Most of the last two days has been spent in very informative and, I think, productive joint meetings between the boards of directors of the Kiyosata Educational Experiment Project (KEEP) and the American Committee for KEEP (ACK), of which I am a new member attending my first meeting.
I have posted before about this remarkable place, the life’s labor of a remarkable Kentuckian, Dr. Paul Rusch, who fell in love with the land and the people of the Yatsugatake Highlands. A resident of Louisville, he came here in the 30’s and stayed until interred at the start of World War II. He was repatriated in 1942 and came back to Japan as an officer on the staff of General Douglas MacArthur. After he separated from the service, he found this place in post war Japan. He impacted the lives of the people in this part of Japan in a profound way before his death in 1979. His legacy and legend lives on in KEEP, which is focused on the environment, health, and helping people help themselves. In the latter regard, KEEP has been engaged in significant work around the globe; most notably in the Philippines and Tanzania. Paul Rusch’s work did more than make him an object of near reverence, it also put Kentucky in the minds of the area populace in a very positive way. Check out the name of this meeting room at the KEEP Discovery Center, a remarkable conferencing facility.
My first visit here was in 1998 and it changed my world view. Now I serve on a board that can help it move forward.
Both KEEP and the ACK are strapped for cash. This is primarily because of the massive investment of resources into a new lodge that is truly a world class facility. A photo of part of our suite is below. Most of the discussion of the last two days have centered on how the KEEP and ACK boards can work together to put the hard economic times behind us and to further the vision of Paul Rusch. We concluded that we would work together in two areas:
1) We will pursue networking another means to help encourage more international visitors to KEEP, particularly from the USA. This is one of those you must see to believe experiences.
2) We will explore opportunities to carry KEEP’s work internationally in the realms of health and the environment, two cornerstones of Paul Rusch’s vision.
In the right hand photo, you see Rinno-san, a banker from Kofu and the member of the KEEP Board most focused on finances, me, Teturo Kuroda, a long-time friend and member of the KEEP Board, and Tetsuo Chino, President of the KEEP Board and past CEO of Honda of America.
It may come a surprise that not all the work here is unpleasant. Here is my good friend Yoshiku Koshimizu, a member of the KEEP Board, relaxing at an Irish pub he introduced to in the Japanese countryside. Alongside, are a couple of folks from Richmond, KY, sitting at a Hallowe’en season display in a park-like shopping area in Kiyosato.