Environmental Research is Now Settling Into the Nest

Written by: Nesslingin Säätiö | May 2, 2016 | In category: Blog

On an April Monday at the Nessling Nest, you might spot a bunch of mining researchers, a reporter, or the solver of a food mystery. The workspace unites experts from different fields and gives thoughts room to breathe.

The workspace for researchers, Nessling Nest, has received its first inhabitants, all of whom are solving environmental challenges. Working at the Nest are, for example, a doctor of microbiology, an architect, a sociologist, a doctor of technology, an international politics researcher and a legal scholar. Now, some of the inhabitants tell us about their work and life at the Nest. How are environmental challenges being solved at the location?

Digging into the minds of mining researchers

Maija Lassila (front left), Laura Matkala, Anna Karjalainen, Piippa Wäli, Uzair Khan ja Sonja Kivinen gathered in Nest to get to know each other.

A meeting is taking place in the Aula of the Nessling Nest, which could be described as the heart of the Nest’s activity. The foundation hopes that above all, the space will enable encounters and the exchange of ideas. Acting as the motor of the ongoing meeting is Piippa Wäli, who studies plant ecology and receives funding from the Nessling Foundation. She is investigating how natural hays and their microbes can be utilized in cleansing soil that has been polluted by mining. After hearing about the funding decision, she realised that she is not the only one of Nessling’s researchers whose research involves mines.

As a result of the realization, seven researchers from different fields, with mines as their research focus gathered in the Nest’s Aula to get to know each other and tell each other about their work. They wish to collaborate in the future.

“These are precisely the kind of encounters we were hoping the Nest would create when we made the decision to open the space. When different kinds of people have a place to encounter each other, novelty is born,” describes the foundation’s head of research, Minttu Jaakkola.

A food mystery is solved

Mari Koistinen is working in the room called Lily of the valley.

A book that sinks its teeth into food is currently resting on Mari Koistinen’s computer desk. The book, ‘Ruokamysteerit’ (Food Mysteries), comes out at the start of next year. It delves into the ethics and ecology of food, but the necessity for food to be nutritious is not forgotten. Lately, Koistinen’s mind has been kept occupied by pulled oats and insect nutrition, as well as by the possibilities of using algae as nutrition for cattle or humans.

“I think it would be great to come up with a term to describe climate-friendly eating. It involves so much more than just cutting down or quitting meat consumption. Replacing meat with dairy products, for example, is just as harmful for the climate,” Koistinen says.

She has been working at the Nest for one and a half months. According to her, the best part of it is the interesting crew who she shares the space with. Especially intriguing are the regular breakfast moments, where the people working in the space take turns to tell about their work.

“It’s my turn next. The others were very interested in insect nutrition, so I promised to arrange some tasters for them for breakfast,” Koistinen smiles.

Take a look at the insect breakfast here.

A nonfiction book grew into a thesis project

Pasi Toiviainen likes the tranquility of the Nest.

Pasi Toiviainen is working on two projects at once at the Nest. The projects are linked by the same topic: ecological construction. Toiviainen begun writing a book on the subject, but realized that the necessary background research for it did not exist. Thus he had to start researching it himself.

“The history of ecological architecture has been poorly researched, so I applied to do a thesis on the topic as a postgraduate student. Now my thesis and nonfiction book project are coming together side by side,” Toiviainen reveals.

His earlier projects have been completed in cafés. Eventually, the buzz of cafés became annoying and so the tranquillity of the Nest feels pleasant. One of the books Toiviainen has previously written is ‘Ilmastonmuutos. Nyt.’ (Climate Change. Now.) The subject still troubles him.

“The climate crisis is so profound, that it demands a shift in values and attitudes from humans and the whole of society. I don’t think that the crisis will be solved with just technological solutions or magic tricks,” Toiviainen says.

A thesis that delves into climate politics

Johanna Kentala Lehtonen works at the Birch room of the Nest.

Johanna Kentala-Lehtonen works as the coordinator of the Forum for Environmental Information. What she finds alluring about the job is the Nest’s diverse group of researchers, all of whom are united by the environment. However, everyone has their own angle to approaching the environment.

“People come from different fields and that is truly fascinating. You meet people here who you otherwise wouldn’t,” Kentala-Lehtonen says.

She will soon be switching from the coordinator’s work to undertaking her thesis. So, work at the Nest will continue. In her research, she digs into how business influences climate politics.

“Quite a big shift in values and norms is taking place in society with regards to climate change. Thankfully, because the change is happening at the last minute.”

Kentala-Lehtonen is referring to how there is still time to react to climate change and alter our functioning to be more climate-friendly. If we do not react now, such massive changes will have to be made later that humankind may incapable of making them.

“The Paris climate deal was already a significant and big step. Hopefully the direction we have chosen will remain,” hopes Kentala-Lehtonen.

Place for encounters

Hannele Huhtala works at the Perch room of the Nest.

During her first month at the Nest, Hannele Huhtala has had time to collect a stack of story ideas and assemble writers. She is the editor-in-chief of a magazine called Huili. She is especially excited by all the encounters that the Nest has made possible.

“Researchers here are working to find solutions. At Huili, we specifically want to write about solutions instead of, for example, making people feel more anxious about climate change. In that sense, the Nest is an excellent place to hunt for story ideas and contacts,” Huhtala recounts.

She likes how the workspace can be used for several purposes. Recently, Huili organised a clothes repair workshop related to the Fashion Revolution. After the workshop, consumption has stayed on Huhtala’s mind.

“Everyone has to buy clothes, even though it is not always environmentally friendly. At the workshop, we repaired T-shirts and jeans, learned to fix the zippers on shoes and to patch clothes under the guidance of professionals. We consume so much, that it would be good for everyone to think about how we consume, and how we take care of our stuff,” she reminds us.

 

Environmental researchers can apply for a place at the Nessling Nest workspace regardless of their funders. The places are offered for a maximum of one year at a time. The pop-up places are available at short notice.

Find out more about the Nest and apply for your place here.