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The Voice of Rural Developers 2014


FINNISH COUNTRYSIDE 2014 Survey of 2014 shows that the Finnish countryside is like mosaic. ROOTS OF LEADER WORK Quality of Leader work is gaining speed, with the objectives to ensure application of uniform values and models of operation. LOCAL ELECTRICITY Active members of a village association want to study the consumption of electrical energy.

EDITORIAL Rural and urban areas need genuine interaction

Professor Eero Uusitalo has been the chairperson of the Village Action Association of Finland since 1995 and is also the editor-in-chief of Rural Plus magazine. Uusitalo retired from the Ministry of Employment and the Economy and from Rural Policy Committee in summer 2012, and now has more time to spend with his family and grandchildren, but with village and Leader matters, too. Email: Tel: +358 405 419 916

"It resolves local problems...promotes civic action and local associations in many ways. So why do people in urban areas shun or even outright resist Leader? "


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When discussing rural and urban areas, the media tend to focus more on their differences than their affinity. This is irksome because plenty of new ideas and results could be achieved if their common benefits were taken into account. The most recent development programme of the Village Action Association of Finland lists four ways of working in local development: village action, city district action, Leader approach and neighbourhood democracy. These can have useful interaction in practical development work. Village and city district associations are both interested in influencing the decision-making of the local municipality in local issues that influence the local people, promoting communality in events and by means of communication, and resolving everyday problems of the neighbourhood. The only clear difference between rural and urban areas are themes, and the themes are different because of the different needs. Themes are not an important issue that would make the development work different or hamper cooperation. Leader is a method suited for a variety of areas. It resolves local problems, assists young businesses and start-ups, and promotes civic action and local associations in many ways. So why do people in urban areas shun or even outright resist Leader? City dwellers are made subordinate to the decisions of the local administration – the city or the province – whereas the public and private sector in rural areas work together and offer equal resources for the common good. People in rural and urban areas should not be any different from each other as citizens living in a democratic society. But that is still the case, which is a disservice to the city dwellers. The EU's justified goal of expanding Leader also to cities seems to have been welcomed with reluctance by the member

states. The opposition is most often rooted in the administration. We should end this episode of unfounded reluctance as soon as possible so that Leader could be used everywhere regardless of the type of the area. This is what democracy needs, and it would improve the results obtained from local development. Neighbourhood democracy refers to activity based on an agreement between civic actors and the public administration. It is one of the key elements of local development. Naturally, local development cannot be built merely on village or city district associations or Leader. Instead, the basis of neighbourhood democracy is the broad field of local actors. People taking responsibility for the local development are the key in securing the success of neighbourhood democracy. These are the people who actually make the shared decisions come true. Municipalities should arrange for neighbourhood democracy in their sparsely and densely populated areas alike to encourage local actors to take on more responsibility and act. There are only a few actual differences between rural and urban areas. Should we not work together to promote local development? This would benefit three parties: people living in urban areas, people living in rural areas and the municipality, the common element for these two population groups. This network of four elements would also mean something to be studied together by rural and urban researchers. It is more than likely that the cooperation of the researchers will lead to new results, which will shake the boundary between rural and urban areas. The interaction will be very fruitful once the prohibitive administrative and programme limits have been torn down. Eero Uusitalo





The Voice of Local Deveploment 2014

Editor-in-Chief Eero Uusitalo Tel. 040 541 9916 Managing Editor&Layout&Orders Pipsa Salolammi Willa Elsa, Meijeritie 2 25410 Suomusjärvi Printed in Sälekarin Kirjapaino Oy, Somero, Finland ISSN 1457-7240

rural and urban areas need genuine interaction 2 finnish village action in the international arena 4 highlights of the finnish presidency in elard 5 what is the current status of finnish countryside? 6 Scientifically about the praxis of rural areas 7

rural policy committee 8 exploring the roots of leader action 12 professor of the year pertti alasuutari 13

success through co-operation 14


how can rural areas be renewed? 16

Cover Eero Pitkänen

in a small municipality all services are nearby 20

innovative ideas while respecting the past 18

keistiö wants local electricity 22 Finns exploring village renewal in Northern Ireland 24 Campaign to speed up local tourism 25 triple innovations needed 26

The Village Action Association of Finland (SYTY) protects the interests of local development organisations, villages and LAGs. SYTY works in close cooperation with the Finnish Parliament, ministries and authorities. SYTY provides its members training, consulting, project support, communication services and legal advice.

The Finnish Rural Network brings together the various actors involved in the rural development programmes, including Leader action groups, associations, advisory organisations and other stakeholders. Network builds new links and creates new forms of cooperation.

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COLUMN by the Secretary General KANNANOTTO

Finnish village action in the international arena International activity illustrates the values and ethical principles behind the Finnish village action. Democracy, openness, respect for diversity, local identity, local culture, solidarity, equality and communalism are the basic values of international village action as well. Multiculturalism is a good starting point for the international actions, and promotion of multiculturalism is also important from the viewpoint of social policy. The world-wide work of the Village Action Association of Finland (SYTY) includes two operations areas. It refers to direct benefit and services to those participating in the international activity, i.e. utilising international activity to obtain experience, views, new operations methods, information, cooperation partners and shared projects. On the other hand, it also refers to influencing the global operations environment because that environment always has an impact on local developers and the preconditions. With its available resources, SYTY assists its members and cooperation partners in finding new international connections.

Risto Matti Niemi has worked as the Secretary General in Finnish Village Action Association since 2006. He is also actively involved in the city district action. puh. 050 599 5229


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SYTY, and through it the village action movement and local development, are members and active parties in several European rural cooperation organisations: ELARD, ERA, ERCA, HNSL and PREPARE. ELARD (European LEADER Association for Rural Development, Vice-President Petri Rinne) aims at promoting the Leader method. All of the 55 Finnish LAGs are members of ELARD through SYTY. SYTY is closely involved in its activities and wishes to make ELARD a supervisor of European interests that will better serve the Finnish LAGs, promote Leader and be a member of the new ERCA. The Czech Republic will be the President state of ELARD in 2014 when Finland becomes the Vice-President state. ERA (European Rural Alliance, secretary Peter Backa) is the voice of civic society, villages and residents of rural areas in the EU. It was established and registered in Finland in 2005. ERA has merged with ERCA (the European Rural Community Association). The new organisation's name since the beginning of 2014 has been ERCA (European Rural Communities Alliance). The new ERCA has merged the functional and political goals, which means that it is a better organised supporter of villages and residents of rural areas. ERCA's registered office is in Sweden. ERA will still complete all the projects started in 2014, and the merger will not be official

until this happens. ERCA (European Rural Community Association, member of the Board of Directors Kim Smedslund) is an association of village movement in Europe. It was established in the spring of 2008 based on a policy decision, and it was registered in the Swedish register of associations in 2009. ERCA's activities as a village action promoter in the EU member states or states applying for membership will be promoted. The annual general meeting held in November 2013 confirmed the merger of ERA and ERCA this year. HNSL (Hela Norden ska Leva, member of the Board of Directors Risto Matti Niemi) include SYTY's key partners, its Nordic sister organisations, such as Hela Sverige Ska Leva (HSSL) and the Swedish and Danish rural network units. HNSL was registered in 2008 in the Swedish register of associations. The member states are the President by turns. Sweden will continue as the President state in 2014. PREPARE (Partnership for Rural Europe, contact person Kim Smedslund) is an unofficial expert network of rural development organisations. Its goal is to create new networks of civic organisations in countries that wish to become EU member states. At present, it focuses on the Balkans. PREPARE's recent cooperation with Russia is a very important issue for Finland. PREPARE will continue to have representatives in EU's advisory bodies and it will remain in operation at least until the end of 2014. The Village Action Association of Finland is involved in international activity where European activity structures are being created and the position of local rural development is being promoted by means of social policy. The basic idea of the international activity is trying to understand the culture in other countries and resolve any conflicts even before they appear. This can be done based on mutual friendship and peaceful coexistence of different nations. Risto Matti Niemi


Highlights of the Finnish presidency in ELARD The three-year term of Finland as the President of the European LEADER Association for Rural Development (ELARD) ended as the next President, Mr Radim Srsen of the Czech Republic, took the reins on January 27th in Brussels. The former President, Executive Director Petri Rinne of Joutsenten Reitti ry, will continue as an active member and the Vice-President of ELARD. The Village Action Association of Finland funded the presidency of Finland in 2011–2013 and was closely involved in the activity. ELARD accomplished a series of important goals during the Finnish presidency: for instance, it became a leading European organisation in rural development and had an active role in the consultations and negotiations for the 2014–2020 programme period by promoting the Leader method and supporting CLLD's multi fund model. ELARD was also successfully expanded to new member states.

