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The Low2No project is designed to help transition our cities to a low carbon future. We aim to balance economy, ecology and society through strategic investments and interventions in the built environment.

Low2No Camp: the making of urban entrepreneurs

A guest post by Outi Kuittinen of Demos Helsinki reporting on this week's Low2No Camp round table:

Low carbon living is about low-energy buildings, superb public transport and smart metres. It is also about groups and individuals that make our cities more beautiful, more flexible, more satisfying, more democratic and more sustainable. Low2No Camp organised by Demos Helsinki with support from Sitra, started this May by bringing together 25 passionate urban activists from Helsinki. To feed their imagination and to raise their bar higher, we shipped them to Berlin in a cargo ship to teach and to learn how to make our cities more sustainable and better to live. Back in Helsinki, we asked them to build their solution for a sustainable city and let them loose.

In summer months the campers were busy organizing their usual stuff like Helsinki Night Bike Rides, Ravintolapäivä (Restaurant day), Kallio Block Party, Punajuuri Block Party and farming urban vegetables. But on those hot days they also scribbled a lot of Post-its, discussed over Facebook, met face to face and sketched presentations thinking and thinking how to scale up what they are doing.

This week in Jätkäsaari they came out to potential partners. What we saw was our urban enthusiasts grown into urban entrepreneurs. They want to change the way we produce our food, use our space, dress ourselves and think of our possibilities to make the city our own. We are very proud to present 100 Ways to Eden, Hukkatila Ltd, pukuhuone.fi, School of Activism and Aquaponics Finland.

What is common to these ventures is that they don't do it all ready for us but enable us, the citizens of the city, to do ourselves.

100 ways to Eden is a cooperative that scales up urban farming. First they will take Pasila and create an urban farming centre in an old railway yard. It will harbour education, research and development on urban farming, plus exhibitions, food markets and gastronomic experiences. Next they will take Europe and Russia.

Hukkatila Ltd is a development company exploring the blue ocean of built environment: the mis- and underused square- and cubicmetres of the city. That is, for example the offices outside working hours, the basements of block of flats, derelict houses, areas waiting for the construction to start. The streetwise experts of Hukkatila will couple these spaces with right users in need, develop concepts to bring the space alive and invest in building the activity.

Pukuhuone.fi (The Dressing room) believes that in ethical and ecological consumption clothes are the new food. Pukuhuone.fi is a web-based service that helps us to develop our own style by providing well-edited inspiration, bringing us the providers that offer quality and style instead of fashion and throwawayism, enabling us to lend and rent clothes and telling how to take care of our belongings.

School of Activism continues what Low2No Camp started. It builds networks of passionate actors and seeds urban activism where its needed. It travels to help local people to solve the problems of their city. From the point of view of the public sector, School of Activism helps to commit the citizens to their city and to bring about fresh solutions. For companies it offers new creative contacts and ideas.

Aquaponics Finland is a closed system of food production that supplies us with plenty of fish and vegetables – grown in our homes, schools and neighborhoods. And it does it with 70% less energy compared to the normal cultivation.

These urban start-ups are out and they are serious. Want to help them fly? Check their contact details on their presentations or contact them through Outi: outi.kuittinen(at)demos.fi.

Thanks Outi!

September 23rd, 2011

Posted by: Justin W. Cook

Category: Field Reports