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Rainbow Bridge to Japan

March 3, 2010 1 comment

RAINBOW BRIDGE TO JAPAN _DRAFT, updated Sunday 14th March 2010

Proposal: This is a proposal to set up sister village/city links between communities/towns in the rainbow region of New South Wales, Australia and like-minded towns in Japan.

The focus of this link will be to promote peace and sustainability issues within the context of the Australia-Japan relationship.

This is in keeping with our mutual strategic interests in the Asia-Pacific, both short, medium and long term.

Goals:

  1. To foster better understanding between communities and people in our two countries, based on direct community-to-community links, including local government/shire council, arts organizations, educational institutions, NGO’s devoted to sustainability and peace studies and individual exchanges.
  2. To promote linkages between industry groups in the field of sustainability and eco tourism: eg linkages between Japanese traditional hemp industry and North Coast hemp; between Japan and north coast marine eco tourism
  3. To encourage cooperation on marine conservation issues
  4. To promote eco tourism and cultural tourism
  5. To promote friendship and peace between Australia and Japan

Background

Australia and Japan share may ties: economic, social and political.

Economic: Japan is Australia’s second largest trading partner.

Social (focusing on the rainbow region): There are many Japanese living and working in the rainbow region, concentrated in the areas of the sustainability industries, yoga, the arts and eco tourism. Lismore City Council already has a link with Yamatotakada, Nara Prefecture. Many artists from the Byron region have toured Japan (Wild Marmalade, Tommee) and artists from Japan have visited the shire (Goma, Spinna Bill). Most recently, a Japanese crew from the rainbow region were a key element of the recent cultural exchange exhibit Rainbow Dreaming, which featured at venues in the US last year, as part of the 40th anniversary of Woodstock.

Political: Both Australia and Japan are dynamic democracies in the Asia-Pacific, with a progressive role to play in the shaping of our common futures.

Current Situation:

The current impasse over whaling and the related issue of dolphin killings in Japan has led to a tense situation between Australia and Japan.

As you are aware, Broome (in West Australia) and Taiji had a sister city link. Broome cut this link due to the issue of the dolphin killings in Taiji.

The current environmental battles with Sea Shepherd and the Japanese whaling fleet in the Antarctic whaling sanctuary has also led to a mini crisis in Australia-Japan relations.

This matter has also been raised on a Govt-to-Govt level, with the Australian Govt indicating that they are willing to pursue this issue in the international court.

While all of the above strategies to protect whales and dolphins are important and valid in themselves, we feel a direct approach to Japanese people on these issues might be a good way to progress down the path of reconciliation and understanding.

The key to understanding:

One way to foster this reconciliation is to set up alternative sister village links, based on principals of mutual respect and shared values, especially around issues to do with sustainability and peace.

If Byron Bay, a beacon of progressive ideas, on the easternmost point of Australia, is able to set up this alternative ‘rainbow bridge’ to a community/village/town in Japan, this will greatly help the process of reconciliation. Further, as Byron was till recently a whaling town, Byron is uniquely placed to explore issues to do with promoting the internationally popular whale-and-dolphin eco tourism industry as an economically sustainable alternative.

Ditto for Nimbin, a leader in sustainability issues, including environmental protection, permaculture and hemp as an alternative industrial fiber.

A focus on peace and sustainability is the key that will unlock the present impasse and point to better relations in the future.

Strategy

The Rainbow Collective is working on sending a Japanese edition of Rainbow Dreaming to Japan in 2011. (see www.rainbowdreaming.org) The text of the exhibit – which has a strong focus on sustainability and environmental issues in general, including stories on the campaigns to protect marine creatures – will be translated into Japanese. It is designed to appeal to the hearts and minds of Japanese people. This exhibit can be a vehicle to set up the proposed sister village link.

(An earlier edition of this exhibit, titled ‘Some Children of the Dream’, was instrumental in setting up the sister village link between Nimbin & Woodstock in 1995. Please note that Benny Zable (Nimbin) and Shelli Lipton & Nathan Koenig (Woodstock Museum) worked on this link for years, but it was only after we sent the Some Children of the Dream exhibit to Woodstock in the mid-nineties, that this dream became a reality. Many cultural exchanges have ensured over the years. The latest was the Rainbow Dreaming exhibit representing the rainbow region in a cultural exchange in Oct 2009 in connection with the 40th anniversary of Woodstock.

This cultural exchange will facilitate other such exchanges in the future, including sister exhibitions from Japanese cultural organizations and exchanges between other organizations in the arts, science and sustainable industries.

