No market. No people. A haunted desert.
These are probably the first impressions one has when talking about Futaba. In fact, the reputation is so entangled with the nuclear disaster that even the name 'Futaba' is often lost on our tongues.
Can Futaba's identity be reduced to just 'earthquake' and 'nuclear disaster'? Can the only way to describe it be 'sad' or 'poor'? Wouldn't it be unfortunate to conclude any legacy with such words?
Stepping out of Futaba Station and looking at the vast expanse of land, our first feeling was not a sense of tragedy, but curiosity about this town's potential and infinite possibilities.
It is absence which makes us realise the possibilities of presence. Here lies a land where one can nurture their ideas and even bring them to fruition.
This initial burst of curiosity soon matured to wanting to know more about this town, the culture, the history and the people.
"I could meet new people", "I want to know more about this town", "I got ideas that I want to challenge here"- The feedback is always highly diverse. In addition, various projects have emerged as a result of continued conversations with participants through the online community built during the tour. The content of PaletteCamp itself is dynamic and evolving regularly, with inputs from the participants.
This act of talking to people and thus having a space to voice one's opinions remind us of the unit which is at the core of human interactions: Community.
The Birth of PaletteCamp
With the aim of allowing people to visit the region without any bias and encouraging novel ideas, PaletteCamp was born in Futaba in 2021.
We thus consciously refrain from using terms like "earthquake" or "nuclear power plant" to attract any visitors. Instead, we attract a diverse range of people with fun activities such as morning yoga. The people who gather deepen their friendship and regardless of the reason for their participation, they naturally start to think about the future of the local community.
It is then natural to ask why is this perspective of potential and possibility so unheard of when talking about Futaba? Have we built unscalable walls of stereotype around us?
Allow us to ask you a question. Have you ever thought about enjoying a regular trip in an area affected by a disaster?
Might this not be at the root of our stereotype? Our feelings of pity and the desire to do something "for them" overpowers our general thought process. However, if we trap ourselves in such ideas, it would be even more difficult to revitalise the area.
Being a gateway, a bridge, and a launch pad
In this town where people have lost each other at once, a crucial element for regeneration is a community where people can communicate. The people who meet through PaletteCamp fall in love with the town, often return to the town again and, maybe, could even launch their own business in the future... PaletteCamp aims to contribute to the regeneration of the town by being a gateway to the community, by being a bridge between locals and others, and by being a launch pad for new businesses to undertake their maiden flight.
So, let's build the town with us - old and young, locals and others, everyone together.