What are people saying about this book?
This gem of a book is beautiful combination of one part political philosophy (the power of the individual), one part community activism (rebuilding in disaster-affected Tohoku), and one part NGO social impact practitioner insights. The author invites the reader to consider 8 principles for effective leadership by calling upon personal experience, engaging grassroots storytelling, and thoughtful reflection on the role of volunteerism and activism in contemporary times. Moving well beyond trite essentialist views of Japanese society, the author mobilizes her in-depth embeddedness in Japanese culture with her capacity to bring insider-outsider positioning to provide “glocal” solutions that are principled, culturally agile and effective for those in need. Failing forward with humility and working with collaborators on all sides, the strategies shared positioned Place to Grow as a pivotal space of inclusion, togetherness, and empowerment for the volunteers, just as much as for the individuals rebuilding their communities in Tohoku. A call to action to get involved and implicate oneself in the freedom of others (and ultimately oneself) through volunteering, activism, and other forms of democratic community caregiving, whatever might be meaningful to each of us. The point is that it is a pursuit worth starting NOW. Indeed, the first principle sums up the book’s most important takeaway beautifully: “You matter when you choose to.”
Dr. Jackie F. Steele (PhD, University of Ottawa) is a trilingual political scientist and longtime (1997) Japan resident with expertise in diversity integration, women’s empowerment, and inclusive decision-making.