Possible sister cities/villages:

Nimbin and Miasa Mura

Miasa Mura, located in the Japanese Northern Alps in Nagano prefecture, has a population of about 1500 people today. In the year Meiji 8 (1875) it received its name meaning “beautiful hemp village” in recognition of its long tradition of producing Hemp, which has been grown here since the Yayoi period, 2000 years ago. Miasa has a tradition of making fine hemp paper and other products. Miasa also has a Hemp Museum. (Pl note we are talking about industrial hemp, not hemp as a psychoactive substance). Miasa has a sister link with Mendocino, California, USA.

Nimbin has been at the forefront of promoting hemp as a sustainable industry. We are proposing a re-exploration of traditional Japanese hemp expertise, married to modern needs and technology, to kick-start the industrial hemp revolution. Hemp is THE sustainable fiber of the future!

Byron Bay and Shonan/Kochi/Shimoda

There are three possible sites that have been suggested:

1. The Shonan area. Shonan is near Yokohama.

Shonan has a strong surf, environmental and art focus.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sh%C5%8Dnan

http://shonanguide.com/

Saya Minami, our tour representative, is exploring links with this area and will get back to us with more info.

2. Kochi in Shikoku

They too have a focus on surfing, organic markets, industrial hemp and the arts

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C5%8Dchi_Prefecture

Sayaka Nakao, our technical consultant, is visiting the area in mid March and will get back to us with more info.

3. Shimoda, Shizuoka

Shimoda has beautiful beaches,  surf culture and music plus organic grassroots culture

Shimoda info:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shimoda,_Shizuoka

Iritahama was voted most beautiful beach in Japan.

Shimoda is linked with Newport, Rhode Island, USA

In addition, Emi Iizuka, our representative (Byron Bay/Tokyo) will be visiting Tokyo in early March and she will be meeting with venues and groups to set up the groundwork for the rainbow bridge.

Partnerships:

This project is a community cultural initiative of the Rainbow Collective, under the auspices of Byron Community & Cultural Centre. We are seeking to partner with other like-minded cultural organizations (e.g. Lismore Regional Gallery); educational institutions (e.g. Southern Cross University); NGOs in the area of sustainability (e.g. Djanbung Gardens); businesses devoted to sustainable industries (eg Rainbow Power Co.); business groups (eg Nimbin Chamber of Commerce/Byron United) and cultural tourism bodies.

We are also seeking partnerships in Japan.

Funding:

We are seeking funding from the Australia-Japan Foundation to pay for costs associated with preparing and touring Rainbow Dreaming to venues in Japan in 2011.

The deadline for the Aus-Japan Foundation grant is 17th March.

Your thoughts and ideas on the above would be appreciated.

Outcomes:

  1. Ongoing cultural exchanges between northern New South Wales (Byron Bay-Nimbin) and Japanese sister villages
  2. Joint partnerships in the area of sustainable industry, eg industrial hemp, marine conservation; eco tourism

3.  Facilitation of resolution of issues to do with marine conservation

4.  Eco tourism and cultural tourism benefits to both Australia and Japan

5. Better understanding between our peoples based on shared interests, sustainability and peace

Action:

1. Please network this email to any groups/individuals that you think may be interested.

2. If you support the idea of the Rainbow Bridge to Japan, please indicate your support by emailing us on your official letterhead, PDF preferred. Deadline:  17th March.

Kind regards,

Harsha Prabhu

Co-curator

for Rainbow Collective

rainbowdreaming1@yahoo.com.au

www.rainbowdreaming.org

This project is auspiced by Byron Community & Cultural Centre and assisted by Lismore Regiona Gallery

Letters of support have been received from: Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell, Nimbin Chamber of Commerce, Byron United, Byron Neighbourhood & Resource Centre, Nimbin Neighbourhood & Information Centre, Nimbin Environment Centre, Northern Rivers Hemp

Rainbow Bridge Japan team:

Emi Iizuka, representative, Byron Bay-Tokyo

Saya Minami, representative, Byron Bay-Tokyo

Sayaka Nakao, Tech Consultant, Tokyo

Nami Matsumoto, Translation Consultant, Byron Bay-Tokyo

Max Ferguson, Desktop Guru

Lelli Brown, Designer

Hans Lovejoy, Media

Benny Zable, Nimbin ambassador to Woodstock

Graeme Batterbury/ Harsha Parbhu, Co-curators

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