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Conversation of Change with Tomo Hamakawa


“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.”

This Native American proverb underlines the philosophy at the very core of Earth Company’s existence. EarthCompany

In 2014, Tomo and Aska Hamakawa, who founded the social enterprise, were honoured with the “Unsung Heroes of Compassion” from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This award selects 50 individuals from around the world every four years to recognise their tireless, compassionate efforts to make this world a better place.


“We don’t see them or hear about them in the daily news, but they exemplify a humanism and heroism to which we must each aspire.” said Dick Grace, founder of Grace Family Vineyards and board chair of Wisdom in Action, the organisation that hosted the celebration.


EarthCompany is based in both Japan and Indonesia. Their mission to realise social change is defined by three pillars. They want to support social entrepreneurs, who are known as ‘Impact Heroes’, shaping the future of developing countries; nurture the next generation of change makers; and strengthen the social purpose of organisations through professional services.


IMPORTANCE OF SUSTAINABLE EDUCATION


One of their long-running programs, Diversity Voyage, is a great example of their sustainable education work. Led by Earth Company's partner organization, GIFT, the program offers experiential learning and cross-cultural experiences for students at Toyo University in Japan and university students and youth in Indonesia, Malaysia and lots more, with over 1,500 participants to date.


Earth Company and GIFT recently delivered the 7th batch of the Bali program for 35 university students in Indonesia and Japan. This time participants focused on the themes of sustainable tourism and circular economy by using Mana Earthly Paradise as a case study.


“So we felt like these programmes had value and wanted to be consistent in practicing what we preach, and so we wanted to start our own hotel to really embody the values and vision that we believe in.”


Their educational programmes were what inspired Tomo and Aska to build Mana Earthly Paradise, an eco-resort which was founded to be the example that best showed sustainable tourism.


UNIQUE MOTIVATION


Mana is the response to the negative side effects on the environment that the tourism trade has contributed to.


“This hotel is trying to be as conscious and sustainable as possible in every way. At Mana, we’re harvesting rainwater and filtering that water, so that our water self-sufficiency is as high as possible and not contributing to the issues of water shortage in Bali.”


Mana’s guest accommodation villas are made from earthbag walls and bamboo roofing, with electricity provided by solar energy. They also have a ‘farm to table’ concept in their restaurant, using vegetables grown in the eco hotel’s permaculture garden. Tomo continued on by saying how they were pushing the students to “think about new ideas, new possibilities within their own projects, within their own research.”


“By providing a lot of ideas on how a property or business can be circular or sustainable we were encouraging students to continue up with their own.” he explained.


“So we’ve been running this Impact Bali programmes for the last few years, some of them have been online especially in the last few months. And to date, we’ve run 45 programmes to which over 650 people have participated and they represent over 23 countries. And we certainly hope to increase those figures in the coming years.”


IMPORTANCE OF HUMILITY


“Bali is known as a resort destination, people want to come for vacation but

there’s actually a hidden side to all this.” Tomo said. “It’s sort of becoming a hub of social innovation and so we wanted students and young professionals to see that side of Bali and to be inspired by what they can do.”


That being said, Tomo believes that one of the most important concepts in sustainability or environmental education is humility.


“At the end of the day, we as a species as a society can only survive and thrive when there is a natural environment that supports us.


“Much of education for the last several decades has been about, ‘How can we, through technological innovation, control or manage our natural resources?’ and I think we’re at a turning point.


“We really need to be more humble and modest about our reliance and dependence on this; and in order to live that, we need to change our attitude and our mindsets.”


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