Empowering the stakeholders

What do you get when you give paints, sticks and canvases to a bunch of SEAmBOTH stakeholders and tell them to drip, drop, slam, splatter and splurge us a better and a healthier Bothnian Bay? You get a triptyck of three individual, yet still connected paintings with beautifully balanced colors and patterns, that look like they were made by one individual or at least in close cooperation.

4 people painting one canvas together on the floor.
Painting in action! Photo by Essi Keskinen, Metsähallitus.

What we wanted to demonstrate with the action painting part of the workshop was that we are all working towards the same goal, a healthier Bothnian Bay (or a triptyck), and we all have to work together, with different coworkers with a different view to the task, and we might have to pick up the work that others left behind, and we are not always able to do everything as we plan and from the beginning, but the result might still be acceptable or even good.

A local artist Hanna Holopainen from Oulu navigated us through the action painting workshop.

Hanna Holopainen in the middle, other people on the sides. Canvas and paints on foreground.
Getting instructions for the action painting. Photo by Essi Keskinen, Metsähallitus.

We also heard presentations about Zonation (Elina Virtanen from SYKE), national EMMA -work in Finland (ecologically significant marine areas, Juho Lappalainen, SYKE) and different conservation areas in the Finnish marine areas (Joonas Hoikkala, Metsähallitus). The rest of the time we went through the results which the SEAmBOTH project has gained, and what kind of maps can be drawn from them.

Among the approximately 30 participants, we had civil cervants and students, biologists, geographers, GIS-people, scuba divers, recreational boaters, travel promotional people, marine spatial planners and meny more. We had a lively conversation about the many uses of maps, how to improve them, what everyone expects from them and how to gain the best from the information collected by SEAmBOTH.

Black background with some green and blue lights. Slideshow showing picture of rocks and sea.
Marine vibes at Kokardi-klubi. Photo by Essi Keskinen, Metsähallitus.

Everyone agreed, that one of the best and most informative, if not the best, maps was the one where underwater nature was somehow valued for the benefit of the viewer – the most biodiverse areas with most threatened species with the least amount of human pressures were already picked out and colored the darkest in the map. This way the end user doesn’t have to know biology, doesn’t have to combine information from many different maps and doesn’t have to make any more decisions than whether to believe in the expert work behind the map and what to do with that information.

Two tables with maps, papers, post-it-sticks and pens on them.
Discussion about the end products of our project. Photo by Essi Keskinen, Metsähallitus.

As much as we appreciate the feedback given by the participants, we also wanted to promote a great local location for various venues, Kokardiklubi. The premises used to serve as a movie theater for solders training at the area. Now the place hosts plays, shows, bands, meetings etc. Oulu is applying for a cultural capital of Europe 2026 and we in SEAmBOTH wanted to promote the venue and point out, that everyone around the Bothnian Bay is connected to a healthy and ecologically functioning sea – we all draw inspiration, health, food, mental nourishment, recreation and relaxation from it. None of us is cut of from the sea – we all get something from it.

Painting ready.
One of our paintings. Photo by Essi Keskinen, Metsähallitus.

Written by Essi Keskinen

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