An advanced environmental education program called the "Toyomori Institute of Sustainable Living" was started up in May 2009 in coordination with Toyota City and Support Center for Sustainable Regional Design (NPO). It aims to construct sustainable local communities by connecting cities to Satoyama (forests in the interface between cities and nature that have been utilized by people).
The first-phase period of the Institute was carried out for 30 selected members out of the public applicants in the approximately 20 months from April 2009 to December 2010.
Participants were divided into 10 project teams and assigned to design projects for connecting cities and rural areas. Some of them actually relocated to a mountainous village to start up a furniture craft shop that makes use of local materials and another one returned to her hometown to pursue the production and distribution of pasteurized milk, a business where the faces of producers and consumers are visible. Thus, some graduates launched community-based businesses and some chose new ways of rural living in mountainous villages.
The second phase started in April 2011 and is under way in a mountainous area "Asahi" of Toyota City. It provides lectures, fieldwork and an overnight stay over one weekend every month for two years until March 2013.