AREFS taide ja kulttuuri ry
AREFS art and culture association

  • Savon Radan ryhmä organizes activities along the historical Savo line


Nature is the base of live, all mammals come from there. One day human race start their existing on earth in unlimited space of woods, tundra's and water areas. Humans are the only specious that has been able to start living on different places by changing its conditions. Finally people are living as well as in rural as in urban areas. As result of the industrial revolution in the 19th century more people are moving to urban regions to find a job and in 2013 almost 2/3 of the world populations lives in cities. The result is that the countryside is losing its meaning, importance and coherence. However, the natural urge to want to be in nature remains to many as big wish.

In Finland 4 million people are living in more or less urban regions and 1.5 million in the countryside. Already during decades national politics is focusing on centralization of public services, like education, health, police, governmental services. Many small villages were merged and finally incorporated into urban 'units' with the intention to reduce costs and increase efficiency. Result of the process is closing the network of small schools, health care services and safety services like police. It seems it is a pity that there are still people living in the countryside. 

Should it be possible to create other solutions? Solutions in which the human creativity and "out of the box" thinking prevail.

"Come and move to our lovely countryside", has been a slogan by Mikkeli city, "we guarantee you good services". This slogan means in reality "do it yourself", we as your representatives are interested in urban development only. 

In the last decades Finland has received from the EU huge amounts to develop the countryside, now most of the results will be destroyed by focusing on economic values only. Step by step the countryside looses its coherency by reducing the public services for economic reasons.
Maybe there will be a day the countryside has returned to its roots, a wilderness without people living in it. Which is great option for wilderness lovers, like muse, bear and deer.

As the children are the only valuable capital of a civilization and they are the only guarantee for a civilized future, it is unbelievable how politicians and authorities can prefer the short-term economic gain over viability of the whole country in the long term. It is a shame that in super rich and prosperous countries they can score easier with lower taxes than with a higher budget for a sustainable future. Is it because children are not voting that their preferences are not valid?
Russell Brand said it clearly: "Politicians don't represent the interests of people who don't vote. They barely care about the people who do vote. They look after the corporations who get them elected." 
A politician about closing small schools: "I think it is not a really bad plan, because no child has contact me to complain", which shows the relevancy of Russell Brand's quote.

Which politicians are brave enough to say to their voters that they live in a social society with a long tradition of care and collaboration which has saved them for violence and domination and they will destroy that by claming more personal luxury at the expenses of the community. Cut back on education, culture, health and other public duties is mismanagement and finally everyone will suffer the disadvantages. First of all the stakeholders who are now suffering from closures, fewer services and longer distances to find care and ultimately those who now benefit from thought to have. They will discover that society has become poorer, less to offer and has become much more expensive.

The endless trust authorities, politicians and managers have in consultants and their reports is fascinating. Most of these reports seem to justify their desired option and are unnecessary and a costly luxury. The knowledge of most subjects is present in their own office and on their own qualified staff. Is there any politician, official or manager who calculates the costs of all these reports and how these costs relate to the targeted savings? An integrity policymaker is easily silenced with the arguments that  savings must be done and that this absolutely will not reduce the quality.   

Below the political strategy as written on the official website of the ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the result of the "strategic objective of 2014-2017 better well-being" of the council of Mikkeli. Both are describing the importance of the countryside, but the practical implementation shows that this fine policy has no value. 

The attached PDF files (in Finnish) show the discrepancy between 'believe' and practice.

oskari - 6th class hiirola - 2011 - forest

arttu - 5th class hiirola - 2011 - meadow

samuli - 5th class hiirola - 2011 - forest in winter

The paintings are made by children at the rural school in Hiirola. They visualized their natural environment in a unique way. These children were lucky, they could go to school quite near to their home and they were able to have their friends as well as at home as at school. They were also able to explore their environment intensively as their way to school did not take so much time.
From 2013-2014 many children are 1½ - 2½ hour per day in a taxi or bus to visit the school. How pedagogic it is to let children be passive for such a long time? The Finnish school system is famous around the world and one of the unknown qualities is the time children spend with playing outside. Every hour they are in the playground for 15 minutes. It is strange that authorities take the responsibility for this curriculum and in the same time (rural) children condemned to immobility during an important part of the day.

