April 11th ~ Notes from Japan #3: Starting Points…Help Needed

I sit here a little broken-hearted this morning when last night I was just beginning to see some new clarity.  All I know is that I — and we — need so much help.  And it is not help of the usual kind, it is help in finding and using the starting point.  It is help in seeing how to work with what is already available.  It is help in seeing how to help people regain authority over their own lives.

Let me write my way out of my grief, speaking to you and perhaps having time by tomorrow to blog some about this.

I am at the KEEP in Kiyosato, a project for sustainable living started 65 or so years ago.  Beautiful, lovely people here who know how to host hospitable space.  Last night we began another conversation about Fukushima.  A month ago Yamamoto-san got in the KEEP’s bus and drove 250 miles to Fukushima and found 43 people to bring back here to this beauty.  He went because his heart was broken and he needed to do something.  A new set of relationships began.  Those people are mostly returned to Fukushima now, and much remains to do.

The KEEP is in relationship with one of many shelters there.  For better and for worse, they are in relationship with the biggest shelter which now houses 2000 people in some of the best conditions available.  It is a coliseum/sports complex.  One idea is to bring people here for respite — but when they leave, their space disappears and they have no place to which to return.  So, a nice idea, but not enough.  Everyday the combined governments of the region bring in rice balls to feed the 2000 people.  They all have food.  But for four weeks they have been eating only rice balls.  The three governments come in and take care of the people.

Deep grief.  Deep trauma.

2000 people is just too overwhelming.  Can’t even think about what to do there.  But what about smaller orders of scale.  When Yamamoto-san returns in a few days, can be find 10 people who have started to step beyond their grief?  Can those 10 find 10 others?  Can we find 100 people who, in these conditions can begin to regain authority over their own lives?

The people of Yamanashi — the prefecture around the KEEP –will take their turn at helping to feed people.  They can only feed them seven times.  Where is the limit?  It is not basic food stuffs — it is the hands to make it into meals and serve.  My grief shrieks, there are 4000 hands there.  And of course, many, perhaps most are in shock.  But some are ready to begin to move.

I think of meetings last week in Tokyo where people spoke about how it was for some 1 day, for others two weeks, for others still a full month before they could shake off enough of the trauma to begin to talk again.  To lose the glazed over look in their eyes.

Can we find 100 people?  Can the Art of Hosting hosts here now host them in conversations which support the surfacing grief and which gradually hosts the conversations of how they can begin to regain authority in their lives?  Can they become a self-organizing system within the contained chaos?  It would not be hard to find 25 people in Japan to send rice cookers so they could make their own rice balls!  Hell, if we knew that was what was needed, we could get 2000.  What is needed to support them in finding their way?  If we find these 100 people, how do we begin to work with them?  And if that is not the right idea, where is the starting point.  A starting point.  Almost any will do.  If a new reality is going to be created, it has to begin somewhere.

And if these 100 people began to organize life for themselves within the shelter, would they be able to step outside?  There’s talk about there not being enough coordinators for all the volunteers who want to help.  Hells bells, isn’t it these people who should coordinate volunteers who want to come to help?  Aren’t they the wants to lead in cleaning up in their homes?  65% of those in the shelters are in their 60s and 70s.  Perhaps they can not do as much heavy lifting – but there are thousands in Japan who can.  This is a time for partnerships.

There’s a sense here from our meetings this weekend that it is essential that Tohoku region and all of Japan be recreated in the new paradigm, not rebuilt in the old.  How do we all, all around the world stand with and support this recreating — so that we may learn and get courage to do it ourselves.  Some of you know the Berkana two loops — the sense here is that we must find a way to make the second loop, now.  And the pressure to just rebuild the old will always be there especially if those are the only images people can see.

I just need some help.  We need some help.  From this scant story, what are the pieces you all see?  Where would you start?  What would you pay to?  I keep adding names that I am sending this e-mail to, as I think of other friends who will have ideas here.

The disaster — which keeps on giving — is too huge to think of usefully as a whole.  At least I surely can’t.  But Yamamoto-san, a many of deep heart, will go again in a few days.  What would you advise him to be looking for?  From your perspective miles away, what noticing would you invite?  Where are the tender threads from which a new future can be woven?  How can a group of 100 begin to release a new aroma of possibility and hope for the other 1900 in their shelter?  How can this one shelter begin to step forward, finding those others who have stepped forward as well.

I go into a meeting with KEEP leadership this morning.  One of the questions is what can happen here? In the KEEP facility itself, occupancy is down to 30% of normal.  They have lovely space.  How can it help in this restoration? Could the KEEP become one of the FutureCenters needed for the Future?

Could it act like the Greenhouse Project and become a hub?  Could it, each week, invite people with expertise in different areas sacred to the recovery to come and think together and with people from other parts of Japan?  Could part of the future be born here — creating a place for people to share grief as well as possibilities?  Could the KEEP become a Hub.

Who else do you know that can help?

Gads, it is so good to know there are so many of you I can turn to — and more you can turn to as well.  So much is possible here now that was not possible before.  It is a tender moment where I flood back and forth from grief to possibility.  Something new wants to be born here and it will be messy and strange.  But this is the moment of new birth.

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