Arao City Theme – Community Revitalization

Not only can the word revitalization be rather difficult to pronounce, the term is often equally as tough to explain. In the city of Arao, the World Campus — Japan participants were able to learn first-hand through daily activities at the cultural center including guest speakers such as Mayor of Arao, Mr. Junji Maehata, and his chief of revitalization, Mr. Junji Maezono, visits to Saiyoji Temple, Manda Coal mine and Shodai arts + crafts center.

As a method of looking closer at revitalization as a theme, WCI participants took one day to participate and learn from business owners and leaders in the community. According to the Mayor’s office, from an economic standpoint the businesses in the neighborhood represent such a large part of the cities motivation behind attempting to revitalize the community. Participants were divided into groups and worked along side owners in small restaurants and herb gardens, as well as a small winery. The day proved to be very effective and participants and business owners learned a lot from the cultural exchanges they shared.

Over the years, the city of Arao has gone from being a huge source of resource to merely a town known for its unique coal mine history. Revitalization has become so important due to the change in universal energy source from coal to petroleum. The well-known coal-mine, which once not only provided energy to the town, also provided employment to many Arao citizens. Once the coal mine closed, citizens and their families moved to near by towns to find work and a new life.

As a native Chicagoan, I was exceptionally interested in revitalization as a theme. As Chicago moves toward the next Olympic bid, I am constantly surprised at the amount of revitalizing our local government does in order to gain the nomination. Although revitalization speaks of changing from a local perspective, it is a theme used globally in communities worldwide.

Our participants which currently in this session represent over 10 countries and 5 continents shared similar sentiments about their communities. It seems as though globalization is a main factor for communities around the world attempting to revitalize or renew their communities peeking the interest of other and renew the pride in current citizens.

(Faith L. Walls, the United States of America)

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