Co-action of four stakeholders ; village, city, local government and enterprise

Overview

Green Wood Nature Education Center promotes education in the natural environment. Their mission is to be “rooted in the community, learn from daily life.” It provides various nature education programs which offer opportunities for young people to enhance their “spiritual richness” and “physical and intellectual ability.” The fields of the programs vary from a forest to a river.

The program keeps the basic idea of “sustainable development of local community through education.” The main projects involve the exchange between urban and rural areas through educational activities. More than 2000 people participate every year.

One program is called “Sanzoku camp (bandit camp)” in which kids stay in tents from 3 to 20 nights. Participants enjoy daily fresh picked vegetables grown by contract farmers in the village. This program gained good reputation and thanks to the words expressed by some of the participating children some of the farmers decided to change their production to chemical-free and organic vegetables. There is also a more advanced program for kids who have more interest in Yasuoka village. It is called “Daidara bocchi (a Japanese giant in ancient times) school of life,” which is a year-long village stay program. In all the programs, the local forest thinning is used. The key points are to include three basic concepts in the activities: “fuel”, “food” and “spirit of mutual assistance.”

The activity of Green Wood was a great opportunity for the local residents to rediscover the recycling-oriented life style, which was gradually disappearing from the village. Before this program, it was common for villagers to think “There was nothing special in our village.” But this has changed gradually and some villagers have started their own activities. One example is an NPO set up to promote green tourism by opening a guest house. Another example is how local residents are organizing weekend activities for the children in the village. Additionally, abandoned field and woodland near populated areas are being restored by local people, in cooperation with the local government. Eco-friendly farming is getting more support from the villagers and perhaps as a result of being attracted by these activities, some young couples have been moving into the village.

Points about the partnership

Green Wood started its activity as a stranger in the village and the local people were suspicious of their intent. A lot of time was spent trying to build a good relationship between Green wood and the local residents.
Green Wood has worked to create a welcoming atmosphere so that the local people will easily participate. For example, they are taking into account the spirit of community gathering: “help each other in times of adversity, clear up the problem by working together” and encouraging children’s initiative.
Green Wood puts great emphasis on offering real experience to the children, by making use of the attractiveness of Yasuoka village, local human power and power of education. People in the past were sad about having “nothing” in their village and therefore negative about the educational power of the village. This has been changed with Green Wood’s efforts and people now realize the value of their village through the children who come from the city side.

Category

Based on subsidies and grants from government and business operators

Theme 

Development of sustainable local community and recycling-oriented society

Actors 

Specified non-profit corporation,  Green Wood Nature Education Center

Partners 

Local residents of Yasuoka-village, Shimoina-gun, Nagano, Network of nature schools in Japan, etc. 

Relevant website

Tsuna-kan Vol.17: “Richness without having goods and money; sustainable development of local community through education.
http://www.geoc.jp/information/tsunakan/index/tsuna17