MAIL FROM THE VICE PRESIDENT Petri Rinne, ELARD vice president 2014 (ELARD president in 2011-2013).

Old President reminiscing During the ELARD presidency of Finland in 2011–2013, local development has become a more and more important issue in the EU and outside the EU. Analysts say that implementation of the EU Lisbon Strategy failed because the member states, regions and local communities had not been made committed enough in its goals. The EU does not wish to repeat this mistake in the case of the Europe 2020 strategy, and this is why Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) has been expanded from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development to structural and fisheries funds. This opens up new possibilities for downwards up development in the EU social, urban and fisheries policies. Global actors, such as the World Bank Group (Community Driven Development) and FAO, have ratified their local development programmes which clearly exceed the budget set for the EU programmes. The number one goal during the Finnish presidency was promoting the Leader method and expanding it both thematically and geographically. Over the years, we were invited to several committees of the Commission and local developer networks to discuss the concrete results and impact of the work by the 2,300 LAGs in the EU. The most important of these were probably an expert group led by Paul Soto on drafting new CLLD guidelines for the new programme period, a focus group of the European Network for Rural Development on improving the development strategies of LAGs and their implementation, and

an European agriculture innovation partnership steering group. In addition to authorities, we worked in cooperation with Members of the European Parliament. For instance, a meeting with Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos from the Agriculture Committee was very useful for securing the 5% funding share reserved for rural Leader. The Parliament also recommended that cooperation between LAGs of the EU and developing countries be increased in connection with the CAP reform. Increasing the significance of ELARD would have been impossible without simultaneous expansion of the membership base, which was also one of the key goals during Finland's presidency. Several trips led to the addition of the new member states Macedonia, Croatia, Sweden, Slovakia, Denmark and Estonia. Furthermore, the membership base in the United Kingdom, Poland and Hungary clearly increased. ELARD now represents a total of twenty-two European countries and 1,070 LAGs. A concrete objective set for the Finnish presidency period was promoting international cooperation between LAGs. A personnel exchange programme between LAGs started in 2011. It aims at promoting international interaction and cooperation projects by allowing people to establish personal relationships with people from other countries. Based on an initiative of Finland, the first ELARD meeting was arranged in the summer of 2011 in Sastamala, Finland. The meeting became an annual event. The plan is to arrange the first meeting during

the presidency of the Czech Republic in Brussels in April 2014. After having experienced a lot in Brussels and in the member states during the past three years, I can honestly say that the concrete messages from the grass root level are often heard by ministers and commissioners. In many meetings, I have been the only practitioner who has been able to offer actual practical examples of innovative rural projects or the establishment of new jobs or businesses. I hope that ELARD will continue to be such an expert and network builder that operates outside the traditional hierarchy. There will be plenty of politicians and officials to come up with new policies, strategies and funds also in the next programme period, but we also need the people who will actually implement these ideas and have the answers to the questions of how and when. My greatest fear is that practitioners will be even harder to find during the new programme period. We must not end up in the same situation as in the late 1990s in Finland when Ms Tarja Cronberg, the Provincial Director of North Karelia, said that the new EU indicative programme is great but the entire population of North Karelia would have to be replaced in order for it to work there. Finally, I would like to thank on behalf of our entire membership base the Finnish Rural Policy Committee, the rural network, the Council of Tampere Region and the Village Action Association of Finland – I would never have become the President if it wasn't for your support! Petri Rinne RURAL+ 3/2013



What is the current status of Finnish countryside?


And what does its future look like? The Finnish Rural Survey of 2014 shows that the Finnish countryside is like mosaic. The facts that many of the people living in rural areas are elderly and the population is sparse can also be seen as strong drivers of innovation that will motivate people, and partially also force them, to be innovative. Rural areas are innovative as such: almost the same number of innovations as in urban areas are generated, but they are different in nature.

On the other hand, you can see that many rural areas are now first and foremost living areas. The significance of leisure homes continues to increase in rural areas. Even though permanent residences are clustered, leisure homes are located in a wider area. People's lives tend to focus in more than one place: many people live, work and use money in both rural and urban areas. The strengths and resources of rural and urban areas complement and benefit each other. Mutual connections and the significance of partnership are increasing, partly because consolidations of municipalities have created rural towns, i.e. combinations of extensive rural areas combined with an urban centre. The availability of services has deteriorated in rural areas. Even though services are now farther away, a little over 50% of the respondents of a citizen survey targeted to permanent residents of rural areas in Finland stated that they can quickly and easily get the services they need in their own municipality. Rural areas are important commercial areas: 40% of Finnish businesses are located 6

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in rural areas. The number of businesses not involved in agriculture or farming has increased in all of the Finnish rural areas. Rural areas have a lot of business potential in, for instance, bioeconomy, food production, tourism and wellbeing services. This will make rural areas even more important in the future. Rural residents believe in the opportunities available in their areas: around 65% of the citizen survey respondents believed that the future of rural areas is bright. Those that were most sceptical live in the most sparsely populated rural areas. Finns' perceptions about rural areas are positive

The Finnish Rural Survey of 2014 strongly highlights the fact that Finns believe the Finnish countryside to be a dynamic area where new kinds of services and businesses can be developed, and these new businesses can be combined with the peace of the wilderness and other elements needed for a good life. People tend to associate an

environmentally friendly way of life more with rural than with urban areas, and only a few negative issues, such as stress or being a burden to the national economy, are associated with rural areas. People feel that living in the countryside is an attractive alternative, and there is demand for homes in rural areas. One in every three respondents would like to live in the countryside, but only one in every five currently live there. More than half of the respondents live in large cities, but only 38% of them said that they want to continue living there. 24% of Finns consider themselves to be countryside dwellers at heart, while 36% consider themselves to be both city and countryside dwellers. The Finnish countryside identity is strong, also among city dwellers, particularly when considering the fact that 69% of all Finns live in urban areas.



Scientifically about the praxis of rural areas The Finnish Society for Rural Research and Development (MUA) has promoted Finnish rural research and rural development for almost fifteen years. Researchers, office-holders and developers share their thoughts in annual meetings and on the pages of the MUA periodical. It also has an important social role in sharing research data. To separate themselves from agriculture, researchers wished to establish their own periodical on rural development in the early 1990s. The idea was to expand the perspective from agriculture to rural areas in general. This is how the periodical Maaseudun Uusi Aika was born. To secure consistency and continuity, a decision to establish the Finnish Society for Rural Research and Development to manage the periodical was made in 1999. The periodical includes scientific articles and less scientific articles, book and movie reviews, and interviews. The idea is to cover extensive scientific studies or datasets in more detail or in a more pragmatic manner than in the actual research reports or theses and to discuss topical issues about rural areas or rural research. The periodical is published three or four times a year. Meetings of the like-minded

Many respondent groups were of the opinion that the significance of rural areas for Finland will continue to strongly increase. People consider rural areas to have plenty of potential for developing current and new business opportunities. They consider the opportunities for renewable energy production, local food and related services, and recreational and tourism services to be especially good. People feel that rural areas are a good operating environment for an innovative entrepreneur. The respondents are strongly in favour of developing rural areas. Almost all Finns are of the opinion that everybody should be offered the opportunity to live where they want to live. Hanna-Mari Kuhmonen Senior Officer, Rural Affairs Rural Policy Committee/Ministry of Employment and the Economy

The first rural researcher meetings were arranged in the early 1990s. They passionately wished to study the world from the rural viewpoint. Over the years, these meetings of a few people have expanded to the annual Rural Meeting of almost a hundred rural researchers, developers and office-holders. The Rural Meeting is arranged every August somewhere in Finland. Anybody interested in rural areas is welcome. The meeting will be arranged in Pieksämäki this year. The previous meeting places include Mikkeli, Utö, S:t Karins, Karstula, Kuhmo and Paltamo. One of the most rewarding features of the Rural Meeting is that it offers a forum for researchers, developers and authorities to regularly meet and discuss research results and future research needs. Why is rural research necessary?

