Community is important to Ezo Seafoods. We get involved wherever we can to support community initiatives.
Ezo Seafoods also sponsors various local events such as Niseko Cycle Week (2010); Hirafu Matsuri (2010-2011); NisEco (2011); Niseko Halloween (2010-2011); Niseko Shinryokusai Fete (2010-2011); Youtei Daiko (2011).
Here are some of the Volunteer projects I have been involved in.
Hirafuzaka Reconstruction Committee (2010)
I played a role in pushing for the redevelopment of one of the main streets in Niseko -- the Hirafuzaka. In particular, I organized an online Petition to support full implementation of the plan, which I subsequently presented to the local major, and sat on a committee as a representative of the local community negotiating with the local council to implement as many aspects of the original plan as possible. As a result of our combined efforts, we managed to secure full road heating for Hirafuzaka, as opposed to only partial heating proposed by the council. We also managed to secure Council approval to pay for the road heating in full. Unfortunately many of the key aesthetic aspects of the plan including a median strip and brick paving were shot down by the council for various reasons including finance and road safety. The construction is due to start this year and will be completed by 2012. Here is an image of the street after completion.
Business Improvement District promotions (2010)
A BID is a common taxation structure in the States and other countries to secure and keep funds in specific business communities to address town planning issues. BID's have been successful in revitalizing decaying inner city areas including in resort towns such as Honolulu. A BID has been proposed for Niseko Hirafu by the local city council as a way to pay for the running costs of maintaining Hirafuzaka's sidewalk heating and snow clearing for the main carpark. There is much discussion needed over "who pays" and "how much" and "what are the funds to be used for" however a BID is now on the table and could be implemented within 2 years. The Hirafu zaka running costs are the starting point for the discussion, but the BID could also be used to fund other development programmes in Niseko Hirafu such as redevelopment of the main arterial in Hirafu Road 343. I've been asked to participate in workshops and subsequent meetings with the council and plan to play an ongoing role as an advocate of this initiative.
Help out in Tohoku with the clean up after the earthquake/Tsunami
One month after the March 11 Earthquake and Tsunami, I drove to the Tohoku area and spent 10 days working in teams of volunteers cleaning out houses that had been partially destroyed from the tsunami. I also delivered emergency supplies from a fundraising drive amongst family members who are located around the world, but wanted to help in some way with the relief effort. I wrote about the experience in my blog, "Helping out in Tohoku".
Participate in Niseko Relief Program as a member of the international media team
By far the best local volunteer initiative that has ever been organized in Niseko was the Niseko Tsunami Relief programme. Local property identity and telemarker Keith Rodgers coordinated the programme with a NPO to open the doors of the areas many condos for the benefit of families from Fukushima who have been living in constant fear for their own and their families health. Some 450 participants came to Niseko and enjoyed high summer here. Keith asked me to help out with the media effort and I sat in for Keith in a TV interview talking up Niseko and the program, and also drafted press releases and sent to media in Niseko's main markets including brisbane, Hong Kong and Singapore. While the domestic pick up of the story was significant, there was little interest in the story from O/S media. One of the things I liked about this program was that it put the many condos that stand vacant during summer to good use.
Restaurant owners committee
While many Niseko restaurants share many common issues, there is no platform for addressing them. A colleague from Hokkaido Tracks approached me to see if there was some way to improve or coordinate a more consistent approach to bookings and cancellations amongst the restaurants. This led to a series of meetings held with the involvement of the local Niseko Promotion Board and resulted in am advertisement taken out in the Wine and Dine Magazine. It was a good start and hopefully the beginning of more collaboration amongst NPB restaurants. The ad below was designed by local graphic designer Jon Barlow (www.nisekodesign.com). We ended up using "Chelsea" (Niseko's unofficial spokesperson) after Jon's original and impactful designs were shot down by the publishers of the NPB. I wrote the English copy. In 2011, subsequent meetings led to the throwing out support behind the "inter festival" campaign being organized for March 2012.