Sustainability expert Richard McCarthy joins me to do a deep dive on his and Tsuyoshi Sekihara’s brilliant book. Kuni: A Japanese Vision and Practice for Urban-Rural Reconnection.
The book begins with the Kuni Manifesto, which lays out the nine principles of a kuni community. They include:
- Everyone is equal in a kuni
- A kuni is self-sufficient
- A kuni is equipped with a regional management organization (RMO), a democratic organization that takes care of small public services
- Life in a kuni is circular and forms a beautiful spiral
- Kuni is a link between residents and repeat visitors
- Kuni is a place for young people who seek interconnectedness
Richard McCarthy is the Founder and former Executive Director of Market Umbrella in New Orleans, and the former Executive Director of Slow Food USA. McCarthy grew up in New Orleans. After studying political science at the London School of Economics, he returned to put ideas into action. In 1995 he developed the practitioners’ think tank Market Umbrella to cultivate public markets for public good.
He developed the Crescent City Farmers Market as the organization’s primary base of operations. Innovations include a workers’ cooperative with public housing residents; the nation’s first farmers market health incentive pilots, which led to the development of the USDA GusNIP program; an international research fellowship to measure the human, social, and financial capital in markets; and many critical recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina.
In all his work, two important themes prevail: To facilitate trusting relations between urban and rural communities, and to instigate lasting social change by creating opportunities for behavior change to come first. Ideas follow. McCarthy’s work became increasingly global through partnerships with the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development, Project for Public Spaces, and Slow Food. In 2013 he left New Orleans to direct Slow Food USA for six years. Today, he works with Meatless Monday, Slow Food International, FAO, the World Farmers Markets Coalition, and others to cultivate community through food. He addresses audiences all over the planet, has published chapters in two books, and has produced short films and radio programs.
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