News about rural areas most often involve people who receive huge farming subsidies, wolves found in unwanted areas, long distances or animal transport. To provide more analytical and versatile information about rural areas, we must generate such information by means of research. Research and research results are deemed very important by Finns and they are a huge factor in Finnish decision-making: people tend to invoke research results when preparing or justifying decisions. The fact that there is more research data and less assumptions has increased the importance of rural areas, but there is still plenty of work to be done in raising the general level of rural knowledge. We all need to do our share! The Finnish Society for Rural Research and Development wishes to do its share by promoting rural research. Heli Siirilä Member of the Board of the Finnish Society for Rural Research and Development since 2009 RURAL+ 2014



Rural Policy Committee More than 500 people from several ministries and other organisations participate in the whole network of the Rural Policy Committee (YTR). YTR aims at promoting wellbeing in rural areas. The Rural Policy Committee has been working for over 20 years. During the next few years it is trying out new operating methods and the goal is to create a good foundation for the work of YTR during the next term starting in 2015. The new thematics networks of YTR and their managing specialists are represented on these spreads. In addition Ms Hanna-Mari Kuhmonen, Ms Laura Jänis, Ms Ritva Hakkarainen and Ms Christell Åström from the Ministry of Employment and the Economy work as YTR secretaries. This large network does important job in promoting the status of rural areas and provides current information and tools for the decision-makers.

YTR networks implementing the Countryside of Opportunities 2014-2020 New networks of the Rural Policy Committee have started their work. The networks do their part in implementing the Rural Policy Programme 2014–2020, called "The Countryside of Opportunities". The themes are: • • • • • • •


Civic action Quality of life Land use and infrastructure Livelihood and competence Ecosystem services Sparsely populated rural areas Identity-based networking

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According to Ms Laura Jänis, Senior Officer and YTR Secretary, the networks are more or less based on the work of the around a dozen themed groups that were active in YTR in the past. These five themes on rural policy and two horizontal themes have been selected to be able to work more flexibly and attract new actors to YTR. For example, the new host organisation of the Ecosystem Services Network will be the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, which will now take a more active role in rural policy. All interested parties are welcome to join any of the networks, Ms Jänis says. The reorganisation of the themed groups to more extensive networks was prepared parallel with the preparation of the programme itself. The operating methods were reformed partially due to an external audit of YTR that was completed a couple of years ago.


civic action network The Civic Action Network of YTR aims at making neighbourhood democracy more functional in rural areas, promoting an active civic society and promoting cooperation between civic actors and municipalities to make local development strong and allow people and associations in rural areas to genuinely participate in the development and decision-making of their local society and environment.

“My specialities include issues pertaining to neighbourhood democracy, civic action and the third sector.” Ritva Pihlaja

Specialist Ritva Pihlaja

"Community-Led Local Development is very important when developing rural areas. It consists of skills, know-how, competence, influence and locally important results. My specialty is Leader: I have worked with the approach for my entire career." Sanna Sihvola

Special Advisor Sanna Sihvola Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry

quality of life network Quality of Life Network wishes to offer people a better opportunity to live in rural areas. Network aims at, for instance, retaining the necessary basic services in rural areas and making sure that these services are designed based on the local needs.

“It would be great if the network became an important promoter of versatile living and service solutions that are based on the local citizens and local economy." Marika Kettunen

“I hope that the network will become a forum where people can comprehensively consider information about rural services and the quality of life in rural areas. And provide information, including tacit knowledge, to the administration, Specialist Heli Talvitie Ministry of Education and Culture politics and devel- opers." Heli Talvitie

Specialist Marika Kettunen National Institute for Health and Welfare

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LIVELIHOOD AND COMPETENCE network “We will provide the preconditions needed to promote business competence of entrepreneurs in rural areas to make people more willing in investing in rural areas and to ensure that rural businesses will have the competent workforce they need. We will achieve these goals by securing the availability of diverse education." Heidi Valtari Specialist Heidi Valtari University of Turku, Brahea Centre for Training and Development

"I myself have an extensive international network consisting of businesses, research institutes, educational establishments and development organisations, particularly in the wholefoods, nature tourism, nature and landscape services, game and green care sectors. Heidi's competence lies more in the development of food sector entrepreneurship." Juha Rutanen

Specialist Juha Rutanen University of Helsinki, Ruralia Institute

"My strengths lie in a comprehensive knowledge of the nature, landscape and culture in rural areas. I am also an expert in the commercialisation of services based on these." Airi Matila

Specialist Kati Pitkänen Finnish Environment Institute

Specialist Airi Matila Forestry Development Centre


" We want to use these themes to bring into the public eye issues in which rural areas should focus in the future. I'm particularly interested in the opportunities offered by the green economy in rural areas, and I have extensive experience in research of recreation and tourism in rural areas." Kati Pitkänen

The network promotes ecosystem services and green growth as the basis of business activity and wellbeing in rural areas. This year, the network focuses on two themes: natural and cultural landscapes in rural areas as the source of green growth as well as regulation and management of ecosystem services in rural areas.


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”Village and project planning, cooperation between villages and municipalities, and communal development are issues close to my heart. The fact that I have a degree in forestry ensures my forest sector and environmental competence.” Tarja Lukkari

SPARSELY POPULATED RURAL AREAS Network 68.3% of the land area of Finland is sparsely populated rural areas, but only 6% of Finns live in these areas. The Sparsely Populated Rural Areas Network studies this challenging area in a comprehensively manner. The sparsely populated area includes plenty of natural resources that could be utilised in tangible and intangible ways. Their utilisation requires a functional infrastructure, services, taking into account the vulnerability of the nature and making sure that people who live in the area are taken into account. A special focus area is offering fast telecommunications connections and electronic services to the residents of these areas.

Specialist Tarja Lukkari Kajaani University of Applied Sciences

INFRASTRUCTURE AND LAND USE network Rural infrastructure and land use in rural areas have a key role in the achievement of many social goals. For example, a functional road network, telecommunications networks, electricity grid, water supply system and land use control are needed to secure the production of sustainable energy and high-quality local food. The Infrastructure Network will provide new infrastructure-related partners for rural policy, continue the development of land use and offer its opinions on land use and infrastructure policies in rural areas. Network's specialist is Ms Heli Siirilä and her deputy at present is Ms Auli Sihvola.

Specialist Auli Sihvola

identity-based network Rural policy is mostly handled in Finland via networks. The Rural Policy Committee (YTR) is like the shaft: its themed networks and horizontal networks are the contacts to the actors. The themed and horizontal networks are, for natural reasons, different from each other, because their tasks and operating environments are different. You can say that they are absolutely necessary for the YTR system to work, but you cannot accurately describe them. IDNET – the Identity-Based Network – focuses on activating groups that are based on a specific identity to do active work to promote rural areas. It also offers these groups a voice in the rural policy.

