Be the change: What we have learned from the first half of our Summer School in Tokyo

Be the change: What we have learned from the first half of our Summer School in Tokyo

We have passed the halfway point of our second Summer School. It has been an inspiring journey filled with surprising encounters, inspiring talks and fulfilling experiences.

In Japan, there is tangible energy of change and innovation all around. To set the stage for our Future Food For Climate Change deep dive, and present our Food System Regeneration Map compellingly, we decided to kick off our Japanese expedition at the United Nations University.

We listened to Ferda Gelegen, Deputy Head at UNIDO Itpo Japan, talk about the global world’s challenges. We were also joined by Dr Yuichi Mori, from Film Farming, who won the Italy International UNIDO ITPO Award with his innovative project in the field of Agro Innovation. Film farming refers to an alternative method of organic farming that, instead of using soil, uses a hydromembrane composed of a water-soluble polymer (hydrophilic booster, SkyGel) and a hydrogel-based IMEC film. SkyGel works to reduce the plant’s water intake by 90% while increasing crop yield and plant productivity. A perfect example of an innovative and scalable project that produces higher quality and better veggies in a much more sustainable way. 

After this official opening, we joined the team of Small Kitchen Summit Japan at SIGMAXYZ,  where we had the opportunity to listen to their incredible insights about the Japanese food tech scene and appreciate to see how they are building this ecosystem. And in this context, a topic that has continued to capture our attention has been the expansion of collaborative modes. This is pretty far from the Japanese mindset but it is the adoption of the JV models is increasingly growing… Yes! because Innovation is a cooperative effort!

We ended our first day at one of the world’s best corporate incubators. This incubator was developed to empower Panasonic engineers and train them to become entrepreneurs. Talking with Masa Fukata, at GameChanger Catapult, we learned why learning to unlearn is so important. Our choice of where to focus our attention and energy will affect the speed with which we will grow, learn, relearn and unlearn anything.

Last Friday we moved to EdgeOf, our Future Food family home in Tokyo. This is a place bursting with an innovative spirit and where unplanned collisions with change-makers is a regular occurrence. One such collision was with father of BlueOcean, Gunter Pauli. These surprise encounters are truly a way for us learn and change the way we think about the world and in turn convert inspiration to action! Gunter teaches us to feel, scale and act, being inspired by nature. Nature grows like a forest! … we like this Nature-inspired approach to sustainability.

This is why we need to stop thinking consequently and start thinking systemically. Like a forest. The only “massive way” to tackle the climate crisis in such a short time. An overwhelming day exploring the regenerative power of food through inspiring role models. For all this bustle and energy, his underlying philosophy is based around simplicity. The world around us, he argues, provides the archetypal design for efficient, flexible and renewable use of resources. “Natural systems are able to respond to the needs of everyone with what you have… Just look at the earth, the worms, the bees, the trees, the fungi, the bacteria – everything is thriving.”

We also met Mack Ramadacharan (former Head of Supply Chain at UN World Food Program) is the co-founder of the Prosperity Exchange, with a mission to tackle global challenges by taking on the system itself, they focus on aligning stakeholders and funding opportunities across networks. Talking with him we understood the importance to facilitate collaborative entrepreneurship to build the critical mass required to accelerate outcomes and systemic change towards the Sustainable Development Framework. You cannot regenerate something if you don’t know it.

So, with the mission to shape the climate through food innovation, today we harvested, cooked and shared meals. We did this at Brown’s Field. This was the perfect place to reconnect ourselves to the Earth and remind us how essential it is to feed our human nature, which is part of nature itself. This is where we met Kai Sawyer. Kai trains students on student-centred education and sustainability activism. While living in the forest of Costa Rica without running water or electricity, he immersed himself in permaculture and mindful living. “The more generous we are, the more relaxed we’ll be, the more wealthy we’ll feel, and the more gifts these will cycle”. His model of the “gift economy” starts from here.

How do we regenerate the communities that we are a part of as we become ever more apart?How do we regenerate cities, farms and oceans if we don’t start from a human-centred approach, which means nature-centred approach?

Todd Porter is the curator and co-founder of EdgeOf. During our conversation, he explained his mission for the space and the need for more similar spaces where people and companies can collaborate and interact. And after a Saturday spent between farmers markets and PLANTX, the futuristic Farming system to grow food on Mars, we finally dedicated today to a very special retreat to reconnect with nature. We experienced original food rituals that fostered a better understanding of how regenerative agriculture fits perfectly in the SDG framework aiming to create prosperous ecosystems that drive us towards human and environmental health.Brown’s Fields is a magical place founded in 1999 as the vision of renowned photojournalist Everett Brown and his wife, natural food specialist, chef, and macrobiotics pioneer, Deco Nakajima. 

Brown’s Field is an eco retreat with an emphasis on food, farming, community, and an agri-centric lifestyle that embodies the roots and traditional wisdom of Japan and its people, and now is run by their son Minto. This place and the sharing session between Kai Sawyer and the students enlightened our minds and lifted our souls. The answer to the question: “is this the best we can have from this world?” is for people like climate shapers “no, it can be so much better and so much more, there is so much beauty out there”.

All it takes is to take a deep breath to get a clear view and stop answering to the crisis approach and to a sense of worth dictated and measured by wealth. Kai recounted of his time in the jungle in Costa Rica. Coming from a place where the recurring mantra was: if you have no money you can get no food. What struck him at first was: “I have this money, and yet, the animals won’t take it”. Also, “I have this money, and yet, I cannot buy food with it”. But he thrived and survived in a place where food only needed to be taken care of and harvested.

These are the life-changing stories that will change yours for the better. In our global learning journey we do not judge. We just study, disseminate and ‘unlearn’ by the best. Don’t ask. Act. Be a Climate Shaper with us: