Come join us for an author presentation and book signing (and a taste of saké) with Richard McCarthy featuring his new book, KUNI: A Japanese Vision and Practice for Urban-Rural Reconnection.
“Reading Kuni makes me want to dive into rural Japan. Heartbreaking in many ways, this book reminds me that leaders emerge when and where you least expect it.”—Alice Waters, founder of Chez Panisse restaurant, activist, and author
The worldwide environmental, social, and economic crises demand that we reimagine how we live. An exciting new movement from Japan offers a model for sustainable and healthy communities that integrates rural and urban.
The challenges we face in the 21st century can’t be overstated. Climate crisis, staggering economic inequality, and political instability endanger our very existence. While these threats are dire, they also inspire us to imagine creative new ways of living. Richard McCarthy, an activist who has been instrumental in the growth of farmers markets and the Slow Food movement, has thought long and hard about what this new way of life might look like. When he discovered the work of Tsuyoshi Sekihara, a Japanese innovator who has inspired governments and individuals alike, he knew he had found a model of community that deserved to be explored far outside the borders of Japan. Sekihara founded the kuni movement, which has created alternative rural communities throughout the country based on egalitarian principles, environmental stewardship, circular economies, and a holistic view of social organization. Kuni is the Japanese word for “nation,” but its meaning is being radically reimagined by citizens who are committed to a better future. While kunis are currently only operating in Japan, they can be formed anywhere a group of forward-thinking, sustainability-minded, and creative people decide to come together to make change.
In their new book, KUNI: A Japanese Vision and Practice for Urban-Rural Reconnection, Richard McCarthy and Tsuyoshi Sekihara share this vision with the world for the first time, and not a moment too soon. “In a near future in which people can only choose between depressed rural areas and gigantic cities, it is necessary to have a third option, the kuni. In a kuni, the power of the land is appreciated, and experiencing the abundance and hardship of the land brings people together like gravity,” they write.
Richard McCarthy, co-founded the Crescent City Farmers Market in 1995 to link city consumers to the surrounding region's farmers and fishers. He went on to become a leading voice for regionalism and urban-rural linkages. His partnership with Japanese rural innovator Tsuyoshi Sekihara represents an intellectual and practical bridge between Eastern and Western thought and action.
KUNI is the story of an extraordinary experiment in citizen-led regeneration, and the lessons it holds for reviving rural and deindustrialized lands and communities around the globe.
Kuni reimagines the Japanese word for “the nation” to mean a new sense of purpose and belonging in politically and geographically isolated places. A kuni is a community that achieves a balance between belonging and freedom. It can be created anywhere—even within a hamlet on the verge of extinction—and involves taking a holistic approach to helping fragile places thrive by reviving fading traditions, delivering social services, and forging new social contracts.
“This is a much-needed and hugely attractive idea—or set of ideas—for overcoming the rural/urban divide, which sadly does exist and usually breeds a lack of understanding that goes both ways.” —DEBORAH MADISON, cookbook author and chef
“Richard McCarthy is one the most playful and ground-breaking thought leaders in the Americas.” —GARY NABHAN, ethnobotanist and author