LED 2016 Group I Landscape Democracy Challenge 4

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Grefsen, Oslo: Quiet Desicion Making


Place name Grefsen
Location Oslo
Country Norway
Author(s) Kjersti B Skjelbreid
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Rationale: Why have you chosen this case for the landscape and democracy seminar?

The municipal sector plan for the area Grefsen, describing the development of Oslo towards 2030, in Oslo approved big changes in the area without the local municipality taking notice of it. A local newspaper wrote about it after it was already decided, which lead to a big conflict and strong reactions from the local municipality. The reactions are regarding the massive changes, for instance that it will be possible to build 12 stories high, but also regarding the "quiet" decision maiking, which is my focus.

Oslo’s population is growing very fast and both local and national governments are under a lot of pressure as the housing marked is not keeping up the speed with building new homes, and goals for lower greenhouse gases should be reached. Because of this, like in most other big cities, there’s a solid focus on building new residental areas as taller apartment blocks around public transport nodes. Grefsen station is such a transport node, and the housing around it consists of single houses with big gardens. Such an area has been reallocated into a much denser city area, which most would agree is necessary, but it’s been done without any involvement of local municipality. Local politicians has also missed out on the decisions that has been made, which is a huge mistake – but also says something about how hard it is to keep up with what’s happening in our own neighbourhoods.   There’s requirements by law to send out suggestions for such decisions for consultation, and people have a chance to have an opinion. Local politicians and home owners in the area have had such chance, otherwise the decision would have been invalid. But it’s the way it has (not) been communicated that is the big challenge – it’s clear that no one wanted any opinions from locals, and have done only what is required, but not paying attention to why it’s required to gather information from those affected by the decision. � These kind of challenges are very important for me to understand and work with. It's a very important aspect of my city and my landscape education, because densification is a very central part of the future of Oslo and any other city, and participation is very important in the process of densification and transformation of existing housing areas. The challenge also rises the questions about conservation versus renewal.

At the same time, the situation is difficult because these densification processes are necessary, but extremely unpopular. So if there would have been a more including decision making process, and the opinions coming out of this should be listened to and implemented, such low densified housing areas would keep existing in central transport nodes, and the goals for Oslo would perhaps not be reached. But I think even the people who live in this very area know this, and I’m absolutely certain that there might have been a better solution to the problem than keeping the whole process a secret until it’s too late.

Representation of your observations

  • you are basically free to use one or a mix of different presentation techniques
  • possibilities are: analytical drawings, graphical representations, collages, video clips, comic/graphic novel, written essay/visual essay
  • please add any visual material to the gallery, videos can be placed below, you may add text as you like

Reflection

There are to aspects that are highly relevant for change: 1. information 2. involvement

1: INFOMATION Today, all those with knowledge on the subject who is interviewed by journalists etc. after this conflict, for example in the mentioned debate or in the newspapers, say that the documents are too complicated for most people to understand. This is non-democratic, and the standard for such documents should be changed, and additional information should always follow: a "translated" and less complicated version, that everyone should be able to read, including people with little education and youth.

2. INVOLVEMENT Not only should the documents be easier to read, but governments and other powerholders should actively search for involvment and opinions by the citizens, and value people who would like to contribute with their opinion, instead of seing them as a barrier on the way to their goal. Local information is of high value for building projects, and local voices and opinions are of high value for our democracy.

What could be a starting point for democractically-based change?

  • Please add approx. 150 words in essay style

There are several things I would like to suggest as focus areas for democratically-based change:

It's important to continue the debate started by the case at Grefsen. Local and national governments should reflect on how this was possible, what caused thie issues and how this conflict could have been avvoided.

Documents describing plans and changes like this should be simplified, and information stream about these documents and processes should reach out to citizens to a greater extent, for example in school.

As mentioned, there should also be a general interest among developers and politicians to include local citizens in decision making – not only making it possible for them to contribute, but actually actively consulting them.


AS PRESENTED IN MY SLIDES, I SUGGEST FOCUSING ON 2 LEVELS: INFORMATION AND INVOLVEMENT

1: INFORMATION Today, all those with knowledge on the subject who is interviewed by journalists etc. after this conflict, for example in the mentioned debate or in the newspapers, say that the documents are too complicated for most people to understand. This is non-democratic, and the standard for such documents should be changed, and additional information should always follow: a “translated” and less complicated version, that everyone should be able to read, including people with little education and youth.


2: INVOLVEMENT Not only should the documents be easier to read, but governments and other powerholders should actively search for involvment by the citiznes, and value people who would like to contribute with their opinion, instead of seing them as a barrier on the way to their goal. Local information is of high value for building projects, and local voices and opinions are of high value for our democracy.

References

  • Please make sure that you give proper references of all external resources used.
  • Do not use any images of which you do not hold the copyright.
  • Please add internet links to other resources if necessary.

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