TAKANO Takako Received Dragonfly Award at PBE Conference in Flint, MI
エコプラスの高野孝子代表理事は、2019年11月8日に米国ミシガン州で開かれたPlace Based Education Conferenceで、長年にわたっての場の教育への取り組みに対して「ドラゴンフライアワード」を受賞しました。1990年代から、アラスカやミクロネシア、日本の農山村などを舞台に、その地で積み重ねられた自然と共生する知恵と技を基礎とした学びを構築してきたことが評価されました。
TAKANO Takako, executive director of ECOPLUS, received “Dragonfly Award” at Place Based Education Conference in Flint, Michigan in the US on November 8, 2019 for her two decades long efforts for the PBE. The organizer of the conference, Mary Whitman of Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, said that TAKANO was chosen because of her efforts on PBE through adventurous expeditions and other activities in many places in the world for long years.
The conference was organized by Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, GLSI, and was the seventh meeting with teachers, researchers, academics, administrators and students from 22 states including Hawaii and representatives from Japan, Canada, and Germany. The 335 registered attendees exchanged active conversations throughout the two days of 8 and 9 November.
Nearly 90 sessions throughout the conference reported a variety of examples of PBE in formal and informal education. In Michigan, PBE is now embedded in teacher education and more than 20% students are taking PBE courses, one of the professors said.
In the session, titled “What is a priority?”, TAKANO reported her research on programs in Japanese rural villages and on a Micronesian island. Many program participants from cities acquired foundational learning linked to values through direct contact with the nature, culture and people of the place.
ECOPLUS held organic rice farming workshop called “Tanbo no I-ro-ha” or “ABC in a rice paddy,” on 8-9 June, 2019 at Tochikubo village in Niigata, Japan, having 35 students from Waseda University in Tokyo.
Since we had very limited rain falls in May, some areas of rice paddies dried up and it helped weeds to grow seriously specially at our non-chemical, totally organic paddies. Students waled into the paddy with bare feet and used fully opened hands like as rakes to clear weeds.
Paddies were filled by water thanks to the rain since Friday evening but in most of the paddies the soil was so solid because of long dry condition that it was difficult to push fingers in the soil and we needed to pull out each weeds. Started the work at 9 am on Sunday, it took 4 hours and more to finish two rice paddies which size is over 1,000 square meters.
Beside weeding in rice paddies, villagers gave them lectures, and a specialist conducted nature tour. Through those students had a chance to feel the relationship between nature, life and community. They left comments like, “I strongly leant the true meaning of to live”, “I understood the hardship of farming”, “I should have more appreciation on food”.
ECOPLUS hosted a group of students from University of Michigan from 19 to 20 May in Minami-Uonuma for their learning on the relation with environment, life and culture through experiencing rice planting, weaving and other activities.
On 19th, they strolled around the village of Tochikubo which is located on the slope of around 500 meters elevation. They were deeply impressed by the scenery of mountains covered by white snow and young green, saying “this land might be so expensive.” They also encountered an old lady who was drying mountain vegetable called “Zenmai.”
On 20th, they experienced traditional rice planting by hands. They screamed a bit while they put their bare feet in the muddy soil of the paddy but later they acquired how to plant young seedlings in line and they finished the work in three hours.
On the last day, 21st, they came back to the city area, “Shiozawa,” to learn about the local ramie cloth called “Echigo-Zyofu,” which has over a thousand year history. Specialists from Echigo-Jofu technique preservation association demonstrated how to get fibers fro the skin of the plant, how to dye the yarn for patterns, and how to weave. Some of the students experienced actual works by their hands.
Through the three-day stay, they seem to deepen the understanding on the relation with life and nature, like getting fuels from the forest, drinking water from the spring, making the water system running around all the terraced rice paddies.
On 26 and 27 May, ECOPLUS conducted “a weekend farming workshop; rice planting” in Tochikubo village in Niigata Japan. Under the limitation of lodging space, we had eight participants from Niigata city and Metropolitan area.
We had water shortage caused by extremely small snow in previous winter in 2016, and low temperature and wet condition in 2017. This year we had enough snow as same as usual years but temperatures went up after March and it melted snow substantially. Farmers are worrying again the shortage of water.
On Saturday, we started planting seedlings in a smaller paddy which has around 800 square meters. Those paddies which have been growing rice without any chemical materials, the area was filled with so many creatures, like tadpoles, dragonflies and butterflies.
Thanks to the strong sunshine, surface of the mud is very warm. We set 4-6 seedlings in one position 1 centimeter under the surface.
One of the participants was came from Thailand but she was from the central part of big city, Bangkok. She and his Japanese husband were so good at planting works although it was the first time for them.
At the dinner so many dishes using wild vegetables just harvested by the chef from their hills were appeared. Some were boiled and mixed with sesame source or vinegar source, some were fried as “Templa”. We enjoyed the gorgeousness of the life in the mountain.
It was also very nice weather on Sunday and one of the participants succeeded to see the beautiful sunrise at 4 o’clock in the morning.
After finishing rice planting using one hour and so, we had open air lecture from Mr. FUEKI Akira, a veteran farmer. He explained that in old days when the paddies were much smaller and narrow, they conducted rice plantings one paddy to next one moving water from upper paddy to lower one. He also taught that normally 20 pesticides, weed killers or other chemicals were used for rice growing in one season but for this totally organic rice paddy he uses no chemicals. Because of this, he needs to weed by hands at least three times before harvest in each paddies.
Seven students and two chaperons fro Yap island, Micronesia, have arrived at Tokyo in the morning of Sunday, 11 March and were greeted by Japanese young volunteers. The students will stay in Japan for 10 days to learn about environment, like garbage and waste water issues in Tokyo and in rural area.
The study tour was organized by ECOPLUS, a non-profit organization based in Japan, with the support of Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund, United Airlines, Patagonia Japan and other organizations and citizens.
They departed Yap in the very early morning of the day and changed the plane in Guam. When they reached to the Tokyo international airport, 14 young Japanese were waiting for them. The temperature in Tokyo was like 10 C or 50 F. Many of students were saying it was a bit cold. They were given warm jackets and ride on the bus to the Tokyo Central Youth Hostel.
After checking in to the youth hostel, they took a walk around the area to observe the difference and similarities between Japan and Yap.
Professor NAKANO Kazunori of Nihon University joined them at 3:30 pm and gave then a hands-on lecture how to manage the quality of waste water from houses. They got sample water from the river next to the hostel and did experiments to filter those water through gravels, sand, and charcoal.
It was quite dense and long day for Yapese students but they were still so excited.
The day 3 would be ‘Big business day.’ Students started to have a lecture at Maeda corporation, a global construction company which once build fishing harbors and large freezers in Yap. The company provided them a overview of environmental issues in general and then moved to their cases in their development activities.