Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Introducing: More Like This

Policy Innovations is pleased to announce the debut of "More Like This," a new article series by our friend John Haffner. John will be profiling clean energy leaders and other green innovators in China over the next several months.

As you can read in his introduction to the series, the motivation is triple: 1. Give these pioneers some of the recognition they deserve; 2. Convey the flavor of life in contemporary China; and 3. Inspire similar leadership in others.

The first article is a frank discussion with Kongjian Yu, an award-winning landscape architect whose designs strive to incorporate energy efficiency and natural beauty.

Yu feels that China's rapid urbanization suffers from what he calls the "'little feet' aesthetic"—showcase buildings built on shaky conceptual foundations. "These ornamental buildings can't carry their own weight. We have little feet but a jumbo body of consumption and GDP growth. Chinese have this dream of being urbanized. But the buildings aren't green."

Also of note on U.S.-China relations is our coverage of "Rare Earths Diplomacy" by Sean Daly. He looks at what we should expect in the rare minerals market and how it could impact production of the wind turbines and hybrid cars we associate with a clean technology economy.

Enjoy, and have a great Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Moving to the Japan Society in NY

Dear Friends,

As some of you know, I am leaving Carnegie Council next week to take a senior program position at the Japan Society in New York.

It was a tough decision to leave Carnegie—especially after nearly 5 years of exciting programming and research projects with a fantastic team. Ultimately my decision was formed by a personal desire to help Japan revive.

Over the course of a decade of writing seriously about Asia, my analysis has zeroed in on two empirical sources: data and interviews (rather than theory or conjecture). In my writing on Japan, I have tried my best to convey accurately what Japanese people tell me about their country. As a result, perhaps ironically, the tone of my articles and speeches has become increasingly pessimistic. I recently had dinner with the chief economist of a major bank in Tokyo who asked me, "Devin, what will it take for you to stop being so gloomy about Japan?" My answer was: "I will stop being gloomy when Japanese people stop being gloomy about Japan." It's time to cheer up.

There is an expression in the nonprofit sector: It takes as much effort to find support for a small project as it does for a big one. We might as well aim for the sky. I hope that in a small way at my new post I can help provide a platform for innovation and ideas for positive change in Japan and the US-Japan relationship.

As always, I will look forward to your insights, guidance, and collaboration.



Photo by William Cho.