Quakebook voices grief and hope for Japan

Posted on July 11, 2011

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2:46 — Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake

A Twitter-sourced book raises $30,000 (and counting) for disaster relief

Shortly after the March 11 earthquake, a British blogger in Tokyo, (better known as Our Man in Abiko) had an idea. He wanted to edit a book, to help raise awareness and funds for the recovery efforts.

The former reporter used Twitter and his blog to ask the online community for eyewitness accounts of the disaster. And the quakebook community was born.

In 15 hours, he had 74 responses. In just 7 days, the community finished its first draft. In less than one month, they published the book.

People contributed essays, art and photos from Japan, Asia, North America and Europe.  Many stories recount being separated from family members — especially children who were on their way home from school. The emotional entries capture early reactions of shock, grief, strength and hope.

One recurring theme is frustration at the media’s sensationalism of the disaster. Most people relied heavily on Twitter and Facebook for reliable information.  One contributor called U.S. Internet connectivity a “lifeline” and another said:

Together with thousands of people in my online community, most of whom I have never met, I felt fear, gratitude and sometimes despair, but I never felt alone.
    –     Steve Nagata

At just 98 pages, it is a quick read. Authors include journalists, teachers, grandfathers and others — even Yoko Ono contributed a piece. The voices aren’t always polished, but they are authentic. The book offers candid reactions by people whose common bond is love for Japan and its people.

Raising money, without charging a dime

Originally, the book sold for $10, with 100% of the proceeds benefiting the Japanese Red Cross Society.  It’s raised more than US$30,000 so far.

On May 28, quakebook announced it was going free. The website explains that at $10, the digital book sold 3,000 copies in its first 2 months. Then, after they made the digital book available for free, people downloaded 3,000 copies in just 12 hours.

Inspiration to give back

You can find out more from the quakebook community website, including where you can purchase or download a free copy. Quakebook hopes you will be inspired to give to the Japanese Red Cross Society or the American Red Cross.

Here’s some more inspiring food for thought, excerpted from Quakebook:

To support Japan, what I would say is this: Simply do what you do every day, but do it better. Go to school or to work but with passion and energy. Engage your neighbors of community but with more sympathy and compassion than you ever have. Let these historic moments move you, inspire you and invigorate you for as long as the feeling lasts because, believe me, that initial adrenaline and humanitarian solidarity will wear off. Ride it as long as you can. Let it make you be a better person and let it wake you up from the complacency in your life.
    –     Tokyo Twilighter, Tokyo.

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Posted in: Book review