The values of We Love Helsinki

By: Marleen

We Love Helsinki is a group of people working together around the motive “the city is ours”. They organize events for the citizens of Helsinki throughout the year. The events are a playful way of communal intervention utilizing the public space with the idea that the urban space comes alive only through the appropriation of the citizens. Midsummer dance, May Day dance, New Year’s Eve dance and Summer Dance are fairly popular events but there is also a biking day, karaoke community singing and a playful water fight.

This article will focus on the values of We Love Helsinki as a system within the bigger system called society. Values are defined as beliefs about what is right or wrong and what is important. Values are characterized by the culture in which the organization or institution operates. They act as the base on which an organization and institution is built and values are reflected in every action made by it. Values vary from corporate to personal and family values but within industries or families the values may also vary. It is also important to communicate the values appropriately to the surrounding environment.

With regards to communication, it was not possible to get in touch with the founder of We Love Helsinki, Timo Santala, as he was in Indonesia on holiday. Thus, the values presented in this article are based on personal impressions rather than factual knowledge from within the organization.

It seems rather obvious that one of the core values is participation. The events would not happen without the people participating in them – the passer-by is the one actually creating the event. Participation could at the same time also be understood as the participation of We Love Helsinki in the broader system called society. The society is seen as a rather important system but the approach to it by the organization is bottom-up rather than top-down. The founder has said that he believes in the welfare state but not that the society does everything for its citizens. By organizing events We Love Helsinki is searching for leverage points that would change the system . The appreciation is mutual as the organization received an award from the city of Helsinki for the Cultural Act of the year 2010.

Another value is creativity, as We Love Helsinki enjoys thinking outside the box and comes up with unordinary ideas. For now, the general public has accepted the ideas but there are naturally some boundaries that guide We Love Helsinki to organize things which are accepted. The aim of the organization is to leave a long-lasting expression and change in the society instead of organizing simple and unrelated events which are forgotten one week later. Thus, long-term influencing within the society as a system is yet another value.

It remained unclear how the organization and its events are funded but it seems that at least some of the events are free of charge and thus open to everyone regardless of the social class. The relaxed attitude towards money-related issues can be seen as a value, or more a belief that society is not and should not be only about money. As the name says it already, love is appreciated higher.

In conclusion, the values are participation, creativity, long-term influencing and the softer and feminine values. It can be said that We Love Helsinki is trying to act as a change agent to change the society as a participants within the system.