Monday, March 30, 2009

'Spring Love': free festival in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park (April 4-5)

In 2004, I founded Peace Not War Japan (PNWJ) in Tokyo, a non-profit organisation that focused on using the arts to raise awareness about peace and conflict issues around the world and to raise funding for grassroots Japanese peace groups. The first CD release, titled 'Peace Not War Japan' was a collection of pro-peace/anti-war songs by contemporary Japanese artists - a very rare thing in Japan's music scene.

Before I left Tokyo, early last year, I set up a Steering Committee to keep the work of the group going. Although I was no longer involved on a day-to-day basis, I was thrilled to see that they carried on the work I'd begun. Since I left, they have hosted a workshop and performance at a major international conference in support of the threatened Article 9 clause of Japan's constitution and held a week of live music at a venue in the west of Tokyo.

The seed that was planted has now become a small forest. Next weekend (April 4-5), having joined forces with the organisers of Japan's annual Earth Day festival, PNWJ will be hosting a large free festival in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park. Full event details are given below.

If any Tokyo readers of this blog are in town next weekend and would like to go to a fully fun-packed event with music, dance, talks, exhibitions, peace group booths, a market, organic kitchen and much more, please head down to the park and show some spring love. And if you do happen to make it, please drop a comment on this page and let me know how it went - I'll be on the other side of the planet instead!


Spring Love: The hottest urban party of the season!!

The folks who bring you the yearly Earth Day festival are pleased to announce Spring Love (Harukaze), a two-day extravaganza of musical and dance performances to be held in Yoyogi Park on April 4th and 5th. Organized in conjunction with Peace Not War Japan, the event will also feature a series of talk sessions on peace and nonviolent social action, as well as booths with NPO/NGO literature, sales of eco- and organic goods, healthy food stalls, and much more.

Come out and enjoy the cherry blossoms while feeding your mind and soul with some Spring Love!!

Date/Time: Saturday, April 4th (1-8 PM) and Sunday, April 5th (12-7:30 PM)

Venue: Yoyogi Park Outdoor Stage

Admission: Free!!

Event will feature:
  • Performances from numerous musicians and dancers representing a variety of artistic genres
  • Peace-related talk sessions, photography, and exhibitions
  • Events on two separate stages (Spring Stage and Love Stage)
  • Booths with literature from peace-related NPOs/NGOs
  • Spring Love Market with sales of various eco-friendly goods on offer
  • Spring Love Kitchen featuring stalls with organic and ethnic foods
  • Live painting
  • Kids’ activities

OKI DUB AINU BAND * Keyco & Kokyo * poodles * maccafat * Sayoko Meets Planet Sounds * Tateiwa Junzo * Blues the Butcher (Takashi 'Hotoke' Nagai, Numazawa Takashi, Nakajo Takashi, KOTEZ) * Ca-zoku * Hana & Phenomenon * Ailie * Percussion du MATAI * ANICHE * Rankin Taxi & Tokyo Revolutionaries * Kamebuchi Yuka & VOJA * Likkle Mai & The K * Ichiryusai Harumi * Salsa Gum Tape * Inushiki (aka Dogggystyle) * YOSHIE * ARTMAN * DJ Gerry Ong & DJ Chiaki * HIYOSHI * DJ YOGURT * Kudo 'Big H' Haruyasu * Seino Eiichi * MASA * REE.K * SINN & MORE!

Peace-Themed Talk Session Participants:

〜Come explore perspectives you won’t get from the mainstream media!〜

Kamanaka Hitomi(director) * Toyoda Naomi (photojournalist) * Ishida Masataka (photojournalist) * Kubota Hironobu (photojournalist) * Hatakeyama Sumiko (staff of NGO Peace Boat) * Aizawa Yasuyuki(NPO Peace On) * Kikuchi Yumi (writer, translator, founder/organizer of Harmonics Life Center, Tokyo Peace Film Festival, and Japan United for Ministry of Peace) * hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) from Hiroshima and Nagasaki * Shigenobu May (journalist) * DJ Gerry (psychedelic trance DJ, founder of Dance for Peace) & MORE!


For more information including links to featured artists' home pages, the official event webpage is here in English and here in Japanese.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A game changer? (WN0018)

For someone that converted to using Mac a few years ago and is generally loathe to sing Microsoft's praises having done so, I have to admit that the company does have something very cool indeed coming out - a surface computer, turning 'an ordinary tabletop into a vibrant interactive surface'.

Microsoft Surface is a natural user interface that moves beyond the traditional mouse and keyboard experience into a whole new touchscreen world. Seems like the future that all those sci-fi movies promised us for so many years is edging a little closer.

The video above shows what it is capable of. Hmm, the pace of change is speeding up. Can't see it bringing me back into the MS fold though!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The growth of Twitter, and a few words on Creative Commons

In the above video, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams explains to a TED audience about how the service works, its phenomenal growth and how some of the truly inventive uses of the service have required the company to be led very much by its users. The film is also pretty useful as an explanation for non-users what the fuss is all about.

I've been using Twitter for a few months now and have found that once the potential and usage is understood, it is quite an astonishing communications tool. Already, I've made several very useful or interesting connections with people that I'd never have otherwise met through other forms of social media (such as MySpace, Facebook, etc).

TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design is a conference that began in 1984 to bring people from those different worlds together. Since then, TED's scope has become considerably broader and serves as a platform for some of the world's most fascinating thinkers and speakers who are challenged to give the speech of their lives within 18 minutes. Somewhat like Twitter, where users are encouraged to post what's on their minds in just 140 characters.

I came across TED through using Twitter and was both surprised I'd not come across it before and delighted to have done so. In their mission statement, TED state how they 'believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.' The website thus serves as 'a clearing house that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world's most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.'

Admirably, the organisation further defines itself thus:
TED thought of as a global community. It's a community welcoming people from every discipline and culture who have just two things in common: they seek a deeper understanding of the world, and they hope to turn that understanding into a better future for us all.
The video, here embedded from my YouTube channel, is offered under a Creative Commons licence, allowing it to be freely shared and reposted. For the unfamiliar, Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright.

They provide free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination thereof. The below video, also available on Globalism Films, explains a little more about CC licencing.

Although competing demands currently take up more of my time at the moment, therefore not giving me a great deal of time to write much at length here, every now and then I stumble upon some great content that just has to be shared - as with the case of these two films.

I can be followed on Twitter here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

'Will you eco-marry me?'

A friend of mine who works for the United Nations University's Media Studio in Tokyo has produced the above short documentary about a Japanese couple that decided to make their special day an eco-wedding.

The film is a thoughtful piece on how even the bigger or more important parts of our lives can be adapted to reduce our footprints on the environment. A full article on the film by Johanna Stratton can be found here.

To visit the UNU's fascinating and insightful webzine on further solutions to the complex problems facing our planet, visit Our World 2.0.

Sweet balms and sonic chaos

This probably shouldn't even have happened, but it seems to work - and rather beautifully at that: The Flaming Lips cover Madonna's 'Borderline. See and hear for yourself.