People living in small villages have their special needs and desires like all of us, but there can be problems with how to get their voice heard at the municipality level.The solution could be to set up a village association to work as a supervisor of the interests of the people living in the village. In Finland these kind of village associations are rather common, as there are almost 3000 registered village associations in the country.
Pietarsaari is a small city located at the shore of the Ostrobothnian Gulf. The local waste company Ekorosk Oy wanted to create a new fun way to teach the local children about recycling and its importance. At the same time there was a problem with too much aluminum among the mixed waste. That is when one of the company’s workers came up with the idea of organizing a competition for the local elementary schools, where the aim would be to collect as many empty tealight cups as possible during a two-month period.
In the southern-most part of Finland, in a small village called Bromarf an ecovillage project was launched in 2000 and a plot size of 2.5 hectares was purchased. The Martha Association was one of the main funders of the project (together with local private sponsors), which aimed at providing altogether 20 residences mainly for elderly people and young adults. The following goals paved the way: new vitality to the village, enhancement of current building culture and of ecology, fresh entrepreneurship, energy economy, healthy building and increasing recycling awareness.
The Helsinki Metropolitan Area Recycling Centre is an example of a community-based initiative that has succeeded in growing from a small grass-root activity to a big and influential actor in the recycling and re-using business in Finland. In 2014, they recirculated over 3 million items in their five shops. Through their actions they are helping people recycle the things they do not need anymore and offering a sustainable and affordable way of purchasing furniture, clothes and bicycles, amongst many other goods.
Hollola energy co-operative buys wood chips from its members and converts the chips to heat in heat plants owned by the municipality and sells the heat to the municipality. The co-operative has tens of members and its members get income from energy wood. The co-operative takes care of a couple of heat plants at schools and one heat plant in an old people’s home.
Tuupovaara energy co-operative was the first energy co-operative in the province of North Karelia. It was established by eight founding members in 1996 being one of the first energy co-operatives utilizing wood as raw material for heat production in Finland. The heat production activities that energy co-operatives started to be involved with created a demand for wood that did not have use in Finland, i.e. no-one bought energy wood at that time and markets were created for this wood.
JAPA ry is a non-profit, politically independent association that was founded in 2001 in Jyväskylä, Finland. The association’s title JAPA comes from the Finnish words meaning “The Local Agenda of the citizens of Jyväskylä”. Their main aim is to contribute to sustainability in various ways based on the local peoples’ everyday needs. Their activities include planning and implementation of various sustainable development-related projects and events. The association was founded by the many residents’ associations of the Jyväskylä area.
The Centre of Sustainable Development in Oulu, Northern Finland, offers mainly rehabilitative work, work trials, and wage subsidy jobs for youths (btw. 18-28 years old). Once employed by the Centre one can try out various jobs and gain experience in several areas. The work is combined with practical training and courses, which take place mostly in the Centre’s own workshops and services (such as commercial waste collection, recycling points’ construction, bicycle and sewing workshop, and light machinery and auto repair shops). Annually some 200 people are employed.
Eno energy co-operative is a community-based enterprise located in North Karelia, Finland which has been established in 1999. It is one of 310 heat enterprises in Finland of which the first ones were established in 1992 – before this such a model for heat production run by entrepreneurs and based on forest chips did not exist in Finland. The co-operative is owned by local forest owners. The co-operative aims at producing inexpensive district heat for the local community with locally sourced energy wood, a part of which comes from its members.
In 2010 people at Herttoniemi, Helsinki, Finland started looking for solutions for sustainable food production by starting their own food co-operative. The basic idea is that the members of the co-operative rent a piece of land and employ a farmer to farm the field. After paying a certain price for the membership the member is entitled to receive a share of the crops. During the harvesting season the members receive their share once a week. Also a 10 h work commitment at the weekly bee is included in the membership.