Authorities in the field of education are warning for the lack of mobility during childhood and the time spend behind television and computer (games). This will hinder and damage the childlike development and lay the foundation for future physical and mental problems. The costs for this are not calculated in the proposed savings. That these pedagogic authorities are not consulted and/or heard, is a sign of mismanagement and contempt for the next generation that has no voice to make themselves heard.

Where are the politicians standing up for the world of tomorrow for our children, or are they all waiting until it is too late and the countryside is empty and there are no people available to do the work? 

Finnish rural policy

Finland’s rural policy aims to ensure that the Finnish countryside continues to thrive by keeping jobs and services close to people, by enhancing infrastructures including transport and telecommunications connections, and by ensuring that rural residents have housing to meet their needs and wishes.

The rural policy is place-based, and purposefully shaped to benefit rural communities and livelihoods in all of Finland’s regions. The rural policy is carried out in all sectors of society (public, private and civil society) and at all levels from the village or municipal level to the regional, national and international levels. Finland has a long tradition of village-based activities, which continue to play an important part in the practical realisation of rural policies.

OECD Rural Policy Review of Finland (2008) described Finland as a pioneer in this field, praising its unique rural policy model. Finland’s rural policy network is exceptionally extensive and horizontally based. The national Rural Policy Committee plays a central role in this network. This government-appointed committee includes representatives from rural and development institutes and key actors from regional and local organisations, as well as experts appointed from within the administrative authorities.

Updated 8.10.2012

Tavoitteena elinvoimainen ja toimiva maaseutu

Maaseutupolitiikan tavoitteena Suomessa on taata elinvoimainen ja toimiva maaseutu. Tämä edellyttää asumisen, työn tekemisen ja yrittämisen edellytysten parantamista. Maaseudun tulee pysyä nykyistä vahvemmin alueellisessa ja kansallisessa kehittämisessä mukana.

Maaseutupolitiikkaa linjattaessa otetaan huomioon mm. alueellisuus, osaaminen, yhteistyö, ja verkostoituminen, kestävä kehitys sekä eri väestöryhmien tasavertaisten osallistumis- ja elinkeinomahdollisuuksien parantaminen. Viime aikoina on vahvistettu erityisesti maaseudun paikallista kehittämistä ja omatoimisuutta. Maaseudun kehittämistyössä tarvitaan EU:n maaseutu- ja rakennerahastopolitiikan rinnalle kansallisia linjauksia ja politiikkatoimia.

Maaseutupolitiikan yhteistyöryhmän sekä maa- ja metsätalousministeriön ja työ- ja elinkeinoministeriön maaseutupoliittinen tavoite on elinvoimainen maaseutu ja toimivat maaseutuelinkeinot.

Preserving the vitality of the Finnish countryside

The countryside remains a vital part of Finland in both cultural and socio-economic terms. It produces local food, timber and other essential products and services for Finnish society. It is essential to ensure that Finland’s rural areas continue to be attractive places to live and work.

Finland is one of the most rural countries in the EU. About 27% of the population, almost 1.5 million people, still live in the countryside today, although increasing numbers of people are choosing to live in the countryside but travel to work in urban areas in other localities.

The countryside also provides settings for many leisure activities. People come from urban centres to the countryside to enjoy its natural settings or simply the peace and quiet it can offer. But to attract such visitors the countryside must remain viable.

Rural livelihoods are becoming increasingly diverse. Farming has a central role in some rural areas and continues to shape rural landscapes. Other vital economic activities include the production of timber and wood products, foodstuffs processing, rural tourism, handicrafts and the provision of local services.

Ministry of agriculture and forestry

Elinvoimainen ja asuttu maaseutu on Suomen rikkaus

Maaseutu on olennainen osa suomalaista asutusta ja kulttuuria. Se turvaa ruoan ja puun tuotannon sekä tuottaa muita tärkeitä tuotteita ja palveluita koko yhteiskunnalle. Tavoitteena on, että maaseutu on houkutteleva asuinympäristö ja että se tarjoaa työtä ja elämisen mahdollisuuksia.

