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Drawing with the Students of Futaba Future School! Hirono Thermal Power Station Mural Art Project

Part 2:
What to Express in the Mural? Intense Discussions!

30 January 2024

"Let's transform the tunnel that the people working at JERA Hirono Thermal Power Station pass through every day with the help of local students!" This is the sentiment behind the mural art project that was initiated. In Part 1, we visited the Hirono Thermal Power Station with students and witnessed the dedication of the workers towards safety. Next, we will move the stage to Futaba Future School and begin considering the preliminary sketch. In two workshops held on separate occasions, there were passionate discussions where everyone shared their thoughts. Let's take a look at how it all unfolded!

What Is Futaba Future School, the Setting for the Workshops?

Following the previous kickoff, workshops were held on October 4 and 23, split into two days, to discuss the actual content of the mural to be created. The venue for the workshops was located about a 7-minute drive from Hirono Thermal Power Station, on a small hill - it's the only high school in Hirono Town, known as Fukushima Prefectural Futaba Future School.

The founding spirit of school is " Be an innovator." Its educational program aims to foster "innovators " who will overcome the challenges of recovery in Fukushima, contribute to solving issues on a national and global scale, and work towards creating a sustainable world.

A particularly distinctive facility within the school campus is the "Futaba Future Lab." This multipurpose space, operated by the certified NPO Katariba, features a student-run cafe and a versatile classroom equipped with a large screen for various activities. It serves as a place for middle and high school students to engage in after-school exploratory and self-directed learning. Furthermore, it conducts advanced initiatives such as hosting after-school study sessions during examination periods in collaboration with Fukushima University four times a year, which has garnered attention.

Students Show Their Skills! Energetic Discussions at the First Workshop

The first workshop included students who were unable to attend the previous kickoff due to scheduling conflicts such as classes.

Initially, based on the feedback gathered during the tour of the power station, OVER ALLs proposed a theme for the mural and presented six rough sketches. The proposed theme was "promise." Each sketch was created based on the concepts related to "life-size and realistic," "society and the future," and "family (home)," which are all connected to the theme of "promises." OVER ALLs' Mr. Akazawa explains the reason for setting the theme as "promises" as follows.

"At the kickoff, I heard that the primary goal of the thermal power station is to 'keep the electricity flowing and ensure a stable supply.' At its core is the desire to be of service to people, and I strongly felt that this desire is what protects our lives. Another important aspect is that each individual must carry out their assigned tasks reliably and pass them on to the next person. Based on these considerations, I propose that safety might be synonymous with promises, and I suggest 'Promises' as the theme for our mural this time. And since the tunnel where we are going to paint the mural is often passed by the staff members on their way home after finishing a day's work, I brought a rough sketch with the hope that they would return home with a bright feeling of 'Another safe day at work today.'"

Afterward, there was a discussion time divided into three groups where participants shared their candid opinions about each of the proposed sketches. Regardless of age, both adults and children listened to each other's opinions and worked together to consolidate their group's views. Some students also mentioned, "Last time, we were a bit nervous in an unfamiliar place, but this is our field, so we'll do our best!"

Finally, Mr. Akazawa from OVER ALLs summarized the discussion, and the workshop for the day came to a close. Based on the feedback received during this session, there will be a reconsideration of the rough sketches.

The 2nd Workshop Is Held! Two Ideas Remain After the Discussions!

The second workshop was held two weeks after the first workshop. On the screen, in response to the feedback from the previous workshop, there are 3 rough sketches with the theme "Promise" and 1 new rough sketch with the theme "LOVE," for a total of 4 rough sketches displayed. These sketches depicted scenes from the work environment at Hirono Thermal Power Station, transitions in attire between arrival and departure, and expressions of the love and hope for safety from people, all of which are likely to have a significant impact when translated into colorful mural art.

The results showed that proposal C, representing the on and off moments of the power station workers, and proposal D, depicting adults and children embracing tightly to express "LOVE," were the most popular choices.

Among the ideas proposed for adjusting each proposal, the focus eventually narrowed down to proposals C and D, and participants began presenting their personal opinions on these two sketches. Mr. Takahashi, a new employee undergoing training at the Hirono Thermal Power Station, chose proposal C, citing "coolness" as his reason.

"As someone who has been with the company for six months, my impression of the people working at the Hirono Thermal Power Station is that 'they are all very cool.' So, when I saw proposal C, it inspired me to think, 'I hope I can become like this too.' And maybe, even those who have been working for many years might look at this picture and think, 'I want to continue being like this.'"

Ms. Saeki from NANSO-SERVICE, who is involved in the supply and management of coal at the coal storage yard, also agrees with this opinion.

"As my company handle coal, I sometime get my face all black while working. Some people around me wonder why I do such a job, but it's a source of pride for me. Performing tasks like opening and closing valves for repairs, checking if the machinery is running smoothly every few hours – jobs related to infrastructure can often be overlooked because they seem mundane. However, in terms of 'supporting people's lives,' they are very cool. That's why I liked proposal C, which represents that aspect."

The second workshop, which became an opportunity for everyone working at the Hirono Thermal Power Station to rethink "What is our job?". In the end, the opinion that "The representation of switching between on and off in proposal C is easy for students to understand" gained consensus, and the discussion concluded.

Next Time: Final Step of Mural Production! How Will the Discussion's Results Turn Out?!

After two workshops totaling more than 4 hours, concrete ideas have come together, and participants are filled with anticipation. From here, based on proposal C, various opinions will be incorporated, and OVER ALLs members will refine it, with plans to finalize the rough sketch. Mural production is finally set to begin in mid-November. Of course, students will also have the opportunity to experience mural production!

Final Part : Everyone's Mural, Finally Completed!