Open, wide open, the Helsinki of the Future

Janne Kareinen, the developer of Arabianranta’s regional model of collaboration, didn’t want to interact with his neighbours when he was young. The birth of his first child took him to a new district, and during his paternity leave he found similar people at the edge of a sandpit. They had similar values and the ability make big things happen by spreading power and responsibility.

These days, several regional projects and mentoring gigs later, Janne enjoys preaching (when asked to) about the openness of information,  the joys of work and even a little bit about the temptation of disobedience.

“At the moment, Helsinki is interesting, lively and multifaceted. I would like to see different actors developing things together even more often. On all levels; decision-makers, officials, different free and organised actors, individual people. Everyone has different experiences and expertise. I wish all of it could be made visible and used.”

According to Janne, in addition to the collaborative development agenda, the openness and transparency of information would also fit the Helsinki brand. Even though some data has been opened, its interpretation, requires applications or someone to interpret the information. The city could have an appointed, well resourced unit that scans and interprets information. At least ten people who would constantly answer questions that residents have about decision-making and all relevant data.

“Even though there is still a long way to go to the ideal situation, a major change has actually already happened. The City of Helsinki has done significant things for opening data. ”

The statement is a flattering acknowledgement of the city, because openness and the spreading of power and information are the cornerstones of the Artova model that Janne has developed. This model has raised interest far and wide, both inside the city organisation and other resident activism and involvement projects, throughout in Central Finland and in Tallinn.


Arabianranta keeps on teaching

Janne Kareinen moved to Arabianranta in 2004 and continues to live there. The first spring there he stayed home with his small child. He found similar people, interested in similar things from the edge of a sandpit.

In 2005 the sandbox crew arranged the first Arabia Street Art Festival as a yard event, with the help of just one household. Doing things together was empowering and reeled Janne in. In 2007 Janne and his friends took over the Arabia Neighbourhood Association – back then it used to be the best way to get to deal with the city. Resident activities of Arabianranta started being renewed. One of the central decisions was: Never complain about anything. If there are things we want changed, we will make suggestions to the city for improvements.

The successful practices and teachings of Artova – the Culture and Neighbourhood Association of Arabianranta, Toukola and Vanhakaupunki – were documented as the project of the year of World Design Helsinki in 2012. These days the Arabia Street Art Festival, which started from one yard, involves 25,000 people. The festival has 22 different sub sector producers, most of them new. The district and its functions renew themselves. The model works.

Janne Kareinen is still partly involved in the operations of Artova, but as his current main job he is building a civic activity centre in Espoo and helping to start up urban city culture in Tapiola.

“The same questions: How do you re-assign power and responsibility? How do you make information transparent so that new people can access the same information? The dissemination of information is the cornerstone of equal collaborative development.”


Text: Anna Pakarinen
Photo: Anna Huovio


Maija Mattila nominated Janne Kareinen as a future maker of Helsinki.