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20/10/2023 Meri-Rastila

Helsinki, Finland

HIDDEN SANCTUARIES

Granite boulders rumble, molded in lapping seawater into smooth, spherical shapes, while finer grains recede over time with the ebb of ocean currents. What remains today, some seven millennia later, is a peculiar landscape of uniformly sized rounded rocks that once ignited the imagination of ancient Finns, who aptly named it 'pirunpelto' or the Devil’s field. 

 

Nina, a lifelong resident of Vuosaari, has led us to her hidden sanctuary in Meri-Rastila. "I love discovering different types of lichen growing on these rocks," she remarks. 

 

This ancient coastline, which was once part of the Littorina Sea before evolving into the Baltic Sea, found itself at the center of the city's plans a few years ago. The city of Helsinki intended to construct new apartment buildings around it, effectively transforming it into a residential courtyard. "When I met with representatives from the city, they expressed amazement that this place even existed,” Nina explains, reflecting on how the local residents  invited politicians and city planners to visit the area. She continues, voicing her frustration, “It became clear that some of them hadn't set foot on the very land where they were proposing such significant changes.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Anything can be proposed in your neighborhood."

Today, this rocky terrain resides within the Ramsinniemi Nature Reserve, which not only serves as a popular recreational area for the nearby residents but hosts a variety of landscapes. Here, gnarled old pine trees grow alongside stands of black alder and spruce, and numerous bird species, including the red-breasted flycatcher, winter wren, and the greenish warbler, find their habitat. 

 

In 2018, the local residents achieved a temporary victory by preventing the city's plans to clear significant portions of Meri-Rastila’s diverse forests. Initially having joined the local residents' association because of their enjoyable events and social gatherings, Nina soon became actively involved in zoning matters, recognizing their importance. She explains, "Anything can be proposed in your neighborhood."

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