Running and Reading

Two creative fundraising ideas emerge in the wake of the Tohoku-Kanto disaster

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By Mie Life Magazine
Published Wednesday, March 30th, 2011 (9:30am)

For many residents of Japan outside of Tohoku or the worst-affected parts of Kanto, watching the news of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis has been a surreal experience. It’s natural to feel somewhat helpless.

But help we can, even from afar. Below, Mie Life Magazine features two creative ideas that were put together in the last two weeks by residents of Japan.

5toSurvive: Running for Japan


It wasn’t until after coming home from work on March 11 that Ishikawa-based English teacher Thomas Cole realized the degree of destruction and the scale of human loss caused by the massive earthquake and tsunami. “When I saw the first images I don’t think I can express in words the level of shock that I felt,” Cole said in an e-mail interview. He stayed up most of the night, unsure of what to think. “But all I could do at that time was carry on as normal, so I did.”

That feeling of normalcy didn’t last long. Soon, after seeing more images of devastation and news coverage dominated by the nuclear crisis, Cole decided that he had to do something to help. He settled on the idea of a charity run: 5toSurvive: Running for Japan was born.

In short, here’s the plan: Participants pledge to run (or walk) five kilometers on Sunday, April 10, at 3:11 pm. Participants can collect money along the way in addition to seeking sponsors in person or online. You can run alone or organize a larger event with friends or associates. (For details on creating an event in your area, see the group’s official website.)

The 5toSurive Team
  • Thomas Cole
  • Avalyn Beare
  • Kathryn Kovacs
  • Michael Maher-King
  • Kevin Mitchell
  • Kim Bernard

Four days after arriving at the initial idea, with the help of a few other volunteers, an official website was online. The team quickly realized that the event could go global, presenting it in a way that allows anyone, anywhere to participate.

“So far the response has been amazing,” Cole said, listing several international locations where runs have already been organized. “Watching this grow from a small idea into an international event has been incredible and I would like to thank everyone who is participating so far.”

Cole’s hope, beyond raising money, is raising awareness of the ongoing recovery effort in the worst-hit regions. He said he hopes the campaign “can make people forget, if just for a second, about the nuclear issues and make them remember that there are still hundreds of thousands without homes or personal belongings. People that have had their lives taken from them in an instant, both physically and emotionally.”

He added that he hopes the effort can raise money to give victims “a helping hand in rebuilding their lives and to honour the memory of those that didn’t make it.”

2:46 - Quakebook


What began as an update on Twitter has become a nearly-instant anthology featuring short essays and other work by people who experienced the March 11 quake and its aftermath firsthand.

Contributions include photographs and drawings in addition to written accounts. All money raised from sales of the book will be donated to Red Cross Japan.

A blogger known as Our Man in Akibo started it all with a Twitter post calling for submissions, and a team of editors and translators chipped in to create the final product (not to look over the contributors themselves, who rushed their words to the page).

On March 29, The Japan Times featured some excerpts from the book, which goes on sale soon in a digital format (a print edition is said to be planned as well).

For more information and updates on the book’s coming release, visit the project’s official blog.

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