Suomi on yksi Euroopan unionin maaseutumaisimpia maita, jossa 27 prosenttia väestöstä eli lähes 1,5 miljoonaa asukasta asuu maaseutumaisimmilla alueilla, ydin- ja harvaan asutulla maaseudulla. Yhä useammalle maaseutu on paikka asua. Työssä käydään keskuksissa asuinpaikkakunnan ulkopuolella.

Toisaalta maaseudulla vietetään vapaa-aikaa. Keskuksissa asuvat etsivät maaseudulta virkistys- ja liikuntamahdollisuuksia tai rauhaa ja hiljaisuutta. Kaikki tämä edellyttää elinvoimaista maaseutua.

Maaseutuelinkeinojen kirjo on kasvava. Maatalous on edelleen keskeinen maaseudun elinkeino ja sen vaikutus maaseutumaisemaan on merkittävä. Ympäristöasiat ovat korostuneet entisestään, samoin tuotantoeläinten hyvinvointi. Maaseudun muu yrittäjyys painottuu mm. puutuotealalle, elintarvikkeiden jatkojalostukseen, maaseutumatkailuun, käsityöyrittäjyyteen sekä palveluihin.

Maaseutuelinkeinojen valituslautakunta lakkautetaan (16.09.2013)

Maa- ja metsätalousministeriö

An interesting publication is User-driven development of the city and its services by the city of Mikkeli. It seems that the rural regions of the city (which are many times larger than the city) are also in the picture. One day the discussion will also take place in the villages, it is not clear when.

On Mikkeli website about the school of Hiirola:
Hiirolan koulu on toiminut vuodesta 1954. Vuosituhannen alussa remontoitu koulurakennus sijaitsee Pieksämäentien varrella, noin 12 km Mikkelistä.

Tarjoamme esi- ja perusopetusta kolmen luokanopettajan voimin miellyttävässä ja rauhallisessa maalaisympäristössä luonnon läheisyydessä. Kiinteistössä työskentelevät myös siistijä ja ruuanjakaja. Puhtaasta sisäilmasta saa nauttia myös koulussa toimiva iltapäiväkerho.


Koululla on monipuoliset ulkoliikuntamahdollisuudet, kuntosali ja bändi-tila. Hiirolan kylällä on erittäin aktiivinen kylätoimikunta.

poem of Leslie Marmon Silko, from her book Ceremony:

Then they grow away from the earth
then they grow away from the sun
then they grow away from the plants and the animals.

They see no life.
When they look
they see only objects.
The world is a dead thing for them
the trees and the rivers are not alive.
the mountains and stones are not alive.
The deer and bear are objects.
They see no life.

They fear.
They fear the world.
They destroy what they fear.
They fear themselves.

Finally children turn away from nature, as you can see in a commercial  which is the ultimate vision of Toys 'R' Us the toys giant.
Click here to see the commercial of Toys 'R' Us.

The book "Last child in the Woods" by Richard Louv describes were this ends. The latest version of the book contents new and updated research confirming that direct exposure to nature is essential for the physical and emotional health of children and adults.
Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder has spurred a national dialogue among educators, health professionals, parents, developers and conservationists. This is a book that will change the way you think about your future and the future of your children.
Click here to get information about this publication.

"If we don't want our young people to tear apart our communities then don't let people in power tear apart the values that hold our communities together."

from an article by Russell Brand

The David Suzuki Foundation in Canada is an organization which mission is to protect the diversity of nature and our quality of life, now and for the future.

Richard Louv is a journalist and author of eight books about the connections between family, nature and community. His newest book is The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder (Algonquin), which offers a new vision of the future, in which our lives are as immersed in nature as they are in technology. This future, available to all of us right now, offers better psychological, physical and spiritual health for people of every age.

An interesting website is by Children & Nature Network with articles, programs and possibilities to share experiences and expertise.












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