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Inklings of safety, care and love in the Circular Citizens final seminar

Text: Heli Harjama

Photos: Piia Lundberg

The final seminar of the Circular Citizens project was organized on 9th of November at the University of Helsinki Incubator Space in Helsinki.

The programme included welcoming words by project lead Angelina Korsunova, five presentations from the team members, comments for the presentations by scholars from Finland, Germany, Sweden and Norway, and a panel discussion with scholars and practitioners. After the programme we had some time for informal networking with all the participants.


My presentation was about experimental circular economy education, which I have been implementing in 2023 with upper secondary students in the form of circular economy transformation workshops. I presented insights that emerged in the workshops and was fortunate to have a commentary from research fellow Elina Larsson from Stockholm University. Elina Larsson is also the President of European Association for Home Economics.

In my presentation I proposed that circular transition would require education to be based on practical and material existence and relations. Elina Larsson reacted by emphasizing ethics and responsibility in education, as well as importance of recognizing the interconnectedness of all elements within an ecosystem and their roles in a sustainable system.The commentary made me feel that I´m not alone with my efforts for sustainability in the field of education, but there are predecessors, something already existing. And we´re addressing a thing of outmost importance, together. Sustainability. Will or will we not have it – it´s foundational.


I am of course aware of previous research and researchers, but there is something different in someone responding to your own contributions. It made me think of the importance of already existing communities and being welcomed to those, when people make efforts for circular transitions.


The commentary also highlighted the importance of uniting in a global scale while addressing circular transition through education, and for me, added also affectionality in caretaking: taking care of stuff is taking care for everyone, it´s an act of love.


So overall, the commentary created kind of a network of safety for me. I wish everyone could have something similar, feel safe in all of this. How are we supposed to make any changes without feeling safe, being able to rely on others to take care?


The commentators and panelists presented many interesting and new things for me about circular economy, but in addition to Elina Larssons commentary, especially Tuovi Kurttio’s contributions caught my attention. Tuovi Kurttio is a Senior Adviser (Strategy and Development) at Helsinki Metropolitan Area Reuse Center (Kierrätyskeskus) and she was one of the invited speakers in the panel discussion.


Tuovi Kurttio told about her own relationship to different kind of stuff, mostly home items. She told that she likes the change that comes with changing for example curtains. This made me think existent and possible but yet non-existent relations to stuff.


As we currently overuse the natural resources and therefore destabilize the ecosystem (and through that, quite everything), the positive meanings of stuff becomes kind of forbidden in my thoughts, which means that love for stuff becomes a forbidden love.


If we one day had such a system that wouldn´t be based on the overuse of natural resources, we could actually enjoy all the meanings of stuff, that it admittedly has. Now why wouldn´t we go for that?


For more about global approach in education, see the Global bread and The international Federation of Home economics, provided as a part of Elina Larssons comment.


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