Community Groups

Su Grierson 25 January

From our mountain home looking towards Mt. Eide (Photo and permission Su Grierson

From our mountain home looking towards Mt. Eide (Photo and permission Su Grierson

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Report Number 3 from Su Grierson in Kitakata, Fukushima Province Japan.

Slowly, as we move around engaging with the locality and people and negotiate the difficulty of translation, we are gaining more insight into the aftermath of the Tsunami two years ago.

All the displaced and dispossessed people from the coastal disaster area are referred to as Refugees.

This term is general and has value in identifying them, but covers many differences that exist within that community. I have had no sense that the term is disparaging, but we were told that the initial intense sympathy that people held for them has been diminished as certain tensions have arisen.

There are Refugee camps in many areas in order to scatter the load on existing communities. The Refugees are housed in temporary purpose-built wooden houses (un-insulated as is common here) which they can occupy for up to 3 years. This deadline was put in place to discourage permanent ghetto-like clusters simply continuing indefinitely and to put pressure on the dispossessed to try and rebuild their lives. Many previous community groups are actually wanting to be resettled together in the areas they came from but this is mainly not possible as the land is not safe for re-building and there are insufficient large areas of free land to build new houses in any quantity. The issue seems to be unresolved.

We were told a little about the tensions that exist, and predictably money seems to be a major factor both between the Refugees themselves and between them and the rest of the community. As far as I can ascertain there were two types of compensation. Those living within the Nuclear disaster zones were paid compensation directly from the Nuclear industry and it was generally much higher than the Government payout to those who were affected only by the Tsunami. In addition, the nuclear payment was zoned by the proximity to the fallout area. Even though those living further away also lost everything and cannot return to their homes they received less. No one mentions whether exposure to the radiation is a factor or not. Likewise those who lost everything from the tsunami are receiving much less than those in the nuclear payout zone. It is not hard to see how tensions arise.

It seems this has been exacerbated by the fact that some of those receiving large payouts, who have never had so much money before, are not managing it wisely and some are buying fancy cars and living extravagantly and again that does not impress the local people and tests their degree of sympathy and support. It is human nature playing out predictably I think.

I am now on my third experience of Japanese traditional style accommodation – and yes, I can actually see the snow through the cracks in the single plank wooden wall! This is a large traditional house run by the owner as a B&B type accommodation. She and her elderly mother live in the (newer) building built alongside. This seems to be a common arrangement. As well as Yoshiko and myself there are also a Refugee couple staying here. He is very talkative but I am dependent on Yoshiko’s interpretation which she find quite challenging so I hope to piece together more of the story slowly as the days go by.

So far I have gathered that there has been a problem with the Government payout because the system is extremely bureaucratic and that many of the less educated or able people deal with the form filling. A system has been put in place to give individual interviews to help those with problems but some people even then cannot answer the complex questions about their history, income and lifestyle so they simply give up.

As for this couple they have moved 8 times in the 2 years, looking for a place to settle. He says he is looking for good water. When I asked why that was so important, thinking it might be something to do with rice growing or fishing, he explained that it was because good water was the source of life. In order to get good human life, good soil and a full eco-system (my word not his) there must be good life-giving water. The area we are in now Kitakata, he says has lots of bears which is good, but lower down the chain of animal and plant life it is missing many things. So it seems they will be off to location number 9 at some stage. At least he managed to get a job here doing night shift at a compost factory. I think he is 68 and took to farming when he retired as a plasterer and before that he worked in the nuclear plant. It would be good to chat with his wife when her talkative husband is not around but she does seem very shy at the moment. Who knows what effect such uncertainty and constant moving around, on top of the catastrophe itself might have had on her.

It is snowing hard again today and I must tell you about the way in which they clear the main roads. Down the centre of the roads where we might have ‘cats eyes’ there are little holes through which at appointed times little fountains of warm water (at least I was told they were warm but haven’t tested it) spray out onto the road. It washes away the snow most effectively without any need for the unpleasant salt that we spread with less efficiency. At our first accommodation the same system was used on the outside paths simply using hoses with holes. The country and side roads are partly cleared with snow ploughs and then every car uses winter tyres and everyone just drives on the packed snow base as normal.

