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Waves of Despair, Tides of Hope

Japanese Tsunami Response and Recovery: Personal Reflections
and Lessons Learned

Panel Presentation

As part of the 2012 Intensive Professional Training for Japanese Municipal Government Managers Program, three program participants talked about the lessons learned from the Tohoku Earthquake/tsunami response efforts. These three speakers were from the direct area that was affected by the March 11 Tohoko Earthquake. The panel presentation was held Wednesday, August 29, 2012. The event was co-hosted by Portland State University's Center for Public Service and The Tokyo Foundation.

Media Coverage

 CPS in the media: "Japan city managers, some from tsunami zone, learn community building in Portland." The Oregonian coverage and " Japan city managers share tsunami experience in Portland." FOX 12 OREGON television coverage

Commemorative Artwork

Untitled by Demian S.H. Harlow

© 2012

The inspiration for this untitled piece stems from the artist's own journey through Japan in March 2011 and a personal collaboration with core members of the Japan Program. Discussions centered on the importance of autonomous state governments in dealing with disaster relief. From there Harlow hand sketched his ideas and then assembled the collage from torn, ripped and cut paper. It was important for Harlow to convey the sense of loss and disorientation that accompanies a natural disaster into the piece, whithout overpowering it with fearful imagery and turning the viewer away. To achieve balance he developmed multiple layers and focal points to draw in the viewer.

Harlow says, "If you will, the two sentiments (loss and searching) are like separate bodies of water converging on each other."

Against a background of a large sun, symbolizing the sun on the Japanese flag, the viewer sees to one side a great thrashing wave that is countered on the other side by a sea of people. They stand quietly, almost in shock, the shadows of their missing loved ones standing around them.

"The reality of earth then coalesces into a broader universe of stars, suns and planets. Amid the flexing stars Japan floats ablove and in the center, the face of Kan-non, Goddess of Compassion, calming the raging waters," stated Harlow.