Profile of Miss Elina Alatalo POLEIS Research Program on Politics of Space and Environment

Elina Alatalo

General research interests

We just finished a big research project funded by Academy of Finland, where we explored the multiple role of dwellers in sustainable urbanization. We did that by experimenting with the citizen, and by learning from the experiments that they have already done, in order to make their everyday life in cities better.
In this project I worked on the theme of taking vacant spaces into use with local communities. I concentrated on self-organized shared spaces of work and on co-housing. We also organized a series of visionary workshops where citizen and planners worked together.

PhD/Postdoctoral Research Title

Crafting cities with self-organization and urban activism

PhD Abstract

Urban development in general is currently recognized as a complex phenomenon, where planners’ old tools in steering the development do not suffice (Boelens & de Roo, 2016; Rantanen & Faehnle, 2017). The broadening and changing set of participants add on to this complexity. In my doctoral thesis I combine the research of environmental politics, urban studies and architecture to inquire: How can we craft cities with self-organization and urban activism? With action research methodology (Wittmeyer & Bartels, 2014) I look into two case studies that represent novel methods of working with Finnish urban activism. I have had a central role in facilitating the birth and development of both of them. For understanding the possibilities to act in the complexity with the new modes of urban activism, I use and develop the concepts of city crafting, patterns and improvisation. The aim of my research is to offer new tools to act with citizen self-organization, applicable also to other fields outside urban development.