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BERMAN BLUEPRINTS: Rochelle Kopp Interview

Rochelle Kopp is an environmental activist, author, journalist, and business consultant. She advocates for the preservation of historic gingko trees and landmark buildings (including a baseball field similar to Wrigley Field) in the famous Jingu Gaien district in Tokyo.

See our video interview with Ms. Kopp here, transcripts in English and Japanese below.

Berman Design created a comprehensive pro bono 3d video illustrating the negative impact on existing protected historic structures and gingko trees. The video is trending in Japan.

BERMAN BLUEPINTS is a video interview series with Berman Design's strategic partners and clients.


Basam Mohamed El Sayed Gonzalez: Hi, my name is Basam Mohamed El Sayed Gonzalez with Berman Design here today with Ms. Rochelle Kopp. Ms. Kopp, could you give us a little intro?

Rochelle Kopp: Certainly. Hi. So I'm originally from Chicago and I currently live in Tokyo, most of the time and my specialty is cross-cultural communication between Japanese and people from other countries. I have my own consulting firm that I've been doing for 29 years now. So, for quite a while, specializing in cross-cultural training, team building, and coaching to multinational corporations.

Basam Mohamed El Sayed Gonzalez: That's awesome. I'm glad to hear that. And so let's move into Jingu Gaien. What is Jingu Gaien and what is its historical and cultural significance?

Rochelle Kopp: Certainly so Jingu Gaien is part of the Meiji Jingu shrine in Tokyo, which is one of the major religious landmarks in Tokyo. And so the Meiji Jingu was designed in two parts. There's the inner garden which is near Harajuku Station, a huge forest, and a lot of people visit there as tourists. The second part is the Gaien, the Outer Garden and that's an area that has a lot of sports facilities. But it also has a lot of trees. It has a famous avenue of ginkgo trees that are really quite beautiful. It has Jingu Stadium, which is a historic stadium. Very similar to Wrigley Field in Chicago, or Fenway Park in Boston, and it also has a rugby stadium which is of again, very historic and it, right nearby is the National Stadium, which was the key focal point for the Olympics.

Basam Mohamed El Sayed Gonzalez: Wow. Why are you saving these Tokyo Gingko trees and then what do you hope to accomplish?

Rochelle Kopp: Here's what the story is: real estate developers are in cahoots with bureaucrats and politicians to completely change this area. They want to put in a bunch of high-rise buildings. They want to change the locations of the two stadiums so that there's more room for high-rise buildings, They want to destroy the existing historic stadiums and build new ones even though they could be renovated. They would throw away all that history and chop down a thousand trees, as well as damage the historic avenue of ginkgo trees because they're trying to smash so much into the space where they' will erect the new baseball stadium. The new stadium will be only six meters from the trunks of the ginkgo trees, which of course is going to cut their roots experts say; it's going to kill the gingkoes. It's really pretty awful. And so I had started a petition about a year and a half ago saying hey, let's stop and rethink this plan, there's lots of problems with it and let's really give this a rethink in a more open process. That's what we've been calling for.

Basam Mohamed El Sayed Gonzalez: Absolutely. Why is the preservation of ginkgo trees, historic structures and landscape important?

Rochelle Kopp: I think it's important for a bunch of reasons. In this time of global warming you really don't want to be losing trees. Cities around the world have put more emphasis on planting trees. New York planted a million trees, and they will plant a million more. This has been going on around the world. Meanwhile, in Tokyo, Osaka and other cities in Japan there is a disregard for urban trees and “oh trees are just in the way of our plans and we can get rid of them” and not really valuing the historical greenery. So that goes against both aesthetics, but it's also really an issue for the environment. Heat in Tokyo has been rising at a much faster rate historically than the heat of the world as average. And also more than big cities like New York or Beijing. And the reason it's getting hotter faster in Tokyo is because there aren't enough trees. Parks in greenery are a much smaller percentage of Tokyo's land mass or land area. Then in other places only about 10% of the tree cover compared to London for example. So there's already a shortage of trees and that's one reason why it's getting hot here and it's just kind of unbearable and then they're planning to cut down more trees. It's really kind of crazy!

Basam Mohamed El Sayed Gonzalez: Yes absolutely, How did you meet Joel, and how is Berman Design supporting your effort?

Rochelle Kopp: With this Jingu Gaien project, our feeling was, if people could see an accurate representation of what this is really going to look like, that they're probably will not be happy with it. They will understand what's happening. We didn't think there was going to be anyone in Japan who would be willing to help us. We wanted to take the current Jingu Gaien massing and compare them to massing for the new development and have them in a computer program, so that they can be compared in the kind of a 3D way. In Japan, the developer and the politicians behind this project are very very powerful and so nobody in Japan was going to want to help us to do that. Because they were afraid that maybe they would be blacklisted. So we really felt that we needed to go to someone outside Japan. Someone who was completely objective and removed from all this political stuff. And I know what great work Berman Design does and so I said to Joel “Hey, is this something you help us with?” And he kindly said, “Sure. we can.”

