thinking while drinking?

June 11, 2015

Sitting at the bar at the Park Hyatt overlooking the seemingly
endless Tokyo skyline on a recent trip to Japan, I had two important insights
about social change. I realize that a hotel bar in an ultra-modern country is
an odd place to have a revelation about changing the world, but here’s what
struck me:

1. There are a lot of people in the world. On some
level we all know this – there was a lot of media coverage when the global
population passed 7 billion
. But it’s impossible to fathom what this really
means or looks like from the limited perspective of our own homes, cities, or
countries. In the greater Tokyo area alone there are an astounding 37.8 million
people – about 12% of the U.S. population (and larger than the entire population
of Canada). Looking out at that skyline, or trying to jam onto a Tokyo subway
car, you can’t help but wonder how we can tackle the world’s greatest
challenges without solutions that are truly global in scope

taking into account not just our own fields of vision, but people the world over.

2. Cities are the future. So much international
development work and debate seems to focus on rural communities, but most
people across the globe live in cities
, and the trend towards urbanization
is projected to continue throughout the century. I wouldn’t argue, of course, that
we should ignore the needs of rural populations. But as we seek to tackle
global issues like poverty, health, and climate change, we have to recognize
that these are increasingly urban challenges – despite the persistent notion that
people in developing nations primarily live in pastoral settings.

I’m curious if the Tokyo skyline has this effect on others. No plans to be in Tokyo in the near future? You can catch
a glimpse of it in the classic movie Lost in Translation (filmed at the very
same Park Hyatt) and let me know!

this post brought to you by team member mike berkowitz.