Specialist Peter Backa Swedish Study Centre in Finland

"The place-based thinking should become the norm in rural policy and also in other policies. My special interests include development of rural policy and democracy." Peter Backa

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The Rural Network of Finland

Text: The Rural network unit Photos: Staart Oy, Benjamin Heikkinen

Exploring the roots of Leader action During the programme period 2007−2013 the Leader initiative has been at the focus of extensive development. After a few initial hiccups, the ongoing work to boost the quality of Leader work is gaining speed, with the objective of the development work being to ensure application of uniform values and models of operation, along with consistent quality of action throughout Finland. We also want to develop our activities further and minimise risk. In each region, broadly the same principles will be followed in the quality development work, but the regions will have opportunities to influence the tailoring of the programme to reflect each region’s specific needs. Network Co-ordinator Juha-Matti Markkola explains that one key objective of the Leader quality development project is for each Leader group to produce a quality handbook as an outcome of the full process. ‘The handbook will describe in a dynamic and tangible way the key tasks in the quality-related process. All of the quality handbooks follow the same format, but each Leader group details the specifics of its core processes’ content and formulates the model for managing customer and regional co operation,’ he explains. Regional authorities work closely with the Leader groups. Feedback from the regional authorities indicates that, there is still great variation in the functioning of, on the one hand, the interface between the Leader groups and the regional authorities, on the other hand, the shared processes. In some cases, the collaboration has evolved well, but areas remain in which dialogue needs further work and the shared processes must be put in place. According to Mr Markkola, the role of regional authorities in clarifying the decision-making process is a vital one. ‘The preparatory training for the implementation of the quality framework focuses specifically on describing the handling, granting, and payment processes, alongside delineation of the roles of the various operators. With an eye to the future, it is important that experts 12

from the regional authorities participate in adopting and specifying the interface processes,’ he explains. Active exploitation of the outcomes of the Leader branding work

In the ongoing Leader branding work, Leader’s main target groups have been identified, as have the messages directed to these groups, and a common slogan and public image have been created and the


Leader Web site developed. In the future, the material reflecting the graphical image of Leader will be made available in the image bank. Communications Officer Marjut Haapanen, from the Satakunta region LAGs, is excited about the launch of the brand building work, Ms Haapanen, who has been a mover and shaker in the branding process, says: ‘In February, we started the launch effort process, which will ensure that the brand content is rolled out throughout Finland in an efficient and commensurate way. With this in mind, the regions will be provided with a training package produced by the advertising agency Staart.’ This spring, the new website will be completed. Communications Officer Pipsa Salolammi, from the Village Action Association of Finland, will act as the Website’s editor-in-chief. will retain its status as the central communication channel for the rural development programme and for Leader programme activities. The site serves as the forum for marketing of Leader work. Leader open-door events will be held all over the country on 9–15 June. The week in June will see local Leader groups hold ‘open houses’ at the Leader-funded sites in their regions. ‘We already know that in that week the region of Kainuu from Northern Finland will be represented on Helsinki’s Senate Square, and Leader will be taking part. Open Doors forms part of the general publicising of the outcomes of Leader activities and of the launch of the new Leader image,’ Mr Markkola concludes.

New Leader brand presented at the Farm Fair 2013.

RESEARCH Photo: Sakari Piippo

Professor of the year Pertti Alasuutari:

The charm of living in the countryside lies in the village community Sociologist and Professor in Sociology Pertti Alasuutari, who was named the Professor of the Year in January, has studied people's associations about rural areas. His studies have revealed that people's perceptions about the countryside are outdated. Professor Alasuutari says that the communality you can find in rural areas and village communities are an important part of the charm of living in the countryside. Rural areas have experienced a change. Nowadays, most people living in the countryside have nothing to do with agriculture, but people still strongly associate these two. "My studies have revealed that the perceptions of Finns about the countryside are outdated. People still think that those living in rural areas are slightly slower and different from urban dwellers. And people really strongly associate agriculture with the countryside. On the other hand, public discussion about rural areas in the 21st century has started to better reflect the fact that most of the people living in rural areas actually work in cities." Professor Alasuutari says that the people living in rural areas are, in fact, not different from those living in the suburbs. They

just have larger yards and more peace and quiet than those living in terraced houses. Professor Alasuutari lives in the countryside himself, in Lempäälä. The Alasuutaris ended up moving from Pirkkala close to the city of Tampere to a lakeside plot in Lempäälä when they wanted to combine their home with their summer cottage. Professor Alasuutari is involved in several committees of the local village association and participated in drafting of the village plan. This means that people's images about living in rural areas are actually wrong. On the other hand, says Professor Alasuutari, it is just this romantic idea of the countryside that makes many people move to rural areas. "I would like to see more studies about the everyday life in rural areas. We need a proper research programme that includes diverse research about the 'lifestyle-based' migration from the suburbs to more sparsely populated areas and its impact." Pipsa Salolammi Village Action Association of Finland RURAL+ 2014


The Rural Network of Finland

Text and photos: The Rural Network Unit

SUCCESS THROUGH CO-OPERATION The theme for the 2014 Rural Development Programme for Mainland Finland is ‘Success through Co-operation’. Within this framework, actors will be prepared for a new and more smoothly run programme period, while the results from the current period will be publicised, the best practice revealed will be implemented, and lessons learnt from experiences to date will be shared. Once the new rural development programme has been approved, the marketing of funding will start in earnest. On the revamped Website, information will target very specifically defined groups. The aim is to encourage people to think in depth about how they personally can benefit from the rural development programme and to discover things they can do for rural communities themselves.

The RURAL van on highways and byways

The Rural Van (Landepaku) roadshow, which was so warmly received in 2011, will be taking to the road again, this time in the form of a mobile shop. The summer tour will spread information on the regional outcomes of the rural development programme and on the opportunities offered by the new programme. The aim is to whip up enthusiasm for rural development at the start of the new programme period. The Finnish Rural Network Unit sought tenders for the touring van and driver. After this stage, suitable tour routes for the coming summer season were sorted out in collaboration with the project manager. The Finnish Rural Network Unit implemented the tour in co-operation with the Leader groups, regional authorities and village activists.

"The 2014 competition, being launched in February, will compile the most impressive brainwaves, at both regional and national level"

Rural Van tour: it is up to the regions themselves to determine how each region’s special character can be brought to the fore in the respective Landepaku tour. They also need to decide on the selection of local food products that will be available from the mobile shop. Five innovation camps, all over Finland

In 2014, five new regional innovation camps 14


are being organised by the Rural Network Unit. Participants develop strategically significant priorities in accordance with regional development plans and resolve challenges that have been identified in relation to these priorities. The work is carried out in collaboration with each individual region’s experts and also visiting experts. Network Co-ordinator Hanna Lilja talks about the preparations for upcoming innovation camps: ‘In December, last year’s camp participants and the implementers of this year’s camps convened in Helsinki at SummaSemma, a seminar to gather the experiences gained from past innovation camps. The camps’ “old hands” gave tips to the “new kids on the block” on how best to implement the plans. They also recounted the outcomes of last summer’s innovation camps.’ Every single camp proved to be a unique experience, and each region was more than happy with the results. ‘It was really nice to exchange memories, especially as we realised that many of the sparks from the campfires have ignited ongoing action, with lots of tangible benefits for the regions concerned. This means that the innovation camps have met their targets,’ she assures. At the SummaSemma seminar, the parties implementing the 2014 camps reached an agreement with strategic development consultancy MDI, which runs the camps, on communication and planning events, at which MDI will discuss with each region’s stakeholders and organisers the basic idea behind the innovation camps just as much as the camps’ implementation. The discussions will focus on the basic concept of the camps, their specific contents, and the targets. Potential participants, supporters, and judges will also be discussed, and MDI will offer regional assistance in the recruitment of participants and also with communication and the practical arrangements.

