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  • Upward slope: how skateboarding transformed the ‘Manchester of Finland’ | Cities

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See the news Upward slope: how skateboarding transformed the ‘Manchester of Finland’ | Cities from Source GSM Arena on 16/04/2019 has been updated to day with the theme on feedixo.

Upward slope: how skateboarding transformed the ‘Manchester of Finland’ | Cities

There’s little to distinguish Tampere from hundreds of other post-industrial small towns and cities across the global north. With a population of 232,000, it is Finland’s second-largest urban area, known as the Manchester of Finland due to its past as an industrial powerhouse. And like many other towns and cities, after a century of prosperity the decline of industry left Tampere facing an existential crisis. It now counts its major claims to fame as mustamakkara (a black sausage) and the world’s only Moomin museum.Although Finland consistently places at the top of global rankings in everything from income to equality to education, the collapse of its major trading partner, the Soviet Union, in 1991 left the country struggling with unemployment, particularly among the young. Tampere was not immune. The global financial crisis compounded Finland’s problems; youth unemployment in the Pirkanmaa region, which includes Tampere, hit 28% in 2009.Alienation and even radicalisation became a serious issue, and most young Finns know someone who has slipped down the path into alcoholism. The city was struggling to find a strong identity and purpose – and like many smaller places it was also victim to a gravitational pull on talent, investment and resources from a much bigger city: in Tampere’s case, Helsinki.FacebookTwitterPinterest None of the Kaarikoirat members had any construction experience when they built their first skatepark. Although many of Tampere’s old factories are architectural marvels, as abandoned buildings they can create giant “ghost zones”, and all too easily transform into centres for drug-taking, vagrancy and crime.Tampere is emblematic of changes across Finland: as industries close, forestry becomes increasingly mechanised and the population both ages and shrinks, young Finns often grow up bored and frustrated, killing time until they leave for the big cities. Census figures suggest the population of non-metropolitan areas will shrink by 180,000 over the next 20 years. For young people in smaller cities, it can be particularly hard to imagine a positive future.That’s why the ramp dogs are here.In a sprawling yard below an old pulp mill beside Lake Näsijärvi, near the city, members of Kaarikoirat (“Ramp Dogs”), a self-organised association of skateboarders , are hard at work, pouring concrete and smoothing out a gradient over a hand-built wooden frame.FacebookTwitterPinterest A skatepark being built near Lake Näsijärvi, Tampere, Finland. “I have so many friends who are stuck,” says Ville Natunen, a Kaarikoirat member and now a professional skatepark builder with the Canadian firm Beaver Concrete. “They’re unemployed, they get passive and depressed. Eventually, they stop believing they can do anything.”In 2010 Kaarikoirat members decided to take matters into their own hands. Fed up with their calls for municipal investment in skateboarding meeting with indifference, they set about building a skatepark of their own, called Tikkutehdas DIY, in the ruins of an old matchstick factory. None of them had any prior construction experience, but each day more young people – many of whom the state and NGOs had previously failed to engage – began showing up to lend a hand.“In the beginning, there was no contact with the city’s decision-makers,” recalls founder Teemu Grönlund. “Skateboarding had no spokesperson. But we didn’t sit around and complain; we worked hard, by hand, to make our dreams come true.”FacebookTwitterPinterest Iso-Vilunen, pictured, is now the biggest concrete outdoor skatepark in Finland. In 2015, after endless meetings and proposals a second project, Iso-Vilunen, became the biggest outdoor concrete skatepark in Finland. The same year, Kaarikoirat got permission to build a mini-ramp under a bridge in the heart of the city. Then it convinced the city to move unused granite blocks to create a new skate plaza in a park that had formerly been used primarily by problem drinkers. The skate plaza brought in families, reactivating a previously unloved outdoor social space, and helped to turn the little-used public stage in the park into a lively spot for events and gigs – all at almost no cost to the city.“What Kaarikoirat has...

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See the news Upward slope: how skateboarding transformed the ‘Manchester of Finland’ | Cities from Source GSM Arena on 16/04/2019 has been updated to day with the theme on feedixo.