These proposals/projects are intended to foster reciprocity, trust, and cooperation so the residents of the affected regions can work together. They are based on worldwide precedents both in post-disaster and non-disaster contexts. Working in collaboration with various Japanese universities, these proposals range from projects that can be completed this summer, started this summer, and planned for the future.

environmentalEnvironmental Sustainability
In light of the disaster’s effect on energy availability, sustainable development is one of the highest priorities for local communities. Small-scale biomass facilities can help provide entrepreneurial opportunities for local residents, promote future disaster resilience and safeguard the environment. The move to higher-ground also necessitates the development of new land-water interfaces to promote safe and sustainable livelihoods.

Developing the tourist industry in Minamisanriku-cho will create new employment opportunities as well as preserve the historic character and traditions of the area. Emphasizing locally-directed activities and locally-sourced products can also help tie tourism into the broader rejuvenation of local industry. Community members can determine what is distinctive about the town and create their own “packages” of activities, such as fishing with local fishermen or visiting old-growth forests.

Communal spaces are important for fostering resilience and effective local organization. A resource centre can empower the community with information, skills, and a common support network. It can also provide an exhibition space and a living history centre, documenting and preserving local narratives. The addition of a mobile component would help staff inform locals about recovery activities and bring the conversation to a larger audience.

Economic Revitalization
Rebuilding local industry is essential for the long-term viability of the area. The move to higher ground brings with it planning and zoning challenges that require the input and collaboration of both local residents and design professionals. The rebuilding of infrastructure must go hand-in-hand with supporting new enterprises, such as oyster coops, as well as helping existing businesses develop new distribution channels. Innovative measures such as pop-up retail can also help bring in outside investment and economic dynamism to the area.

Natural disasters create new challenges for ensuring the mental and physical well-being of communities. For example, it is important to combat the isolation that can result from the breakdown of social networks, which can be particularly acute for the elderly. Research on people’s needs is necessary to help the community develop effective support systems. We are also looking to collaborate with locals in designing new elderly-friendly and “healthy” towns.