Basam Mohamed El Sayed Gonzalez: That's fantastic. I'm glad to hear that. And so then, how is this video donated by Berman Design helping in the effort to save Jingu Gaien?

Rochelle Kopp: It was really great timing. We released it this week because there was a lot of public pressure on the developers to have an explanatory meeting for the public and they ended up doing that in a very limited way. They met with people who lived only within 390 meters from the development (which is a pretty small area). And the entire population of Tokyo really should care about this and really the entire country but they were limited to a small number of people and then they made an explanation video that they put online. It was the same one they showed at the meetings. And so there's been a lot of discussion this week about this project. And what does it really entail and how much information is being disclosed? So what we did is we released this video 15 minutes before the developer released theirs, they had told everyone, we will be releasing it at noon on Monday. So we literally starred ours at 11:45 as really a counterpoint, like here's what the developer is not telling you. Because our video is much more frank and forthright about what this will look like. And so it's been particularly good timing as this week has been a whole discussion about what is will happen. We've really highlighted that the developers are not forthcoming about the details and so that's been very helpful. As of this morning, almost 7,000 people have viewed this video. Also, I was interviewed for an Internet news program and as of last night over 2,000 people have viewed that and in the program they showed the Berman Design video in its entirety.

Basam Mohamed El Sayed Gonzalez: Wow.

Rochelle Kopp: So we're getting lots of eyes on this. And so just that was sort of a long explanation but to answer your question more succinctly by showing people exactly what this plan is going to look like. That's really contributing to this debate about whether this development is appropriate and whether it should go forward as planned.

Basam Mohamed El Sayed Gonzalez: Thank you for interviewing with me. I appreciate this.

Rochelle Kopp: And I just want to thank Berman design because they're creating this video has just been absolutely just a huge help to us. And it was part of bringing the truth to light about this project in a really effective way. And so I'm just incredibly grateful!

ゴンザレス: こんにちは、私はバーマン・デザインのバサム・モハメド・エル・サイード・ゴン

ザレスです。今日はロッシェル・カップさんとお話をします。 カップさん、少し自己紹介して いただけますか?

カップ: はい、 私はシカゴ出身ですが、現在はほとんど東京に住んでおり、専門は日本人と他

国の人々との間の異文化コミュニケーションです。 関連の会社を経営して、もう29年になりま

す。 長い間、異文化コミュニケーションに特化して、多国籍企業に異文化トレーニング、チー


ゴンザレス: それはすごいですね。 ご紹介ありがとうございます。 ということで、神宮外苑へ

の話題に進みましょう。 神宮外苑とはどのようなところで、その歴史的・文化的意義は何でし ょうか?

カップ: 神宮外苑は東京にある明治神宮の一部であり、東京の主要な宗教的ランドマークのひ




歴史的価値を持つ明治神宮球場もあります。 シカゴのリグレー・フィールドやボストンのフェ



ゴンザレス: どうして、この東京の樹木を救おうとしているのですか。どんな目標を達成したいと考えていますか?

カップ: 役人や政治家と共謀して計画を進めている不動産開発業者は、この地域を大きく変えよ


高層ビルを建てるために、二つのスタジアムの位置を入れ替えて建て直すのです。 そのために






とオープンなプロセスで真剣に考え直しましょう」と呼びかけました。 それが私たちが求めて いることです。


カップ: それには多くの理由があります。 この地球温暖化の時代に、世界中の都市で、樹木を


ークでは100万本の木を植えました、そしてさらに100万本の木を植える予定です。 このような

積極的な植樹は世界中のトレンドです。 一方、東京、そして大阪や日本の他の都市でも、都市


風潮があり、歴史的な緑をあまり大切にしていません。 つまり、美的な景観にも反するだけで



京の気温上昇が早くなっているのは、樹木が足りないからです。 東京の面積に占める緑豊かな



していることが、東京の暑さが耐えられない理由のひとつなのに、さらに伐採する計画を立て ているのです。 本当にちょっとクレイジーです!

ゴンザレス: はい、まったくそのとおりですね。 ジョエルとはどのようにして知り合ったので

しょうか? そして、バーマン・デザインはあなたの取り組みをどのようにサポートしていますか?

カップ: この神宮外苑プロジェクトに関して感じていたのは、もしこの計画が実際にどのように



しかし、そのようなパースを作って私たちを助けてくれる人は、日本にはいないだろうと思い ました。










ゴンザレス: それは素晴らしいですね。 私もそれを聞いてうれしい。 それでは、バーマン・デ


カップ: 今週この動画をリリースしたのは本当に素晴らしいタイミングでした。なぜなら今週、






それは何を意味し、どれだけの情報が公開されているのだろうか? そこで私たちは、事業者が









ゴンザレス: すごいですね。

カップ: この動画は多くの注目を集めています。ちょっと長い説明になりましたが、この計画が



ゴンザレス: インタビューに応えていただきありがとうございます。

カップ: この動画を作成してくれたバーマン・デザインに感謝しています。彼らは、私たちにと


かにするものです。 心から感謝しています!


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