On Friday, March 11, 2011, a massive earthquake struck Sendai, Japan, resulting in a devastating tsunami that ravaged the coast just 180 miles from Tokyo. In response, Students Rebuild partnered with DoSomething.org to ensure students worldwide have a way to support their Japanese peers.
The Challenge: Make & Mail 100,000 Cranes
Make and mail in an origami crane by April 15, 2011, and each crane received will be matched with $2 to rebuild in Japan by the Bezos Family Foundation. The goal: 100,000 cranes to represent wishes of support and healing, which would trigger $200,000 from the foundation to fund Architecture for Humanity's Sendai reconstruction efforts in partnership with Japanese designers and builders. According to legend, anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes, which are sacred creatures in Japanese culture, will be granted a wish by a crane.
The Response: Over 2,000,000 Cranes from 38+ Countries!From Armenia to New Zealand, from rural Kansas to urban Philadelphia, from elementary school classrooms to church basements and community cherry blossom festivals, young people came together to fold paper cranes—and mailed them by the boxful. Students in Haiti folded hundreds of cranes for Japan during the groundbreaking of a newly reconstructed Students Rebuild school in Port au Prince. All told, we tallied an incredible 2 million cranes—exceeding our wildest hopes.
When the crane count exceeded the half-million mark, the Bezos Family Foundation decided to double its gift to $400,000 to reflect and further support the outpouring of generosity from young people across the world. Shortly after, an anonymous donor came forward to add $100,000—making $500,000 for Japan!
The Creativity: Artist Vik Muniz Lends His Ingenuity to Leverage the Outpouring of Cranes
Wowed by the global outpouring of support for Japan, celebrated artist Vik Muniz generously donated his time, his vision and his creativity to produce a magnificent piece of original artwork using thousands of the cranes. "It's alchemic," said Vik Muniz, in The New York Times Sunday Magazine story. "It worked because everyone wanted to help." Here's the poster, and how to order one:
The Unveiling in Sendai: The Massive Art Installation in Japan
On Friday, January 13, a massive sculpture was unveiled in Japan’s Sendai Train Station created from 100,000 paper cranes—representative of the over 2 million cranes contributed by young people worldwide. Designed by the students at the Tohoku University of Art & Design, the sculpture was the centerpiece of a three-day public event Jan. 13 – 15 called “Gift by Gift for a Better World,” featuring interactive workshops with several area schools. In the spirit of the challenge, the cranes will go on to become a permanent art installation in a youth facility being rebuilt by Architecture for Humanity in Japan. This huge display of cranes is representative of the over 2 million cranes contributed by young people worldwide, a symbolic gift from students around the globe.
The Reconstruction: Your Investment in Action
Architecture for Humanity and its teams of local pro bono building professionals in Kyoto, Osaka, Sendai, and Tokyo are actively partnering and lending their services to organizations and community groups to mobilizing around long-term reconstruction efforts. Read more about your investment in action in our Jan. 5 blog interview, or view Architecture for Humanity's Sendai program page.
In February 2013, Students Rebuild correspondent Karl Johnson flew to Japan to track the progress of Tohoku's reconstruction, the impact of the Paper Cranes for Japan Challenge (including the status of the cranes themselves), and the aspirations of a new generation of student rebuilders. Follow his findings on the Japan Challenge Blog - from first preparations, to discoveries and connections in the field, to observations upon returning, being posted through 3.11.
CultureMeet Shogo (2.27)
What's for Dinner Shogo? (3.01)
Lunch Songs (3.10)
The Journalists (3.22)
Ohio, Mottainai, & Pigmon (3.25)
ChallengeOne Morning in Kitakami (3.02)
How to hold a Mini Kitakami charrette (3.03)
Elementary Students Envision a Rebuilt Village (3.05)
Letters from Tsutsujigaoka (3.09)
Kitakami "Cribs" (3.09)
The Cranekeepers (Mar. 10)
Student Rebuilders in Sendai (3.11)
"Program 6: Guest Remarks" (3.13)
Reflections on Youth in Action (3.21)
PlaceThe Snow Road (2.26)
High Shrines & A Lucky Rock (2.28)
Den of fish...and other sea things (3.08)
River to...MANGATTAN (3.27)
New & Old Tourism (3.30)
RecoveryMaeami fishing village's new house (2.26)
Three schools - at least (2.28)
Rebuilding in Context (3.05)
"Bento no hosomichi" (3.10)
Winters on Maeami Beach (3.14)
- Follow our progress to support Japan’s reconstruction and the evolution of the art installation on the Students Rebuild Facebook page.
- Contribute to the virtual collage on the Paper Cranes for Japan Facebook page.
- Read stories from participants--from letters to wishes and poems--contributed to Students rebuild on the Japan Blog.
- Share your story or submit any questions or ideas by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Above Photo: Shizugawa, Sendai after the tsunami. Credit: Nathaniel Corum/Architecture for Humanity