Vitality and urban development as themes in the MDI Academy webinar

The MDI Academy met for its second meeting on the 8th May with participants gathering together for a webinar. The day started with a ‘catch up’ session and a reflection on how work and working methods have changed due to the Covid19 crisis.

MDI’s own Tommi Ranta introduced the participants to the theme of the day by giving some tips to regional developers. Namely, regional development needs creative observation. In addition to megatrends, we need to see new smaller beginnings and opportunities that are beneath the surface, from which something great can grow.

In her speech, architect, urbanist and urban activist Laura Sobral presented some interesting examples of how cooperation, co-production and co-governance have taken place around the world. Sobral showed what kinds of bottom-up activities have been enacted in many different areas. She led course participants from São Paulo to Madrid, Bologna and Mexico City. Participants discussed the issue of participatory budgeting, the traditional democratic system and the impact of the Covid19 crisis on the use and development of public spaces. Sobral stated that “people don’t just want to vote, they want to participate!”

Next, we moved on from international waters to the expanses of Seinäjoki. Seinäjoki’s Director of Vitality Erkki Välimäki and Tytti Isokangas discussed the recipe for Seinäjoki’s vitality. Vitality is ‘born through doing’ and the city as an organisation cannot do it alone. Indeed, the city is not the sole player here, its residents and businesses also need to play a major role. According to Välimäki, regional development is a marathon that increasingly requires cooperation.

MDI’s advisor Timo Hämäläinen then addressed changing urbanisation through demography, values, work and innovation. In addition, Hämäläinen discussed the new agendas and challenges related to urban planning. The day ended with Pauliina Seppälä from Citymaalaiset, who reiterated that a confrontation between urban and rural should be avoided rather, what is required is the development of both. Multi-locality thus became one of the biggest topics of discussion.

We thank the speakers and the participants who actively participated in the discussion co-creating a very successful and fruitful day!