Tuesday, April 28, 2015

5 Ways Immigrants, Youth, and New Ideas Can Save Pori's Kauppahalli

Satakunnan Kansa, as well as many online forums, has been writing a lot lately about the "demise" of Pori's Kauppahalli, or indoor market. Some blame the new Puuvilla shopping center, others blame the lack of parking spaces, or the high food prices. While I'm sure all of these factors all play somewhat of a role, I think the major player is the market's image.

I started going to Kauppahalli in 2013, once I learned that Pori actually had one. I instantly fell in love with the cute cafes, ripe, local vegetables, and the various cuts of fresh meat. After having lunch there a few times, though, I began to notice something: I was always the youngest person there. And, I was the only immigrant there. In the two years that I've been a regular customer, I've only ever seen people around my age having lunch at Ravintola Maku, a restaurant in the back of the hall that has one of the best lunches in the city - and that's not an every day occurrence. When I tell people my age that I'm going there, they say "Oh, yeah! I love Maku!", yet I still usually find myself eating in a room full of people that are much, much older than me. Immigrants, however, don't even seem to know that Pori has such a place. I've taken Polish, Afghan, Norwegian, and Canadian people there, and every single person has had the same reaction: "I had no idea this was here!"

It's clear that there is both an advertising and image problem,and I've got a few ideas on how we, as a city, can solve it:

1. Make Kauppahalli education part of immigrants' integration programs. Both the Multicultural Association of Satakunta and Winnova can partner with the hall to help teach immigrants about Finnish food traditions, as well as give immigrants a warm, accepting environment to practice using the Finnish language when purchasing groceries or ordering food. The  stalls get more promotion, and the immigrants get to know more about the city and city's culture, all while also discovering where to find rarer cuts of meat and different kinds of foods one may not find in regular shops.

2- Hold workshops. exhibitions, and lectures about food, such as sausage-making, pickling, counter top gardening, eating sustainably, or basic cheese making. Then, market these events well through social media and through flyers on school campuses.

3. Let young chefs or entrepreneurs do pop-up stalls. If a young chef has a concept for a cafe or shop they'd like to try, let them rent a space for only two or three weeks so they can see if their idea works. This encourages young people and their friends to follow through with ideas ny showing that the local food community cares and values their potential contributions to society.

4. Do something niche. Move the halal market from by the bus station to Kauppahalli, or open a second halal market that serves fresh, not frozen, meat. Have a vegan shop, or a Russian shop. Bring in something that people can't get anywhere else in Pori, and people will come.

5. Take social media seriously. Use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to showcase the beautiful and delicious things Kauppahalli has to offer. Don't just make one post a day with a lunch list, or the occasional post about a sale on cheeses. Spend a few hours a week truly engaging followers, and the results will show.

I love this city, and part of my love for the city stems from the fact that we have a place like Kauppahalli. We need to make sure we keep it alive, because if it dies, it's never coming back. We need to act on our ideas, and try to make a real difference rather than just writing articles and then doing nothing. Together, as a city, we can help preserve this place.

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