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ISHES Newsletter #48: Learning Together and Creating a Better Future: The For Future Youth Team

2022/10/25 16:28:33
ISHES Newsletter #48
October 25, 2022

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Institute for Studies in Happiness, Economy and Society, Japan


Dear Readers,

From November 6 to 18 this year, the 27th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will be held in Egypt. At COP26 last year, a pact was adopted that included efforts to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. At COP27, attention will be focused on the extent to which countries can come together to achieve these goals.

In this issue of our newsletter, we report on the For Future Youth Team, which offers learning and networking opportunities for young people who want to solve problems in society such as the climate crisis, food loss, and plastic waste, and create a better future. We hope this example may give readers ideas for their own communities!

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Learning Together and Creating a Better Future:
The For Future Youth Team


Copyright 2022 Miraisozobu All Rights Reserved.

By Junko Edahiro, President of the Institute for Studies in Happiness, Economy and Society (ISHES), Japan

In this article we report on a six-month program called "For Future Youth Team," which provides a space for learning and networking for youth who want to change the world and create a better future. They gain proficiency in skills like breakthrough thinking, designing change, communicating, and consensus-building.

I want to do something to stop climate change!
I want to turn my community around for the better!
I want the oceans filled with fish, not plastic waste!
I want to see more people and children escape from the cycle of poverty!

What must we do to create an ideal future?

First, we need the passion for change. But that alone is not enough. We will more likely be able to create desirable change if we also have the following abilities.
- The ability to determine what we really want and should change
- The ability to design how to create desirable change
- The ability to pass along the message to people around us and in society
- The ability to form consensus among people with different opinions and positions
On top of these, regardless of sector or region, networking is also essential to sustain activities.

Miraisozobu (For Future Company), which I am also serving as president in Atami City, Shizuoka Prefecture, launched the For Future Youth Team (Miraisozo Youth Team in Japanese) in April 2022 as a platform for young people to learn and connect. The team members are motivated to act to create a sustainable and happy future or to create an ideal future in their own fields and communities.
In this issue of the ISHES Newsletter, you will learn about the team's activities in the past six months.

What is the For Future Youth Team?

Each Youth Team cohort has a term of six months. In the first cohort, nearly 80 members--elementary, junior, high school and university students and adults aged 29 or younger from across Japan--got together and participated in monthly seminars and workshops, either online or in person in Atami City, a coastal town on the Pacific side of central Japan.

Members of the first term (In Japanese only)

Themes of monthly seminars and workshops were as follows.
1. Creating a vision with backcasting
2. Thinking about connections and structures using Systems Thinking
3. Designing the chain of ideal changes (Theory of Change)
4. Effective communication to promote projects
5. How to form social consensus
6. Reflection and future actions

Every month, the members learned about skills, methods and case studies related to the theme. School children and adults worked together in group discussions, deepening the content and ideas of their projects.

Copyright 2022 Miraisozobu All Rights Reserved.

At the end of the program, members thought about what they had learned and what they wanted to learn more, and then submitted reports. Here are some of the delightful responses from the members: "In the backcasting process to think about an ideal future, we asked ourselves, 'What it the purpose?' and doing so clarified my thinking and made the vision more vivid," and "I believe that different issues are all connected. Talking with other members in the group work taught me a new sense of value and gave me new ideas, which was really exciting."

Spin-off projects to develop the capacity to create change

The For Future Youth Team encourages participants not only to participate in workshops but also to learn from and support one another by creating independent groups according to their interests and themes, and by applying what they've learned for their own activities. Besides the regular workshops, we organized several spin-off programs, and the participants themselves organized study groups.

For example, we held a program to experience the ocean plastic pollution problem, film screenings focusing on social issues, a hiking tour to see Atami from the hilltops, and other programs that use all five senses. In the "Online Mit-chan Cafe," Toshihiro Mitsumura, vice president of Miraisozobu and in charge of the on-site activities, whose nickname is Mit-chan, coordinated a frank discussion among elementary school age members and adult members, talking about their activities and Miraisozobu's initiatives.

