Design Dog Park Drive
First things first: it was so much fun! The “warm up” on Friday and then Saturday were a success in spite of the low temperature, and considering the schedule and available resources.
The Design Dog Park initiative attracted the interest of the media. Radio Helsinki did an interview in their morning broadcast 2.2.2012. The hosts had some tricky questions but I suppose we passed with flying colours. Tero uploaded the interview on-line, feel free to download and listen to it: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/631247/%20-%20.mp3 (in Finnish). Of the ample supply of the WDC Weekend, the Design Dog Park drive had caught the eye of a few popular bloggers. In addition, Helsingin Sanomat called in the morning of the event and wanted to know how dog park initiative with the city is getting on. It was great and of course a bit baffling to find this many people who were suddenly interested in combining design and a dog park. And of course: this is much-needed publicity for the project and will (I hope) be noted in the Public Works Department so that they’ll give us a substantial role in the designing process.
Because we had a budget of exactly 0 euros and a small group of people to organise the drive, we had to find sponsors to support the event. Stara kindly let us use their snow shovels, snow pushers and big tubs that the participants could use to build “perhaps the first ever” snow dog park.
Using the shovels, we built also an igloo where dogs, kids young and old could crawl in. After the darkness fell, the ice lanterns that lighted the scene received a lot of good feedback from people who moved in the area. Turns out it was worthwhile having the five buckets freezing over on my tine balcony for five nights!
Arabian Faunatar (in Finnish) and Neroko, a company that designs goods for homes with dogs, sponsored the event. Web service Dogia (in Finnish) donated reflectors that were handed out in the drive. The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra that builds and researches wellbeing in the society sent an employee to the dog park drive to tell us about initiatives that are based on self-direction and new innovative operation models. Unfortunately, the grocery shops in the region didn’t reply to our enquiries, and thus Spirit of Artova gave a helping hand in covering the cost of modest catering. The Marttas of Vihti gave us cinnamon rolls and cookers to make coffee, and Nurmijärvi strawberry farm let us use a tent where the serving table and materials were sheltered from the cold. In addition, we had lanterns, carpets, blankets and long benches for creating atmosphere. The skiing track attendant from Helsinki City Sports Department was kind and came on a short notice to use a levelling drag to turn a meadow with a thick layer of snow into a smooth and durable field for our event.
In addition to members of the dog association, we were joined by passers-by, dog walkers, skiers from the near-by tracks and people who had come specifically to have a look at the WDC Weekend events. Fiskars had invited two international journalists to explore the Arabianranta area, and they also visited our dog park drive. Tero was the one from our group to accompany the journalists. They walked the WDC Weekend route from Arabianranta to Vanhankaupunginkoski while Tero presented the art-oriented activities in the area.
In addition to the hot drinks and cinnamon rolls, the event guests were offered the opportunity to familiarise with Design Dog Park plans and to put forward their own opinions and wishes. There was a raffle for those who had submitted their contribution to the dog park plans, and a few lucky guests won some great Neroko products. Many of the
visitors hadn’t heard anything about the plans for a dog park, and in that regard, the event served as a publicity channel. A student of design had prepared incredible signs for the event that were left standing on the field to inform people of the plans for a near-by dog park.
It was quite an ordeal to organise an event of this magnitude in this temperature, with this budget and limited staff. After all, there is only a limited time for preparations and sealing the sponsor deals. What I found especially nice was that even after the event, dog walkers and families used the snow dog park as a recreational space. Over the period of a month, a lot of people came to gape at the igloo and the big cones of snow. And, on Valentine’s Day, we lit the ice lanterns to liven up our dog date event.