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Even Universties get in a Mess: Decluttering a Tokyo Rooftop Garden

Updated: Apr 3, 2021

Why would you Declutter an edible garden, and where would you start?

Musashino University's Permaculture rooftop garden just got Cecilia-ized, and the re-incarnation only took 30 minutes.

The director Sano-sensei knew that the dreamy rooftop paradise in his mind was different from the current reality. He had a dedicated core team, but the disorder was discouraging regular people from joining in. It was an obstacle to making his vision a reality for everyone.

We used Cecilia's re-interpretation of Toyota's 5 'S', a method that gets productive places clear and motivating, so participants feel honoured, and give their best work.

Subtract 整理 → 処分 - Plastic bags. Yes, you can just store potting mix soil on the ground. Amazing but true. -Blue plastic 'utility' objects., Tarpaulins especially. Blue is too beautiful and vivid. Flowers, vegetables and people should be the ones standing out. - All plants from pots, where their life is precarious. Dead ones to the compost, - broken, cracked, unlovely things. - All small pots. Things will die in them. - Labels on pots.

Make See-able 整頓 To see the beauty of the edibles, and to notice if they need any help, you need to remove visual distraction. Visual harmony allows the viewer to calm down, and see what they are looking for. - Lining man-made things up in right angles can increase your comprehension of what's going on. Something laid at right angles has been consciously, purposefully put to rest in the best possible place, not just dropped when the user lost interest. Yes, some wooden handled tools were rotting in the wet grass. Now they are propped up.

Make Super-clean 清掃 (strategically) - Turn empty pots upside down, so they don't breed mosquitoes. - Take away white pots, white anything. They look unhappy about being dirty, and it's discouraging. Terracotta and natural materials still look good dirty, plastic and artificial colors look a bit embarrassed about it.

Separate 清潔 (and re-connect) -Make families. One corner became the Resource corner, where we made families of square tiles, of long sticks, of composting material, to maybe use later, when someone gets creative. Lay them out according to their nature: straight things straight, round or odd shapes lumped together is fine.

Second-nature 躾 Make the desirable action the easiest thing to do. -Have the lids off the tool boxes, so when you open the chest it's easy to grab and get to work. -Have flowers and alluring things, so that the people looking down on the garden from the building want to come and have their lunch here. - Make the place look loved and cared for. Then new people will be confident to love and care for it too.

Thank-you Professor Osamu Akashi, for making this lovely event for us all.

Thank-you Shoko Sakaki for being my escort, and for coming to ALL FIVE Cecilia events this month. Your attention to my work is such an encouragement, you can't imagine. Your kid is so cute and enthusiastic.

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