Scrolling through my LinkedIn feed, I encountered this post by the regional Head of Communications for UBS, a Swiss multinational investment bank with a well-known presence in Tokyo.
As I described in a previous blog post, I recently co-created this organization's only English webpage. I am so happy to see that the language that I used on that page is traveling! Instead of pulusualuha, Jason Kendy, the Head of Communications, has used Pulusu, and a sentence that I worked hard on -- "Her characters and colors create a Pulusu world that becomes familiar and comforting" -- has reappeared as "creating a familiar and comfortable Pulusu World for the young readers." I am so happy and proud to see that Third Space Tokyo is delivering on our promise to co-create "stories that travel"!
Third Space Tokyo services began from a wish that I had for myself.
I didn't want someone who was a just a capable translator. I wanted someone who would talk with me. Someone who would get excited about my work and really try to understand it. And maybe even suggest some strategies for communicating with a Japanese audience that I hadn't thought of.
As I was thinking about this imaginary person who could really help me, I realized that I wanted to be this person for other people. What a valuable service this person would provide! So meaningful, and so hard to find. I couldn't help much with putting thoughts into Japanese -- that's my need -- but I could help with putting them into English.
This is what I strive to provide as Third Space Tokyo's Chief English Co-Creator. I'm the one who will get excited about your work and really try to understand it. And I suggest strategies for communicating with English-reading audiences that you might not have thought of.
If this sounds like something you need, say hi! (And if you are a Japanese Co-Creator, say hi, too, because I need your help!)
TST Chief English Co-Creator Lisa is also a member of the Board of Directors for Kuriya, a Japan-based NPO that focuses on supporting migrant youth. Shuko Ebihara, the founder of Kuriya, wanted to celebrate the organization's 3-year anniversary, but she was not sure how to do it in a way that would be worthwhile to everyone involved.
We found the answer in co-creation. Shuko shared that connecting employment opportunities to migrant youth is one of the greatest obstacles to their integration in society. Based on Shuko's decade of experience with these young people, we created a persona, "Judy," and challenged our participants to imagine a path forward for her.
In a presentation beforehand, Lisa shared her thoughts about becoming a shakaijin in Japan as a non-Japanese person. One element that is usually considered essential for a shakaijin is to be a person who can make a contribution to society.
Lisa concluded that contribution（貢献）is most likely when Japanese and non-Japanese do more than simply co-exist（共生）. Co-existing and co-creating（共創）will more reliably lead to a contribution that benefits everyone.
The event generated many ideas about how to support migrant youth. Several people mentioned afterward that focusing on the profile of one person, "Judy," helped them to understand and think through the challenges.
Third Space Tokyo is happy to co-create events with organizations that want to try something new, and especially if the event involves some English. Please contact us if you would like to work on an event plan together.
In January 2018, Lisa and Kenji sat down with Yoko Kitano, the director of a Japanese NPO, to learn about her organization and to think together about how Third Space Tokyo might help. Right away, it was clear that the organization had a lot of content. They had made picture books, posters, and two websites. Putting all of this content into English would be a massive task.
Lisa began asking questions about audience. She learned that the organization, pulusualuha, had opportunities to receive funding from foreign-owned companies operating in Japan (gaishikei kigyou). When considering support, these foreign-owned companies wanted to be able to share information internally in English. Feeling under pressure to at least have one webpage, the pulusualuha team had hastily put together an About page:
As a first step, Yoko and Lisa decided to rewrite the English About page so that it could better serve as a communication tool with potential supporters. Because the About page would be the only English content on the website, it needed to include more than a typical introduction. It needed to be both comprehensive and concise.
Over a period of several months, Lisa worked with Yoko to capture the essence of pulusualuha. The final result was a single page, but it contained multiple sections and the pulusualuha team decided to make navigation easier with an index.
To see the entire page as it appears online, click here. The image below is the first section and gives a taste of the change.
Shortly after completing the page, Lisa received the best possible feedback. Yoko emailed to say that the page did exactly what it was intended to do:
"Two days ago, we did a workshop with a foreign-owned company. We got immediate feedback that the English page was rich in content and therefore it was very useful for explaining our organization within their company."
If you or someone you know would like to create content together to reach your target audience, contact Lisa directly here.
Third Space Tokyo now has a company color, but we started out with the idea that we would have a logo with a unique symbol. We wanted our symbol to represent more than just a 2-person understanding of Tokyo, and so we reached out to a small number of acquaintances. I'll explain our conclusion after you've scrolled through them. What do you notice?
We noticed most of all the wide range of answers, sometimes within the thinking of a single person. Tokyo can be both constrained and scattered, home and chaos, love and hate. It is the visible experience of dusk and a fantasy. With this wide range of answers emerging from just a few people, we decided that we would not make any permanent mark, any symbolic logo, showing what Third Space Tokyo might be.
Instead, we chose a color -- a color that just happens to have the name "rouge sangre" (blood red). This felt right. The activities of Third Space Tokyo are always co-created by the humans involved, all of whom share the same red blood.
Special thanks to Seiji Tarumi who guided us through the design process.
Thanks also to all fellow Tokyo residents who shared their drawings and words.
In March 2018, I was tired. March is the end of the financial year and the school year in Japan, and everyone is busy. I wanted to hold an event, but I knew that I didn't have the energy to do much and I knew that there were people around me who could use a break, too. I decided to offer an evening of Pattern Hunting.
Pattern Hunting was a workshop that I had offered in the past for parents and children. Going outside and finding patterns in the neighborhood was a big part of it. This time, the event would be held at night in the almost patternless fifth floor room of Shibaura House. How could this be done?
We had to bring the patterns in. Attaching posters, etc., to the walls and windows was not an option, so I thought about other senses and provided sound patterns. I made a Spotify playlist called "Pattern Hunting" and played it during the event. I also recommended to participants that they seek out patterns during the week before and take pictures to have with them. This advice had the effect of a warm-up before the event. A few participants mentioned that they enjoyed being prompted to pay more attention to visual patterns in their surrounding environment. They noticed more than they usually do.
The emphasis on visual literacy and creation derives from the previous incarnation of Third Space Tokyo. So how does it relate to what we are doing now? How is this English co-creation? Admittedly, the relationship is indirect. I feel a connection, though, in the ultimate goal.
English co-creation emphasizes a desire to communicate, respect for others, and awareness of our interdependence. For this to happen, everyone involved has to feel relaxed and safe. Pattern Hunting encourages awareness of where we put attention and bravery in sharing a small story about how we decided to make the marks that we did. There is a "way of being" that allows for best work to emerge, and part of getting better at English co-creation is learning how best to create and support psychologically safe environments and cultures.
What kinds of spaces and interaction styles help you to do your best work?
When you think of "dying" what comes to mind? What kind of personal experiences do you have with the process? How do these shape your ideas about what you want your own dying process to be like?
Maybe you've had conversations about these questions with friends, but have you ever discussed them with the people most likely to be directly involved in your dying process? Have you thought specifically about dying in Japan, a super-aging society where resources might not be able to keep up with the demand for end of life care?
Taking inspiration from a cultural change movement that started in the US, Third Space Tokyo and End of Life Care Association of Japan are co-hosting a "Death over Dinner" evening at Shibaura House. Our dinner will be modest -- just pizza and beer -- to encourage reflection on the importance of human connection when resources are scarce. We hope that you will join us for this rare opportunity to share and be supported through conversations about dying.
UPDATE: For a report on this event, visit the Community blog on the SHIBAURA HOUSE website.