TOOLS: Remaking life after Fukushima

See Anthropocene Back Loop, Chapter 5: Survival Skills and Floating Houses.

As we exit the front loop and its single world world, depending on where we are we find ourselves with new questions. Today inhabitants of coastal areas like Miami are asking how they will live in a flooded city. What happens when the housing bubble bursts again? How to obtain clean water or deal with sewage if salt water intrusion disrupts existing infrastructure? And maybe one of the biggest questions of all, food. Or more darkly, think of Fukushima, the thousand-year half-life of various radioactive elements now dispersed across the islands of Japan. This very quickly brought up material questions for people living there, not simply of how to shut down the nuclear power stations, but, how can they live with nuclear contamination? In Japan post-Fukushima people now say, “we want to choose the way we die” but also “we want to choose the way we will live.”

In this video from their visit to the Anthropocene Life class at Eugene Lang College on 9/9/2017, Sabu Kohso and Motonao (Gensai) Mori describe their experiences dealing directly with these questions. The discussion includes the circulation of radiation post-Fukushima in food and soil, government responses, historical context, and two distinct migratory tendencies after the disaster: "those who go north," meaning activists who traveled to Fukushima to support and organize workers in the disaster area, and "those who go west," a mass migration of ordinary people leaving the Fukushima and Tokyo region to resettle further from the radiation zone in the western part of Japan and as Sabu puts it “to take this movement to create new values for their lives and bodies.” Gensai and his wife and child were part of the latter movement, moving from Tokyo to Fukuoka, Kyushu after Fukushima. In the video he describes some of his family’s experience and how people attempted to take the moment as an opportunity to reinvent how they lived, with others, including exploring how to live without money. Describing his experience, Gensai, recounts:

"Our way of life collapsed. Invisible toxins travel through the food chain. The government tries to mix radioactivity with cement, force populations to eat locally grown vegetables and fish; trying to build an ice wall around Fukushima Daiichi reactors. But there is a positive aspect to this. People are changing life. Office workers becoming farmers. Teenagers learning to hunt and trap. Neighbors opening markets to trade what they’re producing now: animals, crops, haircuts, rice rolls. Some talk about preparing infrastructure in the west so more people can come join. I want to become like Bear Grylls now."

Gensai's images from Tetra Market, discussed in the video, post-Fukushima.

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Glaciers are melting, seas rising, and climates changing. Civilizational baselines are also shifting, including what is true, what being human means, as well as who gets to answer those questions and in what ways. Safe operating space is unraveling as we enter the Anthropocene back loop, a time of chaotic fracture and confusion, experimentation and potential. As observed in ecological systems, a…

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