7 \ How do design and politics meet?

In this episode, we meet the deputy mayor of the city of Turku, Elina Rantanen. From August 2023 onwards her area of responsibility is the urban environment. For the previous two years, she served as deputy mayor for welfare. Elina also serves as the chairman of the city environmental committee and as the 2nd vice-chairman of the Turku City Council. She is a fifth-term city councillor for The Greens party and a first-term regional councilor in the wellbeing services county of Southwest Finland. Elina has previously worked in various research and development projects at the universities of Turku and Helsinki and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. She has also worked as the development director of the Norio Centre of Rare Diseases which is hosted by Inclusion Finland, KVTL. Elina is particularly interested in e.g. climate and nature issues, prevention of inequality, promotion of equality and urban culture.

In the episode, we talk about how resident information can be used to support decision-making. We also consider what kind of effects urban design and empathic population information could have on decision-making in future cities.

"A lot of information is accumulated within the city in various projects and in interactions with residents every day. The goal is to make informed political decision-making. Information screening has developed a lot, but the information might not be systematic or in one database - it lies for example in various projects. As a decision maker, you have to have the know-how and also dare to ask for such experience information."

Material recommendations by Elina:

Turun kaupunkitutkimusohjelma

Short summary of the episode:

In this podcast episode, we discuss utilising design methods in city development with Turku city deputy mayor and green city councillor Elina Rantanen, who talks about her experiences as a decision-maker in urban planning. Elina says that she got involved in city development through political decision-making. She has been a Turku city councillor for 19 years. Cities interest her as structures and as stages of phenomena. The position of deputy mayor has opened up the matter in a new way when more time is available. Rantanen feels it is important to represent the citizens and to bring decisions from their perspective.

According to Elina, resident information is important to support political decision-making. In Turku, there is cooperation with the university in the field of urban research and information is collected in many ways, but according to Elina, the challenge is to get it more systematically to support political decision-making. The mayor's model has brought time to listen to residents, but it is especially important to acquire balanced information, not just listen to the loudest opinions.

The episode also discusses the role of citizens in the development of cities and states that the citizen is not just a passive recipient of services, but a part of the city. Citizens can influence in many ways, also voluntarily, e.g. by organizing events. The role of the city can be facilitative or directive. Elina emphasizes that the experience of participation is important for citizens, even if not all individual wishes can be fulfilled.

Among the challenges of urban development, Elina mentions, for example, the dismantling of segregated development, where decisions often arouse opposition. With the help of empathetic resident information, Elina thinks that solutions could be found even for difficult things. The key is interaction and a common vision that we are building a common city. Design enables empathetic planning and interaction, which according to Elina leads to better decision-making. She emphasizes that understanding the residents' experiences is important. Citizens should not be seen only as data reserves, but as living people for whom design helps create a smoother everyday life.

In the future, in Elina's opinion, the possibilities for a more systematic collection of empathetic resident information should be explored as part of urban planning. We have to make sure that, as a basis for urban planning, diverse information is gathered from different groups of residents, not just the loudest ones. In addition, in her opinion, investment should be made in more interactive planning and decision-making, where the citizens are genuinely heard. According to Elina, the independent activities and community spirit of the citizens should also be promoted to enrich the urban culture, and design methods, such as joint planning, empathic planning and user orientation in urban planning, should be utilized.

Guest: Elina Rantanen, Deputy Mayor, City of Turku

Material recommendations by Elina:

Turun kaupunkitutkimusohjelma

Short summary of the episode:

In this podcast episode, we discuss utilising design methods in city development with Turku city deputy mayor and green city councillor Elina Rantanen, who talks about her experiences as a decision-maker in urban planning. Elina says that she got involved in city development through political decision-making. She has been a Turku city councillor for 19 years. Cities interest her as structures and as stages of phenomena. The position of deputy mayor has opened up the matter in a new way when more time is available. Rantanen feels it is important to represent the citizens and to bring decisions from their perspective.

According to Elina, resident information is important to support political decision-making. In Turku, there is cooperation with the university in the field of urban research and information is collected in many ways, but according to Elina, the challenge is to get it more systematically to support political decision-making. The mayor's model has brought time to listen to residents, but it is especially important to acquire balanced information, not just listen to the loudest opinions.

The episode also discusses the role of citizens in the development of cities and states that the citizen is not just a passive recipient of services, but a part of the city. Citizens can influence in many ways, also voluntarily, e.g. by organizing events. The role of the city can be facilitative or directive. Elina emphasizes that the experience of participation is important for citizens, even if not all individual wishes can be fulfilled.

Among the challenges of urban development, Elina mentions, for example, the dismantling of segregated development, where decisions often arouse opposition. With the help of empathetic resident information, Elina thinks that solutions could be found even for difficult things. The key is interaction and a common vision that we are building a common city. Design enables empathetic planning and interaction, which according to Elina leads to better decision-making. She emphasizes that understanding the residents' experiences is important. Citizens should not be seen only as data reserves, but as living people for whom design helps create a smoother everyday life.

In the future, in Elina's opinion, the possibilities for a more systematic collection of empathetic resident information should be explored as part of urban planning. We have to make sure that, as a basis for urban planning, diverse information is gathered from different groups of residents, not just the loudest ones. In addition, in her opinion, investment should be made in more interactive planning and decision-making, where the citizens are genuinely heard. According to Elina, the independent activities and community spirit of the citizens should also be promoted to enrich the urban culture, and design methods, such as joint planning, empathic planning and user orientation in urban planning, should be utilized.

© 2023 Digitalist Group. All Rights Reserved.