The Rural Network of Finland "The Rural Network Unit invites you to be part of the innovation camp"

The first of the 2014 innovation camps will be held on the premises of the Pjukala folkhögsskolan school on 17−19 March. This Swedish-language camp’s theme will be ‘Borders provide opportunities’. A three-day camp in the region of Central and Northern Ostrobothnia will start on 1 April, under the theme ‘The young, entrepreneurs, and the countryside’. The venue is the Törmälä Farm Hostel, in Siikajoki. In May comes the turn of the Northern Savo camp, where discussions will centre on the theme ‘Nature, well-being, and tourism’. The camp for the Ostrobothnia and Southern Ostrobothnia regions will take place in early June. Its topic will be ‘Regional and local economies’, and the focus will be on identifying new livelihood opportunities. A boat trip is required for reaching the Satakunta and Vakka Suomi camp, to be held on 9–11 September: the location is the fortress island Kuuskajaskari, in the Baltic Sea. The theme for the final camp is ‘New products and models for development of the food sector’. ‘The scripts for the innovation camps are being written in the spring, but the camp experience, the special atmosphere, and the results born of the experience are completely personal and tied to the location,’ says an enthusiastic Lilja. You can keep an eye on the innovation camps throughout the year on the Website, on the Facebook updates of the Rural Network Unit and via the innovation blog. The Rural Network Unit invites you to be part of the innovation camp for Ostrobothnia and Southern Ostrobothnia, Northern and Central Ostrobothnia, Northern Savo, Varsinais-Suomi, or Satakunta and Vakka-Suomi.

for the 2014 competition by visiting the Website for a compilation from previous competitions. You can check out the database of best practice gathered over the years. The Rural Gala, to be held on 29 October 2014 at Lahti’s Sibelius Hall, will be the culmination of the Rural Network Unit’s work. This splendid venue will offer fitting surroundings for celebration of the rural development that has been implemented over the course of the programme period. It is here that the winners of the third Best Practices competition, the last one held in this programme period, will be announced.

Because the Rural Gala is held in conjunction with a seminar, rural developers from the whole rural development programme will have every opportunity to network over the course of a week of thinking and sharing in October.

The Rural Van tour 2011 also took the opportunity to spread information on the results of the local rural development work and the outcomes of the national rural development programme.

Celebration of the most lustrous pearls of rural development work

As in 2010 and 2012, so also in 2014 the Best Practices competition will uncover the true gems from the development work. The 2014 competition, being launched in February, will compile the most impressive brainwaves, at both regional and national level, to come out of the 2007–2013 rural development programme. These innovations will be disseminated throughout the rural network. You can get in the mood THE RURAL NETWORK OF FINLAND 2014


The Rural Network of Finland

THE RURAL NETWORK OF FINLAND Text: Annukka Lyra, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Photo: MMM / Mavi, Martina Motzbäuchel

For more information on the opportunities offered by cooperation and Europen innovation partnerships, please visit index/hankkeet/Yhteistyotoimenpide.html. For more information on innovative projects that received funding from the Rural Programme in 2007–2013, please visit the Best Practices Database at search.



The Rural Network of Finland

How Can Rural Areas Be Renewed? Rural programme supports innovation Innovation is one of the current buzzwords, but many people consider it to be old-fashioned and overly used. The EU still invests in innovation and expects it to offer reform, growth and a competitive edge, issues that are sorely needed in Europe. In addition to the environment and climate, innovation is one of the pervasive themes of the Rural Development Programme for Continental Finland. How can we benefit from the programme in practice? What is expected of the programme? There have always been innovations in rural areas. Finland practices global state-of-theart research and there are also Finns who specialise in making our everyday lives easier by inventing new gadgets. The idea is to bring together these two. "Instead of allowing research to proceed at its own pace so that it will eventually end up via consulting and training into practice, we want to get researchers and practical actors sitting around the same table or standing on the same field to think about how they could come up with solutions faster or start finding solutions for whole new questions," explains Ms Sirpa Karjalainen, Special Advisor at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. "Basically, the sky is the limit when trying to find new innovations. We do not want to limit the scope of the rural programme too strictly to make sure that we do not miss out on any ideas that open-mindedly combine several approaches," Ms Karjalainen says. At least farmers, forest owners, forest managers and people working in the food sector or bioeconomy should start thinking about what kind of large or small issues they have to resolve and who they could resolve them with. The programme encourages people to start cooperation across sector borders. "We should take into account Finland's blue, green and yellow bioresources when seeking for higher added value." As an example, Ms Karjalainen mentions Agro Living Lab, a place where machinery and device manufacturers can have their new products tested by actual farmers in

New roles for experienced actors

€160 million of the programme's assets are reserved for the cooperation measure. Development of services and training are both supported with €80 million. €300 million is available for both corporate financing and Leader. Businesses can develop their products and services with a company deSouthern Ostrobothnia. Observations can velopment aid or the experiment project. In be turned into practice quickly and easily. the cooperation project, the organisations Sybimar in Uusikaupunki is a well-known receiving aid are usually those responsible innovation where fish farming and the pro- for the administration of a project. "There are plenty of experienced acduction of bioenergy in greenhouses have been combined to an efficient closed loop. tors, plans and programmes. Now we need to bring this activity to a new level," Ms Karjalainen says. What we need are innovaInnovations pervade the tion brokers, people who are not involved in programme research or innovation themselves but who The rural programme includes a specif- are able to effectively combine parties, someic measure to promote cooperation. "The times unexpected ones, to create something cooperation measure is the key means of new. "This is a hint to the consulting and training sector as well as to the the programme to promote innovation," Ms "We should take into Natural Resources Centre that Karjalainen says. "An account Finland's blue, will be opened at the beginning innovation will not green and yellow bio- of next year, universities and become an innovation resources when seeking other institutes of higher eduuntil it has been im- for higher added value" cation. We will also need people to act as the role models and plemented and found useful." This is why consulting and training take on risks before we can actually generate have a key role in the programme when any innovations. The alternative is staying where we are, dabbling with our old plans, renewing agriculture. Pilot projects offer something new to the taking it safe," Ms Karjalainen says. Agricultural and forestry research has development of services. They can be used to develop mobile services, for example. traditionally had good connections with Entrepreneurs can use the opportunity to practice in Finland. The Finnish research implement experiments worth a maximum establishments also have good global conof €10,000 – there have already been good nections. "This means that we have a great experiences from this measure from the cur- opportunity to utilise EU's Horizon 2020 rent programme period. "Good advise and research funding, which strongly focuses ideas are worth their weight in gold also in on practice," Ms Karjalainen says. Another environmental issues and adapting to climate goal is communicating information to other change," Ms Karjalainen points out. Farming EU states. This means that the results of the techniques must be developed as the climate cooperation measure will be studied in close changes, but in a manner that will also clearly international cooperation to make sure that everybody can benefit from its results. reduce their carbon footprint. THE RURAL NETWORK OF FINLAND 2014


The Rural Network of Finland

THE RURAL NETWORK OF FINLAND Text: Tiia Seppänen Photos: Majakoski and Tiia Seppänen

Innovative ideas while respecting There are more and more vacant or nearly vacant buildings waiting for a new life in rural areas. The Central Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment and the rural network arranged in January a seminar on the reuse of old buildings in rural areas. The purpose of the seminar was to promote the utilisation of buildings that are no longer used for their original intended purpose in rural areas. The seminar, which proved to be very popular, was arranged at Juhlatalo Majakoski in Ruoke, Jyväskylä, which in itself is an excellent example of an old farm that has been renovated into a versatile conference, party and sauna venue. Renovation means opportunities but also legislative requirements

Senior Architect Raija Seppänen of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry encourages people to find alternatives to the demolition of buildings even though cultural heritage values often contradict the maintenance costs of buildings. Ms Seppänen notes, however, that the restoration of an old building should not be abandoned due to

the high costs because an old building offers plenty of ready-made structures to anyone wishing to utilise them. "Reusing means that the new entrepreneur will not have to invest so heavily in buildings. There is a ready-made yard area and infrastructure you can use – not to mention the cultural values of old buildings that should be retained," the Senior Architect says. The restoration of an old building does not have to only mean retaining something old: it can also mean adding new cultural values. Most of Central Finland is classified as a rural area, which means that there are plenty of potential sites. Architect Liisa Bergius of the Central Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment says that these sites require plenty of effort, but these efforts will often mean creating new cultural values. Companies in Central Finland, for example, have been able to improve their image by retaining old buildings. There are plenty of interesting sites in the area for which the provincial Cultural Environment Committee has given an award or a certificate of honour on excellent management of a traditional built environment. A good example is Lemettilä Farm

owned by Hanna Hautamäki close to the old Petäjävesi Church, which is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. Working in the protective zone of a World Heritage Site and in a valuable cultural environment means that the National Board of Antiquities must be consulted before making any renovations. In 2013, an old barn manufactured from stone was renovated at the farm. It was changed into a restaurant seating 50 people and two double hotel rooms that can be used for accommodation all year round. Mr Ville Keski-Mattinen, the main designer of the project and a master builder, described the challenges faced with the barn's roof structures and how they were overcome at the seminar. Careful design is a good start

