Urban-rural and youth-elder divisions in society represent some of the most difficult challenges to having a robust conversation about how to reduce emissions and waste, what we value as a society, and the path to a sustainable, carbon-neutral society. A just future will be codesigned by all of us to some extent, but we need to reconnect to move from division to collaboration. Richard McCarthy, co-author with Tsuyoshi Sekihara of Kuni: A Japanese Vision and Practice for Urban-Rural Reconnection, discusses how to restore social connections. Richard is the co-founder of Crescent City Farmers Market in New Orleans and was part of the leadership of Slow Food USA for many years.
Kuni is an ancient word in Japanese that means “a nation” or “a small, independent ancient community.” Tsuyoshi Sekihara developed the modern practice of kuni when he moved to a village after more than a decade in Tokyo, the world’s largest city. He found older people living in a dying village with little support or hope and decided to develop a democratic governance model for building urban-rural networks of people committed to having egalitarian, sustainable relationships with one another and the earth.