Supilinn Society: Its Development and Role Supilinna Selts: kujunemine ja roll

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Aliis Liin


In Estonia, the role of civil society and citizens’ initiatives in the organisation of the country’s life has been talked about loudly only since the turn of this century. The birth of the Supilinn Society, which was established in 2002, coincides with the period when civil society was activated in Estonia. The founders of the Supilinn Society have recalled that the society was not really founded, it was just born. Apparently, the time was ripe, in Estonian society, for the appreciation of a phenomenon like Supilinn.    

Right from the beginning, the Supilinn Society has always played a very social role – it was created more of an association of beliefs and concepts. The main objective became the preservation of Supilinn as such, and its valuable milieu.  It was not an organisation of local property owners, whose only purpose was to promote the improvement of the living environment of its members. During the ten years of its existence, the society’s contribution to the development of Supilinn has been obvious – the society has held active discussions with the city government regarding planning and construction activities in Supilinn; has organised the collection of Supilinn’s folkore and the annual spring cultural festival; has published the district’s newspaper; and has encouraged the local residents to make their common living environment homier and more pleasant. The mutual understanding between the Supilinn Society and the City of Tartu has increased during the years, and ever more substantive cooperation has been achieved. One of the objectives of the Supilinn Society founders – to raise the awareness of Supilinn as a valuable asset and the pride of all Estonia – still has a way to go before being achieved.  The Supilinn Society, like local residents in other areas that are under pressure from large developers, are struggling with the restrictions resulting from legal and bureaucratic thinking that keep the society from effectively participating in spatial planning and the design of public space. However, one can say that the Supilinn residents themselves have embraced their community – based on a poll organised in 2011, the residents, in surprising harmony (about 85% of the respondents), believed that the society’s activities have had a positive impact on Supilinn.

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