Thursday, 3 July 2014

A remarkable comic book on saving a neighbourhood

"For decades these rooms have been homes, workshops and storerooms"
Tiitu Takalo, an accomplished Finnish comics artist, has published a remarkable story on how a complete block of houses was saved from demolition. The houses were built about a century ago in a working class area of Tampere. In the mid-sixties the city authorities laid down a plan that would demolish all the houses in the block. The city started buying up the houses and left them without repair. Soon the houses were in bad shape and the city moved towards pulling them all down.

However, some of the inhabitants and a group of civic activists stood up to protest. The fight over the houses took decades but ended in triumph. Now all the houses in the block are occupied by people who share a similar idea of town living - neighbourliness, ecological and simple life.

The comic book (237 pp) reiterates the story of the place and the phases of the struggle with the city. Intertwined in the book is also Tiitu's personal love story with Mikko, with whom she now shares a flat in the block. The book documents historical events, a lot of facts, numbers, dates, names etc., but the author makes them vivid, with an almost tangible presence of herself and her values.

The book is an enjoyable read - the artist uses different narrative styles brilliantly, from quasi-medieval to neo-realistic and to romantic. It is almost impossible to imagine that the same story could have been told as well in any other medium than comics.

The book, "Minä, Mikko ja Annikki" is available only in Finnish, but you can check Tiitu Takalo's other works on her website: http://www.tiitutakalo.net/index.php?page=english

(posted by Leif Packalen)


Planning the renovation work.

Finally, the city of Tampere decides to sell the block to the activists

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