Ms Seppänen says that legislative requirements should always be taken into account and you should always carefully think about whether or not the old building is suitable for a new purpose. Safety and a healthy working environment are issues that cannot be compromised either. Head Surveyor of the town of Laukaa, Ms Päivi Niemi, says that a competent designer and supervisor is of utmost importance when planning to use an old building in a new way. Cooperation with the authorities may seem slow and complicated to the entrepreneur. To make the cooperation as fluent as possible and also quicker, the entrepreneur should contact the authorities already when starting the planning of the project. This way, plans will not have to be changed and the best solution for the customer will be easier to find. All the funding applications for the project must include proper plans and surveys to ensure that the investor knows in detail what will be done. Competent designers and implementers are available through designer organisations, renovation centres and experts of provincial museums.

The guide is available in Finnish and Swedish at > Viestintä > Esitteet. 18


The Rural Network of Finland

the past

"We hope that the examples in the guide will provide ideas to building owners, rural entrepreneurs, people who are thinking about starting a business and designers"

An old building in a rural area can be revived Text: Kirsi Hakoniemi A practical guide on renovation of production buildings in rural areas, Tuotantorakennusten uusiokäyttö maaseudulla, was published in the publication series of the rural network last autumn. The guide illustrates how old buildings in rural areas have been renovated. Editor of the publication is Ms Emilia Rönkkö, a researcher and architect at the University of Oulu School of Architecture. The guide includes lots of photos, and it is full of examples of how vacant or nearly vacant buildings in rural areas have been renovated. The texts and photos in the guide are by Ms Rönkkö and Mr Antti Jaatinen of the Southwest Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. "We hope that the examples in the guide will provide ideas to building owners, rural entrepreneurs, people who are thinking about starting a business and designers. The goal is to encourage people to come up with new ideas, ask for advice, study new sites and seek for funding for their projects," Ms Rönkkö explains. The guide is a comprehensive collection of diverse examples of projects supported by the EU. Age of the buildings varies from the late 19th century to the late 1960s. There is a site where an old outbuilding was renovated into a summer theatre, a site where a barn was renovated into a restaurant and party venue, a site where a barn was renovated into a horse rehabilitation centre, a site where a flour mill was renovated into a car museum, party venue, accommodation centre, café and a bowling alley, and many more. Ms Rönkkö assures that the interesting themes of the guide would provide enough material for an extensive study. There are plenty of questions and stimuli to choose from. "An old building can be an opportunity for an entrepreneur, but it can also be a liability. The owner of the site must come up with a viable renovation idea."



The Rural Network of Finland

THE RURAL NETWORK OF FINLAND Text: Kati Savela Photo: Pekka Homanen

In a small municipality all services are nearby Tytti Määttä was away from her native Jaala in Kuusamo for ten years. All the while she was studying in Turku or working in Helsinki there was a longing to go back. Then the opportunity presented itself: she could return home as municipal manager. Remote connections are one of the reasons why the municipality has been able to uphold its service provision. Five years ago Määttä learned that the position of municipal manager was available in Vaala. Määttä, enrolled in management studies at the time, was appointed to the position. Her boyfriend followed along; they had no children. At first they were renting a flat. After their second child was born the couple decided to build a house. – Having the grandparents near the children was one of the reasons for our coming back. Without the safety network provided by the significant others life can be difficult for a family with small children, Määttä says in her office in the municipal building. 20

Space and safety for the children

The workplace of Määttä's husband is in Kuhmo, his native municipality, but the job does not require daily commuting. At the moment, the husband is on parental leave, taking care of the children. The family's home is round 15 kilometres from the municipal centre. Vaala lies in Kainuu Region and has 3,200 inhabitants. There are many similarities in the story told by Hanna Helaste, administration and business development manager of Vaala


municipality, although she comes originally from Kajaani, about one hundred kilometres from Vaala. Helaste too lived in Helsinki with her husband, in their early thirties at the time. They lived in a flat in Töölö. The husband had never lived beyond Ring III before their relocation to Kainuu. Also their oldest child found the situation bizarre. – The nearest street light is 1.5 kilometres from our house. When looking out of the window the boy noticed that there were no trams. This may be so, but I prefer raising my children in a large garden than in a barren urban streetscape. In my previous life, I used to buckle up my children to the pram and unleash them only after arriving in a fenced playground. Now all three can move freely in our yard, Helaste describes this significant change in the routines of a family with children.

The Rural Network of Finland All basic services are readily available

Helaste cites an example of functioning municipal basic services. In Helsinki, the queuing time for dental service vouchers is five months. In Vaala, an appointment time is usually available immediately. When Helaste missed, amidst some everyday hassle, an appointment with the maternity clinic, the clinic called back to settle a new, more suitable time. This is something you can truly call a service. When building their house Tytti Määttä and her husband discovered that there was hardly any need to go to the town, or to shop online, for supplies. The offering of the local hardware store was surprisingly extensive. This was equally true about the wedding arrangements: there were many specialist stores and almost any desired item could be backordered. Also many government services, such as those of the police as well as the KELA and TE offices, are available in the centre of Vaala. – Homecare services are provided for elderly people living outside agglomerations, and the municipality contributes towards the outlay of snow ploughing on the private roads. It is vital that elderly people can live home as long as possible. No cultural poverty

In the municipality, the level of local employment opportunities is high, but people are commuting to – and from – Oulu and Kajaani, both about one hundred kilometres from Vaala. The distance can be covered by train or by car about in one hour. Helaste tells how her friends, living in the Helsinki Metropolitan Region, were appalled by her husband's journey to work, all the way to Oulu. In fact, it takes an equal amount of time to cover only 16 kilometres in the Metropolitan Region. The population of Vaala do not suffer from any lack of cultural services, either. The village community organises a variety of different events. Even opera performances have been arranged in the municipality. For several summers, the locals have planned and organised opera performances based on local themes, with reinforcements from the Finnish National Opera brought in. In addition, antiques flea markets have become an attraction, visited daily by up to one thousand customers coming from far and wide. – One cannot say, however, that we have everything a city has. On the other hand,

there is no need for all that. For example, our public transport and cafeteria services are rather limited. Instead of sitting in cafés, people pay friends and relatives frequent visits. Any lack or deficiency in service provision is compensated for by low housing costs, communality and, of course, unpolluted air and water. Remote connections supplement own service provision

Määttä appreciates local food and sometimes goes picking mushrooms and wild berries also after work, not least because she can enter the forest directly from her backyard. The children like it, too. Whenever having potatoes, Määttä's daughter cannot resist reminding that she has harvested the potatoes herself. It is a pleasure to enjoy the fruit of one's labour. Määttä and Helaste wish to remark that service provision is often comprehensive in the main agglomerations of sparsely populated rural municipalities because of the long distance to regional centres. Correspondingly, services have been pared down in small municipalities close to the central cities. The long distance between Vaala and the regional centres, Oulu and Kajaani, justifies upholding public service provision within the municipality. Services can be provided to sparsely populated areas also over remote connections. Good connections must be complemented by remote services. In Vaala, for example, with the assistance of a nurse a diabetes patient can consult a doctor by means of online meetings. The five Oulunkaari

municipalities are experimenting with a service scheme in which elderly people and certain special groups are provided with homecare services and physiotherapeutic instructions through remote connections and touchscreen terminals. – Such services brought directly to the home are being developed on a continuous basis. We seek to locate and establish procedures that will enable upholding services while keeping costs at a reasonable level. For example, we have an ongoing project in which a physiotherapist issues a personal training programme, and provides nutritional advice, for persons older than 70 years. By appropriate physical rehabilitation even bedridden patients can recover their mobility, Tytti Määttä tells with satisfaction. Holiday residents double the population count

According to Määttä and Helaste, also government employment could be functionally reorganised by means of remote connections instead of resorting to decentralisation and cutting positions. Availability of employment is often decisive in the choice of home municipality. There are always employment opportunities, and an open-ended job application may produce better results. Vaala is a popular holiday municipality. In summer, the municipality's population doubles, because the lakesides of Oulunjärvi, for example, attract regular holiday residents and tourists. – We can even have some queues in the market, Hanna Helaste says laughing.

