More love, less isolation. Golden balls, not nuclear rods. A better future for everyone.
Please have a look at my recent TEDxSeeds presentation about making Japan a world leader in living cities.
This TEDxSeeds presentation, with English and Japanese captions, looks at how Japan can become a world leader in living cities. Despite Tokyo being the world’s largest city with a history of poor design, there are many opportunities for creating plant life and wildlife habitat. My goal for next year is to work with city governments, corporations, community groups, railway companies, and others to plan and implement creative public spaces that connect urban life with nature.
It is exciting to read about how Seoul, Korea’s Mayor Oh Se-hoon is remaking his city into a green leader. Accomplishments include reducing air pollution by 20% in just four years. I like how Seoul uses attractiveness and energy efficiency as success metrics.
I am impressed that Seoul is connected an attractive city with economic growth and international competitiveness. May Oh is quotes as saying, “If the city is attractive, people, information and capital flow in. This in turn creates economic re-vitality and it also creates a lot of jobs.”
This forward looking attitude seems lacking in Tokyo’s city government. Why does Japan’s largest city cede environmental leadership to smaller cities like Yokohama and Nagoya? How will Japan compete globally in the next economy with last century’s technology? What will it take for Tokyo to abandon the status quo and become a leader in new urbanism? Tokyo has so much grassroots energy and creativity for brining nature into the city and making streets livable, yet so little government and corporate support.
On Friday the Olympics committee will announce in Denmark which world city will host the 2016 summer games. It is exciting that Tokyo used sustainable urbanism as a core feature of its bid: re-using existing facilities, keeping the games within a small urban radius, and showcasing their best-in-the-world city transit system.
Still, it will be hard to compete with Rio de Janeiro, which would be the first South American host, and with Chicago, which has Obama and Oprah promoting its bid. It is interesting that despite the abundant official displays around Tokyo touting the bid, I have not heard much popular enthusiasm.
After starting this post, I read a Japan Inc column by successful expat in Tokyo Terrie Lloyd, who writes that low public support for the Tokyo bid is a big negative factor in the evaluation. Apparently a poll in February showed only 25% of residents “strongly favor” the bid. Given the exclusive focus on promoting Tokyo’s eco-city attributes and financial resources in their bid, perhaps Governor Ishihara and his committee did not even realize that the International Olympic Committee considers popular enthusiasm an important selection criteria.
In my research on Tokyo green space and sustainable urbanism, I often see the disconnect between the most well intentioned leaders and public participation. Master plans and visions are one thing, but creating change requires the participation of a very capable and resourceful population.
Certainly Japan is not unique in this shortcoming, but it seems that so much potential is wasted by ignoring the potential of popular participation. What do you think?