Community Value and Centers of Excellence: Daikanyama Example
Kinji IWAHASHI (President, Daikanyama Suteki Institute, Japan)
This is a summary of Mr. Iwahashi's presentation at the inaugural conference, "Considering Daikanyama's Community Value," sponsored by the Daikanyama Suteki Institute, held in Daikanyama Hillside Plaza Hall on March 31, 2006.
I have recently organized a research institute, "Daikanyama Suteki Institute," in order to study the attractiveness (suteki) of the town of Daikanyama comprehensively from various angles (Daikanyama is located in an upscale part of central Tokyo.) Here, "attractiveness" may be interpreted as "community value," which corresponds to the "brand power" of the community.
In fact, community value consists of a complicated set of values in many respects, with the following four areas being especially important: (1) economic value, (2) environmental value, (3) informational value, and (4) cultural value. These values in turn reflect the community's real estate economy, urban industries, living amenities, natural environment, media content, architectural design, etc. Thus, an attractive community with decent social capital and strong brand power should result from a high level of economic, environmental, informational and cultural values. One of the main objectives to be achieved at the Daikanyama Suteki Institute is to study these values for the community of Daikanyama and make them maximally visible and measurable by clarifying the location, configuration and functions of the community (for a detailed explanation, see the video: www.glocom.org/special_topics/colloquium/20031001_iwahashi_vtr/)
Another objective is to create a COE (Center for Excellence) in Daikanyama, where COE may be defined as a cluster of networks for intellectual and creative resources available inside as well as outside the community for regional revitalization. The most notable examples of creative communities clustering around COEs include Silicon Valley in the United States, Bangalore in India, as well as regional networks in Wales, Finland. Unfortunately in Japan, COEs seem to be misinterpreted as selected university programs supported by government funding for research activities on campus, without much regard for local or regional connections. We need to establish a real COE in Daikanyama and study its brand power for community and regional revitalization. Such a center is necessary because community development requires a wide variety of specialized knowledge possessed by creative people clustering in the community with opportunities for mutual learning and interaction. In this sense, Daikanyama Suteki Institute could become a real COE for research and development, education and learning, economic revitalization, and cultural creativity in and around the Daikanyama area.
In fact, Daikanyama, combined with a neighboring area, Nakameguro, can already be regarded as one of the major creative clusters in the Tokyo region, and might become one of Japan's most active and attractive centers if it is opened up for global interaction and competition. It could be comparable to the city of Kyoto, with its cultural heritage contributing to community development and business innovation. For that purpose, we must preserve various historical buildings and gardens in the Daikanyama-Nakameguro area to attract artistic and creative people and to utilize cultural heritage for a kind of community development that can be highly appreciated from a global point of view. Therefore, it is necessary to actively disseminate important information about Daikanyama in the global community by making use of the Internet, and to accumulate useful documents about its community development in digital archives for public use. At the same time, face-to-face meetings should be held at the COE as often as possible in order to encourage personal interaction and exchange for creativity and revitalization.