The Sanriku Project is a multi-disciplinary team of Harvard-affiliated researchers, designers, and medical professionals whose mission is to help facilitate the recovery and rebuilding process along the Sanriku coast through empowering local residents and building community resilience. The project has received support from the Japan Disaster Relief Fund Boston, The Harvard Commemorative Cherry Tree Planting Initiative, and RI. Participant groups have included Harvard for Japan, Boston Japan Medical Relief Initiative (BJMRI), GSD to Minami Sanriku, and the Urban Risk Lab at MIT. Individual participants bring expertise from many fields: anthropology, local governance, business, design, technology, mental health, community support systems, health policy, health economics, trade policy, and disaster prevention.
As a collaborative project with various Japanese universities, the project has prioritized development in dialogue with local communities. Cooperating with the local residents of Minamisanriku-chô, the project has identified a number of areas where its collective resources can contribute to recovery through an incremental approach that stresses short-term solutions and visible signs of progress that will improve community morale and increase faith in the recovery effort.
In summer 2013, the team focused on continuing to support the inclusion of local resident voices in community reconstruction and redevelopment. Through interviewing various members of the community, the team collected individual opinions, concerns, and hopes of their re-imagined, rebuilt Minami Sanriku. These articulations, focused on distinct areas (residential, commercial, industrial, and green space), were manifested in sketches of large designs, which were showcased to the public in the town hall, and presented to the consultants and city officials to be included in the community master plan of rebuilding Minamisanriku-chô.