Happiness and Degrowth – Glad with less

On February 6, 2013
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Installation, rocking chairs with sound, video, 2011
Video pieces:
Kohtuus / Degrowth, video, dur 00:08:31, 2012
Onni / Happiness, video, dur 00:07:27, 2012

Happiness and Degrowth project is in search of local degrowth methods in people’s everyday life in the means of art and science. The motivations for the project are the pressure from contemporary economical crisis, ecological challenges and people’s happiness. Degrowth ideology is clearly linked to the consumption of natural resources and could act as an economical model for the reduction of consumption and adding to people’s happiness. But, what could this mean in our everyday lives?

Me and sustainable consumption researcher Satu Lähteenoja invited a group of artists and researchers to explore these questions in Salo, Finland during summer 2011.  Salo is a town in economical turmoil due to Nokia factory’s layoffs, and the closing of the factory in 2012. Could degrowth or downshifting enable new era of happiness in Salo? We did  a performative happiness testing with rocking chairs in the Salo market place as well as many interviews. The end result is a video and sound installation with a map to Salo’s local economy – an existing sufficient lifestyle.

The installation has three rocking chairs with different sound (themed Happines, Relaxed and Degrowth). The video projection introduces many types of degrowth ideas. It seeks for answers to the questions: What does degrowth mean practically in local level? Can we survive with less? What does make one happy? What kind of economy Salo could have in the future after vast economical changes and Nokia leaving the town?

The practical solutions for improvement of people’s well-being and advance degrowth were e.g. strengthening the local economy: locally grown food, nearby travelling, local small businesses and exchange of services could be the characteristics of a sustainable town in the future. Another solution was connected the people’s participation in decision making and local democracy: people feel happier when they can influence and participate in the decision making that relates to their surroundings and everyday.

Work group:
Mari Keski-Korsu
Satu Lähteenoja
Artist Freja Bäckman
Researcher and producer Paavo Järvensivu
Recearcher Aleksi Neuvonen, Demos Helsinki
Recearcher Helmi Risku, MTT Agrifood Research Finland

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