Long live the tramway!

On Wednesday, our Sustainable Summer School spent the whole day on the mainland. First our Expert Day in the WDC Pavillon and then a guided tramway tour around Helsinki. This was the longest tramway trip in my life, more than 2 hours! When I walked back I noticed how well the tramway relates to the topics of our presentations earlier today.

Mikko Jalas from the Aalto School of Business talked about slowing down everyday life instead of speeding and busying up in order to achieve sustainability. Can cities ever be sustainable, as they rather seem to speed up than to slow down our life? Mikko’s examples were cycling and maintaining wooden boats. I think Helsinki tramway is another example of slow but sustainable mobility. It’s a pity that the tramway is even slower because of the people who imagine that car driving could ever be fast in a city.

Satu Lähteenoja is the initiator of the European research project Spread – Sustainable Lifestyles 2050 set up by the Collaborating Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production in Wuppertal/Germany, Demos Helsinki and eight other institutions across Europe. She introduced us four very different scenarios for achieving sustainable lifestyles by 2050. Although only a part of the scenarios might facilitate a slow life as proposed by Mikko, tramways will fit into all of them. And forget about cars in the future.

Milla Visuri, the tourism coordinator of WDC Helsinki 2012, presented us the development of Helsinki towards a liveable city and how numerous WDC projects are connected to it. No question that tramways are an integral part of a liveable city – and nice to see that play their role also during WDC 2012.

Architect Hella Hernberg from Urban Dream Management told us about her book Helsinki Beyond Dreams, the ideas behind it and the realisation in Helsinki. We can develop activities on empty city spaces without huge investments while providing room for a lot of spontaneity. I was impressed by the idea of using existing space instead of always building new and more buildings. Urban dream management is resource-efficient – just like tramways.

In the evening we had that wonderful tram trip around the city. Arabia, Jätkäsaari, and so on – it’s amazing how Helsinki has started to enlarge it’s tramway network. With enthusiasm I am waiting for further enlargements. When will the tramway also arrive at Munkkivuori, Haaga, Oulunkylä and Viikki?

Go, tramway, go!