Made by the people for the people – New participatory urban culture is blooming in Helsinki

Helsinki – the capital of cold Finland, where people don’t talk to anyone. This is the stereotype often associated with Helsinki, but it is not the whole picture of this city. During the last five or six years Helsinki has changed a lot. Citizens are creating countless of events themselves and making the city in many ways a place they want it to be. Also the city officials have realised the high potential of civic activism and are more and more receptive towards all these actions.

Read the article I wrote for New Europe magazine on participatory urban culture here

Community Management And New Urban Culture

People have taken a more active role as creators of the urban culture in recent years. The urban space is no longer seen as something that only public sector and private companies are allowed to use. Events and projects are not just something that professionals do for the public. In the new urban culture, you don’t always have to have a lot of money and the help of a big organisation to create something meaningful. The new urban culture is open-minded, quick, created with a minimal budget – and done by the community itself.

This article examines the new, communal urban culture in theory and in practice through the case example of the Cleaning Day. It seeks to answer the following questions: How have the ways of communicating changed and how does this change affect communal action? What is the communal creative process like and what does it require from the community manager? What makes people participate and what kind of roles do they play?

Read the full article

Read the original article (in Finnish)



Stories from the Reception Centre

The voice of the asylum seekers is often left unheard in the public debate. We hear a lot about how many refugees are arriving and from which countries, but the people behind the numbers are often left outside. This can cause prejudice against the newcomers, because it is so easy to be afraid of something you don’t know. Many people forget that the refugees are just people who have had to leave their family members and their everyday lives behind.

In the summer of 2015, as the number of the refugees were growing all over Europe I wanted to do my part in affecting the situation. To demonstrate how behind all the numbers and news there are actual people with actual worries, I started the Stories from the Reception Centre project together with some volunteer reporters, photographers and interpreters. We went into the reception centres to interview the inhabitants, to take photographs of them (so that you won’t recognize them) and to post the story formed by these elements into Facebook, in Finnish and in English. By bringing the people and their stories into people’s awareness we wanted to increase the mutual understanding of the Finns and the refugees. The site received a lot of followers and the project got a lot of positive attention. In March-April 2016 there will also be an exhibition based on the project at the culture centre Stoa in eastern Helsinki.


Encounters. People, Stories and Flavours from the Neighbour

What do you get, when you combine Russia with storytelling, photography book and a cook book?

Encounters. People, stories and flavours from the neighbour is a Finnish-Russian project that focuses on normal Russian people, their everyday life, food culture and stories. We travel to different parts of Russia from March until August, and at the end of 2016, this trip will be turned into a book and an exhibition.

Encounters got started from the need to give the voice to normal Russians in a time where the media only gives us stories of big political events and often brings us only negative news. By doing this, the project will also increase people’s understanding and broadens their minds about Russia.

The project will take place in five different areas, Krasnodar, Murmansk, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk and Kazan. The areas were chosen because of their geographical and cultural diversity: they are all located in different parts of Russia and have their own distinctive cultures.

The project team includes  Jaakko Blomberg, Jyrki Tsutsunen, Aleksandra Nenko, Anton Polski, Maria Niemi and a few Russian photographers. The main foundation for the project is given by Kone Foundation and its main collaborator is Cultura Foundation.