I've taken on the role of an adviser for a group called Playground of Hope
They build playgrounds in the communities devastated by the March 2011 earthquake, yes many of the smaller communities are still struggling.
They import the playsets from the US and then get a team of volunteers to build them on site. Often there is corporate sponsorship, or local small community sponsorship for building the play sets. Many of the communities were wiped from the earth, down to the foundations, and the government is taking it's sweet time deciding if they will allow the communities to be rebuilt in the same location. Often everyone who survived is living in temporary housing built quickly by the government and there is nothing for the kids to play on. Since it started a little over a year ago, 18 play sets have been built, next year if they get funding they hope to build 40 sets.
Here is one of these temp communities, not much for the kids to do here.
The playset that was built, by the locals and volunteers from elsewhere, they hold a BBQ party to celebrate when each build is done.
We build from fairly small playsets...
... to some very large ones....
These will certainly take more time to build, but I'm working on ways to speed things up.
As I cannot get away from Tokyo very often I don't go on many builds, I am advising them on how to build in efficiency, and to make the builds much easier for the office workers and housewives who come to help. In the beginning they took 4 days to erect a playset, now I've got them doing it in just over 2 days, I hope to get it down to just 2 days and even less than than by early next year. The area they go is about an 8 hour drive North of Tokyo and often there is not much in the way of Home Centers nearby, so they have to take everything with them. The guys that run the builds are smart dedicated people, but there is not one tradesman in the group, but they learn quickly and listen so they are a pleasure to work with. There are all kinds of things that they are just not aware of for building this kind of timber frame construction (which is what it is basically) even leveling the site and digging some sort of foundation was not in their skill sets. Stuff like making sure they had enough tools to go around for a build. The one build here in Tokyo that I helped on was good, but we were constantly borrowing tools from each other, but that was an easy fix, buy more tools! I'll also be helping them to customize the large van they use to transport the tools etc, right now it is just all tossed in the back, we need to build a false floor and then some racks inside to put all the tool boxes and parts boxes. The hardware needed for these builds is staggering, in the actual amount but also in the variety, and if you are constantly hunting for parts, you waste a LOT of time.
Should be quite the adventure, great people to work with, a great cause and a real challenge for sure. I'm also sure I'll be coming here to pick your brains for ideas on how to make things go smoother.