Jaakko Blomberg is an urban activist, producer, artist and researcher from Helsinki, Finland. He is specialised in new participatory urban culture, co-creation, social movements and placemaking.
Jaakko works as a freelancer and has been creating many initiatives such as Helsinki Urban Art, an association that enlivens urban environments. It introduces new ways of using urban space and solves problems by means of art and activism.
Jaakko is also one of the founders of Yhteismaa (Common Ground) NGO, cooperative Vegan grill kiosk and many events. These include for example a national flea market day, setting up a table for a thousand people to eat in the middle of a street, art exhibitions and theatre in homes, a day of open saunas and pop up restaurants. Although his activities vary a lot, they are all linked in some way to urban space, people and community.
Through his projects Jaakko has been turning the city into a more vibrant and communal place. For his actions he was awarded in 2016 the Citizen of the Year and Helsinki Travel Award.
Helsinki has changed a lot in the 2010s. The citizens have taken action to change the city into a place they want it to be. The city has also responded to the cultural change and the rise of the new participatory urban culture. But it did not happen without growing pains.
A few years ago, the city officials often saw civic activism as extra work for themselves. The attitude towards the new kind of independent events was skeptical and the positive effects were often overshadowed by the possible negative ones.
But soon the potential of civic activism for the city, social well-being and even for the economy and tourism were recognized. Now the new branding strategy of the city is based on people, change and cooperation.
In my keynote, I will show through concrete examples how this change has happened. Why people now want to do more by themselves and how they want to participate? How can cities support citizens in their actions? And what is the recipe for success in doing together?