We organize yearly MUST Festivals to stimulate discussion about multispecies justice and inspire people to act for biodiversity. The inaugural MUST Festival was organized in Turku in the beginning of June, 2024.

The first MUST Festival connected the newest scientific knowledge of multispecies justice with the perspectives of citizens, activists, and city officials in Turku on June 7–8, 2024. The diverse festival program offered immersive experiences, interactive performances, and community discussions where we together imagined and worked on a city shared among all living beings.

During the festival, we brought together people interested in multispecies justice with MUST project researchers in a broad variety of events. We sought to share ideas, learn about multispecies justice, and find ways to work together to halt biodiversity loss.

In addition, the MUST Festival gave the participants a chance to share their experiences and views on multispecies urban life and to experience a sense of community around important societal issues. Our researchers learned a lot from festival encounters – and according to festival feedback, so did the participants.

Joukko ihmisiä on kupoliteatterin sisällä seuraamassa audioviduaalista näytöstä Suomen metsien äänimaisemien muutoksista. Kolmelle kankaalle on heijastettu kuvia metsästä ja lisätietoa. Kuva: Christopher Raymond.

At the MUST Festival, we organized two dialogue workshops to discuss land use in the Turku region and human and natural diversity. We also took the participants on a tour to the soundscapes of the Finnish forests in our brand-new MUST Dome Theater. In the Dome Theater, we discussed the impact of humans on the soundscapes of forests, for example with 40 children participating in Aurala Youth Association summer activities.

Monimuotoisuuskioskilla Turun taidemuseolla tutkija näyttää festivaaliosallistujalle karttatietoja tietokoneen ruudulta. Kuva: Agustin Garagorry.

During the MUST Festival, the Turku Art Museum was buzzing. At the GIS Kiosk in the museum’s lobby, we brought the maps depicting natural diversity and urban spaces to the public. In addition, our guided theme tour to the Handle With Care exhibition familiarized the festival participants with caring as a responsible and reciprocal way of living and being, where the worlds of humans and non-human beings meet.

Joukko ihmisiä Puolalanpuistossa Turun taidemuseon edustalla lähdössä opastetulle puistokävelylle. Kuva: Agustin Garagorry.

Next door in Puolalanpuisto, we explored the park with the help of squirrels, butterflies, seagulls, and dandelions as tour guides. What new things can we learn from borrowing the perspective of another species? Experiencing a new perspective of other city dwellers – both humans and other animals – is an important part of understanding multispecies justice. It was great to see what thoughts even a short visit to a familiar park can evoke.

Palaute post-it-lapulla puistokävelylytä, jossa lukee: Siinä Eläin-opas tehtävässä oli kiva seurata eläimiä ja muita eläimiä. Hymiöitä. Kuva: Pauliina Rautio.

For MUST project researchers, the MUST Festival was an important opportunity to collect research material. In addition, we learned to understand people’s different perceptions and thoughts on multispecies justice.

Discussions with participants highlighted, for instance, the needs and demands of urban planning and the tensions; defending nature values ​​is easy when you don’t have to compromise on other needs and objectives. One of our participants put it aptly: “Change in the city starts with the need for construction and nature values ​​cannot be defended on a detailed level if they are not explicitly written in norms or standards.

We are very grateful to the festival participants for the time we got to spend together and the exchange of ideas – this helps us to do research and to communicate perspectives related to multispecies justice in the future. Thanks for joining us in Turku!

Salla Kässi & Kari Jalonen, Demos Helsinki

Pictures: 1., 3. ja 4. Agustín Garagorry, 2. Christopher Raymond, 5. Pauliina Rautio.