03 / 1993
The Yamagishi Association is a group of communal villages, 38 in Japan and 5 in other countries (Switzerland, Germany, Thailand, South Korea and Brazil).
They seek to harmonize the work of man with nature in all aspects of daily living: education, agriculture, forestry, food processing, distribution, information systems, publishing, etc. The villages constitute a living laboratory for this undertaking.
The structure of this organization is based upon direct democracy, where all have equal footing. There are no salaries, no exchanges of money, no directors and no competition. Everything is free for the members. This style of functioning is meant as a new social alternative to the problem of development.
Building upon their own values and practices, they wish to construct a community life which teaches the idea of life in harmony with nature. It is essential to develop self-discipline, self-motivation and a sense of conscience at a personal level.
Decisions within the village are always group decisions, with at least four persons participating. Discussions follow the method of « kensan », based on the search for consensus. Once this has been reached, they try out what has been decided and later evaluate the results. The discipline of kensan is principally aimed at overcoming interpersonal conflicts, as well as encouraging people to take a distance from their own beliefs and ideas.
The education of children is very important in the Yamagishi villages. From the age of five years, children spend most of the day with other children and adults, rather than with their own parents, so as to be intiated into community life and co-operation with other members of the village. At the same time, children who do not live in the Yamagishi villages can participate for a week in the village life. Every month an average of 500 children experience life at the Yamagishi villages. The responsibility for education rests ultimately with Yamagishim Gauken, which is the educational institute where students can learn about their true selves and lead true lives.
There are various divisions within the Yamagishi villages, including not only chicken, pig and barn-building divisions but also agricultural product-processing departments, and shipping departments. All production, processing and distribution is carried out within the village. Each department plays its own part in the larger scheme. No funds are received from outside the Association. Income is from those who join as members, and from the sale of products.
This radical initiative in the midst of the growth economy system of Japan deserves close attention. There are certain difficulties and obstacles encountered in the course of the activities, for example: there are more women than men, and it is not possible for the Association to be self-sufficient. Therefore links must be maintained with the capitalist economy of Japan. In spite of this « compromise », the association deserves to be known.
colloque « Vivre avec la Terre », mai 1992
Actas de colóquio, seminário, encontro,…
SEHIGUCHI, Takashi, INSTITUT INTERCULTUREL DE MONTREAL, 1993/03/01 (Canada)
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