some communities will continue dancing for days. I heard that people go into a trance.



Here are some pictures from the DOJO



bon odori 


potlucking


the sign was made by two girls and it says 平和 (peace)


 what era is this?!!
(the typhoon felled the Sugi tree)


the TUP cameragirls Jun Jun and Nana
Browns Field macrobiotic living center staff are in the back
We have an amazing crew of people renewing Japanese culture


VISITING / HELPING
We're still no ready to officially receive guests, but if you have time and skills that we need, and we happen to be able to respond to your email/message, then something could happen. All we have right now is a roof and floor, compost toilet is almost done, and a rocket stove. Unfortunately, we don't have enough committed people on the ground to receive guests at the moment, and nobody lives at the Dojo yet. I want to say YES to everyone but we don't have the capacity to comfortably host yet....and every once in a while things work out so its not a definite NO either. I guess its always a MAYBE.


The IDEAL characteristics of a volunteer at the moment are
  • can speak basic Japanese: most of my team and the locals can only speak Japanese
  • patient: our response time is slow, and we aren't always able to respond (feel free to remind us)
  • self-sufficient: can take initiative and do a project, we also can't feed people yet like a WWOOF host, and it's basically like camping.
  • friendly: as in likes people, because we have lots of people coming through!
  • low or no expectations: the key to happiness
  • can stay about a week: it takes energy and time to orient people so realistically, a week is about how much time it takes for someone to "help" us. If you can commit for months that would be amazing, and if you can commit for life.....now we're talking!

Next year (2018), we will hopefully have more structure (social and physical), and be able to host people! 

Love you all, may we all embody peace in every aspect of our lives

For most recent events and picture check out the Dojo FB page

Sunday, February 19, 2017

FEB 25 Zen Permaculture Workshop in Melbourne

From Melbourne Permabliz website

Togetherness Design: Zen Permaculture workshop with Kai Sawyer

Date(s) - February 25, 2017
Time - 11:00 am - 3:00 pm

What is it like to do meaningful work every day, without asking for money, floating through life on a bubble of love?

Now you can meet someone who’s been doing it since 2011, with beautiful results: The amazing Kai Sawyer is in town!

This is a Half-day presentation and active workshop gifted by Kai, with a shared lunch.

Kai is the founder of Tokyo Urban Permaculture, and is the inspiration behind its initiatives.
He runs workshops on the gift economy, systems thinking, deep mindfulness, NVC empathetic communication, and how to escape the salaryman trap.

Kai went to school at the illustrious Tokyo University. If you’re Japanese, you’ll know how impressive this is! That’s because studying there means you get to run Japan. Let’s hope he does!

The presentation will be on creating lively networks of support, rather than trying to do things alone. It’s also on Empathetic Communication. Just a slight shift of perception can dramatically transform our world, side-steping the communication malfunctions that are usual for we humans.

It’s at a private house, and places are limited. If you wish to attend, just fill in the form below and we’ll confirm your place and then reply with all the details.


What’s happening

11.30 – 12.30 We will gather together in a house in Fairfield (not far from a train station!) The first hour Kai will present on creating a social ecosystem that you love being in. He shares insights from his year of living in a food forest, his work with City Repair in Portland Oregon, and the ways of being encoded in Japanese traditional culture can make a more convivial, thoughtful life possible.

12.30 Lunch, Networking. Please bring a healthy dish to share!

1.30 – 3.00 Empathetic Communication Experience. Kai has done this workshop all over Japan, and says it just ‘tickles his soul’ every time he does it.

You know how when someone leaves dirty dishes around and you are upset? It’s not about dishes. What is it about? Sometimes we often don’t even know ourselves!

You can create around yourself a network of effective allies, to make your lovely visions a daily reality. WWOOf Volunteers, the share economy, are all there for you.

With the resources and nature (flawed and wonderful) that you already have, you can create a home and work environment that will take care of you, freeing you up to do good work for the world

Kai will also share some of his own projects to inspire your own: his year of living in the Eden-like food forest, sleeping in a fully-furnished bedroom without walls. Crowdsourcing a book, and recently being gifted enough to create the Permaculture Dojo: renovating a traditional farmhouse for co-working on thrilling projects, outside Tokyo, fueled by shared dinners and shared dreams.

Cost: Workshops are gifted, complelety free of obligation to give back, with no set donation amount. There is the option to gift Kai with whatever you would like him to have, to enable him to continue this work.
A message from Kai to Permies:
Gift Economy and donations write up
http://livingpermaculture.blogspot.com.au/p/gift.html *

*I would love for people to read this before they attend


Empathy space (aka NVC Needs Poker)
This is an activity to share our struggles and celebrations (to whatever depth we want to), and just receive empathy. It’s not about “fixing” or judging or analyzing or strategizing, and its all about just being with what is. We will gently go beyond the words, beyond the “problem”, and into the deeper needs or yearnings of each of us.

It is a simple design (easily replicable) to create the conditions necessary for us to give and receive empathy, and all the beauty that unfolds from there. One of the most effective approaches to transforming our conflicts, relationship challenges, and unwanted habits. Getting to the heart of whats important, in a short amount of time. No experience necessary, just your presence and willingness.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing,
there is a field. I will meet you there.”
-Rumi

Short and lovely video on Empathy by Berne Brown:


A note about social permaculture
NVC and mindfulness has taught me how to engage with conflicts peacefully and on a good day, joyfully. It has allowed me to shift my focus from “being nice” to being more real and authentic in a loving way. As my teacher Miki Kashtan says, maximum honesty with maximum care. And I’ve learned how much our worldview and language creates conflicts without even our awareness, and perpetuates the domination paradigm that we participate in unknowingly.
In my journey I have visited a few amazing permaculture sites and intentional communities where human relationships (conflicts) made it the main reason people left. Sometimes plants are easier to understand then humans! Very tragic.My main interest is how to cultivate a healthy human ecology, where everyone’s life (and needs) is considered equally important. I’ve been trying to understand the invisible structures that have a large impact on our collective behaviors, how to transform oppressive cultural systems (inside and outside of us), and how to regenerate our nature of compassion and generosity.
"I want permaculture to help all people thrive, not just the privileged but those who are deeply trapped in violent social structures (e.g. African Americans, refugees, children in Fukushima, etc). That is the design challenge!"