Tytti Määttä values the congestion-free, straightforward everyday life in a small municipality, as well as the great outdoors accessible directly from THE RURAL NETWORK OF FINLAND 2014



Keistiรถ wants local electricity


RURAL+ 2014

VILLAGE ACTION Keistiö is in an island in the Finnish Archipelago Sea with around thirty permanent inhabitants. In addition to these permanent inhabitants, Keistiö has summertime inhabitants and is visited by tourists. The population of the island multiplies in the summertime. Mr Janne Gröning, a wildlife photographer, lives in or on Keistiö, depending on whether you are talking about the island or the village with the same name. He and the other active members of the village association want to study in more detail the consumption of electrical energy in Keistiö. The village association owns an old school building that is now being used as the association's base, and they are also in charge of the street lights of the stretch of road running through the village. The street lights and heating of the old school building have become expensive for the village association. Discussions about how this situation could be resolved led to a whole new way of taking care of the electricity supply. The project in a nutshell

The starting point was the fact that the town of Parainen was willing to replace the 124 W lamps with 32 W ones. Furthermore, the villagers wished to construct a small wind power plant of 3.5 kW in the village. This will decrease the costs to the village association and will also make the village less dependent on the electricity supply of large electricity companies – which is not always fully reliable in the archipelago during storms. Leader project in Keistiö ("Wind power plant for self-lighting Keistiö Island") is a good example of how you can think big on a small scale. The project is currently ongoing and the new power plant will be in operation by the end of 2014.

Mr Heino, and we proceeded from an idea to practice slowly by surely." Do you think that your concept could be used by other islands or other small villages in sparsely populated areas? "Absolutely, I believe that this concept could be used by other islands and villages – we have already had some questions about how it works, but since we will not get the power plant working until in the spring of 2014, we do not have any experiences yet. I believe that local electricity will be as important as local food in the future. Life is local!" Smilegov

Keistiö in Iniö is, together with Nauvo, involved in an EU project called Smilegov. In short, the project is about drafting energy plans and making islands all over Europe sustainable. Iniö and Nauvo are involved in the Smilegov project via association Finlands Öar rf – Suomen Saaret ry (FÖSS). The European Small Islands Federation (whose member FÖSS is) has generated via the Smilegov project a small cluster of

European islands. Small islands in Åland, Ireland, France and Italy are also involved. Smilegov offers training and support for local energy plans and promotes the work among local politicians. An interesting network that covers the whole of Europe is a bonus. The goal is for the participating islands to draft a local energy plan during a period of 30 months so that they will have a list of which projects are viable and how they could be funded. Janne Gröning, in which issues will the Smilegov project focus this spring? "I will go to Denmark in April for two days to the Samsø Energy Academy with other people from all over the world to familiarise myself with the energy plan of the Samsø Island. Mr Jan-Erik Karlsson from Nauvo and Mr Alf-Peter Heino from the town of Parainen will accompany me there. When we get home, we will contact the local councils in Iniö and Nauvo to provide them with a variety of ideas that will then be taken further to be reviewed by the politicians of the town of Parainen. We hope that they will lead to new, innovative policies. There will be a new election soon, and we hope that sustainable energy development will be a major theme then!" Emil Oljemark Acting Executive Director, I samma båt rf Pia Prost Village Agent, LAG Egentliga Finlands Byar rf

Janne Gröning, what made you think of wind power as a solution for Keistiö?

"I had been thinking for a long time about how I could be as self-sufficient as possible in terms of electricity, which naturally led me to thinking about solar panels and small-scale wind power plants... There was an EU project called Green Islands in Iniö from 2011 to December 2013. I was Iniö's contact person in this project, and that is how I got to know Mr Alf-Peter Heino, who is the alternative energy advisor of the town of Parainen. I got advise for free from The luminaires 32 W LEDs. Lamps being changed along the stretch of road running through the village. Photos by Janne Gröning. RURAL+ 2014


LEADER PROJECTS Participants of a log hewing course made a sauna for the Hungarians Globalisation has made the life at Kangas village in Ylivieska more lively for the past decade. Last spring, the Kangas Youth Association hosted a log hewing course with participants from three countries. A concrete result of the course was a log sauna that was transported to Hungary. The international cooperation started with a survey project in the early 21st century. This project led to the Kangas village being partnered with Boda village in Hungary. Over the years, the villages have cooperated in many ways in many sectors, ranging from youth exchange to food culture and tourism. Furthermore, some Hungarian workers came to provide much needed workforce for metal sector companies in Ylivieska. The project "A sauna for Hungary", funded by LAG RieskaLeader, started when people expressed their concern about the traditional skill of log hewing slowly fading out. The key idea with the project was teaching traditional log hewing techniques with modern methods. In addition to transferring the skill to the future generations of the Kangas village, people wanted to share it with the Hungarian partner village. The project became even more international when it got some participants from Boda's Romanian twin town of Csíkrakos. Austrian Ottnang was also Boda's partner in the project, even though nobody from Ottnang actually made it all the way to Ylivieska. There were fourteen hewing students in total. Communication during the project mainly took place in Hungarian. Project Manager Seppo Niskala says that he has learned enough Hungarian over the years to be able to handle the basics. Hungarian is a natural choice also for the Romanians. The actual course, taught by Mr Pekka Hautamäki and Mr Heikki Pinola from Ylivieska, was completed in March and April. The sauna that was completed during the course was shipped in a lorry in late August. The sauna was erected in Boda by a teaching project, too. The Finns went to Hungary for a little over two weeks in early September. The sauna was ready to be used in late September, at which time it was officially handed over to the Boda villagers. Mr Niskala says that the participants learned hewing well. They have already built two log saunas, one for Hungary and one for Finland, and they are planning even more projects. The project has been important for the residents of Kangas village, too. A total of 46 people participated in it, all of them without pay. "There is life also outside our village. Such interaction gives you energy that you can use to do something else," says Niskala. Anssi Juntto Photos: Seppo Niskala


RURAL+ 2014

Finns exploring village renewal in Northern Ireland Innovative Village project partners from Finland and Estonia visited their partner area in the North East of Northern Ireland (NI) in February 2014. The study tour included partner communities Cushendall, Portglenone and Portballintrae as part of the NorthEast Region (NER) Rural Development Programme. NER has supported village plans, environmental improvements, business initiatives, community infrastructure, heritage and tourism initiatives as well as marketing (both web-based and literature). Tourism development is important to Northern Ireland. Many of the rural improvements and initiatives benefit both locals and tourists alike. LEADER means grass-root projects usually run by small actors. The need for private funding is a common problem. However, it seems that in NI the possibilities to get private funding were greater than in Finland. There were even villages with their own development funds contributing to building projects, marketing etc. On the other hand, the possibility to get an interest-free loan from the municipality (council) to fill in the gap between the start of a project creating costs and funding of the costs at the end of the project seemed to be a new idea in NI. In Finland some (but not all) municipalities consider it to be a cheap way to get things done in their rural areas. All in all, the sense of community and the level of cooperation were the biggest impressions we got from Ireland. A group of happy Finns travelled home planning surprises for the partners coming to Finland in May. Outi Raatikainen project leader, Innovative Villages More information Innovative Village group in Northern Ireland. Photo by Piers Bray.