Copyright 2022 Miraisozobu All Rights Reserved.

At the "Kurukuru Flea Market" held by Miraisozobu with the support of Atami City, the Youth Team set up a booth to educate people about waste and other environmental issues while visitors enjoyed shopping (kurukuru means circulation in Japanese). In an "association game" visitors were asked to write on sticky notes what they thought about "plastic," "reuse," and "the benefits of not throwing things away," and many people stopped to converse with the young people.

Copyright 2022 Miraisozobu All Rights Reserved.

We hope that the Youth Team will continue to build the capacity to create change, even if on a small scale, through real activities with society and the community.

Support system created

When we announced the launch of the Youth Team, we received a great response from youth who wanted to participate. We also received encouragement and many offers of support from people no longer in their youth.

We established a supporter system to accept financial support for the Youth Team. Many supporters made contributions, including companies such as Japan Branch of Patagonia International Inc., Hitoshizuku Inc., Subaru Chouzai, and Green Guardian Co.

"The adults also support you." We repeatedly tell the youth members this message to help them realize they are part of a larger society.

After finishing the six-month program

At the end of the final seminar and workshop, each member gave a one-minute speech to share how they felt about the six-months of team activities. Here are some of their comments.

- Ms. Edahiro gave us useful examples every time, and it was good to learn how to take action when I grow up. (Elementary school student)

- I want to save the oceans and learn something useful for society. That's why I joined. What I learned the most from the last six months is there are various ways to tackle an issue to achieve a goal. Working with the Youth Team members, I got many new ideas and ways to look at an issue from different viewpoints. (High school student)

- I joined because I want to make the environment better. Now I think that improving the environment may not be enough if people around us are not convinced. The environment is important but people are important, too. So I want to communicate with people around me to tell them about environmental issues. (Elementary school student)

- I am glad to see many environmentally conscious young people gathering here. It gives me courage, and I want to connect with more in the future. (Adult)

- I could communicate a lot with people older than me, and I could hear various opinions for the first time. I think that will lead to my growth and strength. I want to join many other activities like this, and it was good that I could start my experience with the Youth Team. (Junior high school student)

- Before joining the Youth Team, I had established an environmental group, but I had no idea how to involve people in a big project I wanted to conduct. It didn't work well after all, and it was really frustrating. That's why I joined the Youth Team. In every seminar and workshop, I learned essential theories that are necessary to take action. I want to keep in touch with the team members and work together in the future. (Adult)

- Until six months ago, I felt frustrated because I was not able to take action despite my wish to change society and raise people's environmental awareness. By joining the Youth Team, I have been inspired a lot by members who have already taken action. Now I realize it's important to just get started, and I have come up with the idea of reaching out through YouTube, together with Youth Team members. (Adult)

- Through the six seminars and workshops, I learned many ways of communication, and so I want to tell various people about how to make the Earth cleaner. (Elementary school student)

- What I learned the most through the program is that it is okay to take time. Before that, I was frustrated because I couldn't find what I really wanted to do. Through the Youth Team, I thought a lot, and I feel I could gradually find my center. Thank you very much for such a precious opportunity. (High school student)

Youth Team continues to build momentum

In October 2022, the second cohort of the For Future Youth Team started with even more enthusiasm.

Members might still be considered to be "highly aware people" within their schools and workplaces in Japan, but the For Future Youth Team attracts young people who share similar awareness and interest, so they can speak their minds and discuss freely with each other, and that leads to their own growth.

I was very happy when I heard one of the members, an elementary school student, say "Here, I can learn ways of thinking that they don't teach us at school."

I hope this work to support the youth will make local communities, as well as Japan, the world, and the Earth a more sustainable and happier place in the future.

(End of the article)

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