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Way of the Warrior-Knight – 1% Sends Its own Samurai to Japan

In Seven Samurai, a classic Japanese film set in sixteenth century Japan, a marauding group of bandits regularly loot a poor village, taking from them their rice harvest – pretend this village is the environment and these bandits are environmentally unconscious businesses. Though poor in monetary resources, the village is rich in spirit. In a last ditch effort to save the town and their livelihoods, some townsfolk venture out in search of some protectors, trained fighters. They end up recruiting seven samurai (all of whom have fallen on hard times) to defend their village – think of these warriors as 1% member companies.

After some lessons in basic village defending, the group of banditos comes back to raise hell. Little do they know, the village (environment) is being protected by these samurai (1% members). The battle eventually subsides and it turns out these 1% member companies (the samurai) have converted all other companies (the bandits)! Environmental stewardship becomes a mainstay in business philosophies worldwide, world peace, etc… Now, obviously that’s not the way it went down (you’ll have to watch the movie to find out), but I think you get the idea. 

In the real world the environment isn’t physically recruiting people to fight in its honor, it’s proverbially beckoning great individuals and companies to become its stewards. All of whom are committed to creating a healthy planet. Just to clear up another misnomer borne from my analogy, the 1% member companies haven’t fallen on hard times, no. In fact, they’re at the cutting edge of a samurai’s blade, and that edge is only getting sharper.

In early February 1% sent its own samurai warriors (CEO, Terry Kellogg and SVP of Marketing, Acquisitions and Partnerships, Melody Badgett) over to Japan for “Make A Difference With 1%” held on February 7th. In total, 173 people attended this event. These participants were represented as 34 1% member companies, 87 prospective companies, two sole proprietors, 17 1% non-profit partners, 12 non-profits, four members of the Japanese Environmental Ministry, 16 members of the media, and one other. Also in attendance were 15 members of Patagonia’s staff, as well as six dedicated Daishinsha (the name of the venue) staff members.


The evening was split into two parts. The earlier half consisted of greetings, a keynote speaker, and panel discussions between current member companies. Keynote speaker, Mr. Hatekeyama, spoke without any visual aides for 45 minutes on a story from his childhood, his travels, his realization that the forests, rivers, ocean and the oysters are all connected, and the devastating effect of the earthquake and tsunami. Much like the samurai who taught the villagers in Seven Samurai, Mr. Hatekeyama had the audience captivated by his talk up to the very end.

Following Mr. Hatekeyama’s talk, three member companies held a panel discussion where they discussed topics ranging from each member’s reason for joining, their hardships, and their strong connection to their chosen recipient. This discussion was made more impactful by the fact that one of the panelists is donating to Mr. Hatekeyama’s non-profit (Forests are Lovers of the Sea) through 1% for the Planet.

The second part of the evening was a positive energy mingle and entertainment session catered by an organic restaurant with close ties to Daishinsha, Yahoo Brewery, and 73, a bar/caterer.

Paired with the wonderful food arrangements, live jazz musician Karen Aoki and a famous pianist played for the reception. Apparently, the pianist brought the audience to their feet, calling for an encore! Obviously the energy was palpable, with members, non-profits, prospective companies, media, and staff all mingling and having great, in-depth discussions centered on 1% for the Planet.

All us samurai at 1% want to thank everyone who attended this awesome event! Always remember to follow the seven virtues of Bushido: Rectitude, Courage, Benevolence, Respect, Honesty, Honor, and Loyalty.

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