Campaign to speed up local tourism For the past twelve months, two projects in the Oulu region have combined their resources to encourage local businesses to highlight their opportunities to offer local tourism services. A couple of dozen initiatives were received, and the local media also expressed interest in the campaign: some articles were published in the newspaper and there were a couple of interviews on the radio. The campaign hopes to create new networks and new tourist attractions, and improve interaction between urban and rural areas. The goals were reached and study trips were arranged during the autumn to get to know the involved villages. Brochures about the villages and other services will be available in the future.

Surveying of needs encourages people

At the beginning of the campaign period, the development projects drafted a survey that was sent to day-care centres, teachers, resident associations and pensioner associations in the city of Oulu. A total of 126 answers were received. The answers showed that people are interested in local tourism and like to explore the area close to their homes in different kinds of groups: with their families, friends, an association or their school class. Most people are interested in nature, hiking routes, culture, exhibitions and local history. Their local tourist trips take between one and five hours, and they usually go to a tourist attraction that is less than fifty kilometres from their home. They find the

attractions on the internet or select them based on recommendations by friends. The most important services they want are resting places, marked hiking routes, guides and a specific attraction to see. They are willing to use money during their trip to buy food, tickets, guide services, etc. Expert assistance in commercialisation

The campaign participants participated in a workshop by Mr Jouni Ortju in the spring. The workshop offered the participants an opportunity to network. During the day, they determined the target groups of their village products, studied the commercialisation process and the service process, and discussed issues to be taken into account in sales and marketing. Also a seminar was arranged in June. Ms Tiina Perämäki presented theme-based development of village tourism and Ms Kirsi Eskola of Go Arctic Oy explained what the criteria for products to be sold are. Mr Juha Kuisma told what you need to succeed in village tourism; he stressed the importance of guides and local stories. Getting to know villages during field trips

What a huge reserve of resources and how many active people you can find in the local villages! During the autumn, study trips implemented by projects Yhteisöhautomo and KantriOulu took people to Kempele, Martinniemi, Pikkarala and Ylikiiminki. The participants were able to study current and former municipal centres, nine villages, local history, local prominent figures, the current status and plans for the future. They also discussed up-to-date issues. A little over a hundred people participated in the trips or their implementation, and most of the feedback was good or excellent. The campaign promoted communality and allowed village actors to create new networks. The method can be recommended to others, too: the local development work in the villages can now be continued with the help of many new experiences and a better knowledge of the local area. Ritva Sauvola YHTEISÖhautomo project/Oulun Seudun Leader

RURAL+ 2014


VILLAGE ACTION "The ones who do the most cooperation are often those who are the closest to each other. This speaks in favour of a specific place-based logic in development"

Triple innovations needed In the past, one innovation was enough. When you noticed what people needed, such as food or homes, you just needed to be innovative – to find a way to work with the resources you had or to create a product that met the needs. If you could not see what people needed, you could just ask them. Then you could be innovative in the production process.

Three steps to innovation

That is no longer enough: let's take as an example the current hit product, the smart phone. There was no need to meet because everybody already had mobile phones with buttons – there was nobody going around being irritated about not being able to push the screen with their finger instead of hitting buttons. This means that the first step was coming up with a product nobody knew they wanted. That requires quite a lot of innovativeness. The second step was making people "see" that they must have the product, that they actually need it. The third step was the old familiar one: how to manufacture the product. These steps are naturally divided into several more complicated steps, which are probably more complicated than the issues you are faced in the first step. Luxury problem

The triple innovation requirement is naturally a "luxury problem" with which only a few people, most of them in urban areas, are faced. The actual problem is not any smaller. The global markets require luxury products that can offer investors fast earnings. The global competition means that if we do not play in this league, we will end up in a downwards spiral where the poorest suffer the most, or will we? The triple innovation requirement is only one part of the truth. There are actual unsatisfied needs in our society, too. Furthermore, development constantly creates new ones. Examples of such needs are 26

RURAL+ 2014

methods and skills for fighting environmental catastrophes or care and medicine for stress-related illnesses. The triple innovation requirement is still an issue that must be taken into account in the highly developed society. "Criticl mass"

Coming up with a definition for the term "innovation" is not easy, and probably it is not even necessary. Thinking about how you can promote innovations is important, however. There are naturally many theories about that. The most worrying issue from the viewpoint of rural areas is that these theories are often closely related to the concept of critical mass. Critical mass can refer to the number of professors and students in a university or the number of businesses in a specific area or branch, or simply the population. Since rural areas are specifically areas that lack such critical mass, that the situation does not seem so good for rural areas. The Triple Helix concept is about interaction between universities, businesses and authorities. One of its preconditions is, however, that there is a critical mass in all of

these three areas. If rural areas wish to use this model for promoting innovation, they must go one step further and talk about the Quadruple Helix. It simply means involving users in the cooperation. It is a concept that is not voiced often in the discussion about innovation in Finland, but that is just the reason why it should be studied in more detail. Naturally, it will not work without proper innovation structures in rural areas. Structures are probably more important in sparsely populated areas than in university towns. To return back to the beginning of this article, including users in the innovation process seems to be mere common sense. This will mean that the need is actual, not "innovated". Innovations should also have a reasonable local connection. The ones who do the most cooperation are often those who are the closest to each other. This speaks in favour of a specific place-based logic in development. Peter Backa Specialist Svensk Byaservice

village action association of finland c/o Willa Elsa Meijeritie 2, 25410 Suomusjärvi, Finland Email:

Secretary General Risto Matti Niemi Tel. 050 599 5229 Email:

LEADER Officer Heli Walls Tel. +358 453 271 117 Email:

Development Manager Tuomas Perheentupa Tel. +358 505 922 726 Email:

LEADER Officer Kim Smedslund Tel. +358 451 477 141 Email:

Managing Editor/Communications Advisor Pipsa Salolammi Tel. +358 451 233 254 Email:

Village service project Juhani Nenonen Tel. +358 451 115 222 Email:

Controller Raija Tuppurainen Tel. +358 451 335 391 Email:

JÄSSI-wastewater project Kirsi Mäensivu Tel. +358 458 814 200 Email:

Project Secretary Marianne Lemettinen Tel. +358 458 871 511 Email:

Developer Peter Backa Tel. +358 405 950 444

Business Cases project Juha Kuisma Tel. +358 458 847 884 Email:

international associations with finnish contact persons:

European LEADER Association for Rural Development (, contact person: Petri Rinne (vice president) European Rural Community Alliance, contact person: Kim Smedslund Hela Norden skall Leva ( contact person: Risto Matti Niemi Partnership for Rural Europe (, contact person: Kim Smedslund

RURAL+ 2014


Funding Consulting & Actions to benefit local communities

fi . d n finla


r e d a e l . w w

Sepra and Rural Market in Hamina, Finland Saturday, 14/6 from 10 to 18 Sunday 15/6 from 10 to 16 The event takes place in the largest summer canopy in Europe in a historic fortress which was built in Hamina in the 18th century. In the market products from Estonia and Kymenlaakso can be sold; local handicraft and local food as well as fish. The event is organized by the city of Hamina and LEADER-LAG SEPRA

LOOKING FOR VENDORS! Organizers reserve the right to select

Innovative Village

Welc om


Fair in Central Finland Innovative Villages from Estonia, Northern Ireland and Central Finland present themselves Fri 16th May, 2014 in an innovative seminar in Saarij채rvi. More information: Outi Raatikainen,, +358 50 412 0491

the vendors, so that the market consists primarily of Kymenlaakso and Estonian companies. The booking deadline is 15/05/2014. Please, remember to read the terms and conditions of market carefully before registering at

Euroopan maaseudun kehitt채misen maatalous Eurooppa investoi maas

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