Because the houses are largely un-insulated and without central heating, and anyway many people are giving up using electricity, the rooms, including our new studio spaces, are heated with ‘paraffin’ heaters (well I am not sure exactly what form of oil it is but it smells like that). Most of them are also plugged into the power supply for control. They do heat up very quickly but cut out when they reach temperature and then the cold comes back all to rapidly so it is difficult to get a comfortable even temperature.

The artists on the project with me, in addition to Yoshiko Maruyama, who is an installation artist and the originator of this project, are a sculptor, Vigdis Haugtroe, and Margrethe Aas, an architect/landscape architect working on City Planning, both from Norway. You can see more images of the project from our various Facebook pages and about us from our websites:

http://www.facebook.com/facingnorthjapan

http://www.facebook.com/SeishinNoKitae

www.facebook.com/su.grierson.9

http://haugtroe.com/

http://members.jcom.home.ne.jp/maryoshi/index-e.html

www.sugrierson.com

Until next time from snowy Kitakata. Su 

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.
It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
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Do you wish to breathe life into an unused open space within your Glasgow neighbourhood?

Jamie Clements in collaboration with Christian Cherene, ‘Site 001′, 2012, multimedia, Photo by Pavel Douseck

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Ever thought of using an unused open space in Glasgow for a:

  • green gym/ play/ outdoor exercise
  • pop up sculpture
  • exhibition space
  • outdoor education
  • arts project
  • event space
  • urban beach
  • pop up park
  • growing space
  • or any innovative idea

Glasgow City Council now invites applications for the Community Support for Stalled Spaces fund.

Funding is available from a minimum of £1,000 to a maximum of £2,500.

Closing Date for applications: 27th of August.

Proposals should follow the guidelines/criteria as laid out in the following link which also contains inspiring examples and a first point of contact for anyone who wishes to apply for funding:

www.glasgow.gov.uk/stalledspaces

Proposals must take place within the Glasgow City Council Boundary.  Development & Regeneration Officers can assist community groups to complete their applications.  Hard copies of application forms are available on request.

Last year the initiative assisted 42 projects resulting in over 15 hectares of land being brought back into temporary use (the equivalent of 22 international football pitches) and supporting groups to attract match funding totalling approx £500,000

Stalled Spaces
Planning Service – Development Plan
Development & Regeneration Services
Email: stalledspaces@glasgow.gov.uk
0141 287 8618

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
Go to EcoArtScotland

Glasgow ‘stalled’ spaces

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Glasgow City Council is offering small grants to community groups to improve stalled spaces including:

  • Land earmarked for development though delayed e.g. economic circumstances.
  • Vacant/Derelict Land
  • Open space – yet undeveloped

It’s also worth looking at Greenspace Scotland for policy and practice on ‘stalled spaces.’

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

Growing Communities pick-up point in the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden

Sustainability embodies many facets; entwined in the common strands of energy and water efficiency and cutting carbon emissions sits food. As a nation a lot of the food we consume is non-seasonal and has to be imported. This has a tremendous impact on the environment through transportation pollution from increased food miles. We could easily make changes to our eating habits and more carefully choose the foods we eat to include more fresh locally produced seasonal produce. Making this change would have many benefits, such as supporting the local economy, reducing food miles and therefore environmental damage, involving local community groups in producing the food, and encouraging healthy eating.

In Hackney, this change is made easier for you by the work that Growing Communities does. It is a social enterprise which runs community-led box schemes that build community-led alternatives to the current damaging food system. In short, community groups grow vegetables which are delivered in boxes to various pick-up points in Hackney which you then go and collect. How does this work? You choose the size of your box, you place a standing order, and this guarantees you a box of fresh vegetables each week! This is a fantastic idea which means you are eating seasonal locally produced food, from carrots to cucumbers and leeks to beetroot, and lies at the core of the importance of sustainability.

We would like to know your thoughts of this scheme and whether you would use a Growing Communities pick-up point in the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden.

If you would like to know more about the scheme or to place an order, click on the link below:
http://www.growingcommunities.org/organic-box-scheme/pick-up-points/

If you are interested in a possible pick up point in the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, please email: boxscheme@growingcommunities.org

Below is a link to the Eastern Curve garden where you could soon be collecting your veg boxes from!
http://www.dalstongarden.com/

Go to Arcola Energy