Each year the Center for Cities and Schools and UC Berkeley host a summer camp for high school students, called the Tomodachi Initiative, from around the Fukushima region to learn about city planning.
They explore Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco, learning about community engagement, housing, and transportation. Somehow I’m their regular tour guide for Downtown Oakland and Lake Merritt, which is pretty cool. It’s a fun thing, leading a tour that’s translated. My limited Japanese serves as a surprising part of my introduction (“watashi wa”, “gozaimasu”, “hajimemashite”), but otherwise I’m entirely dependent on their fantastic translator.
Today I led the annual two-mile walk from Transform’s office to the Jack London ferry terminal, via Lake Merritt. They always ask very interesting questions (“what is the most challenging part?”, “why are the trains so slow?”) which I find telling of our core differences. We’re not going to teach them about high speed rail, but if we can convey the essence of place-making, it’ll definitely be worth their trip.