Inspired thinkers, inspired doers, teamed for mutual advancement. Follow their ongoing stories as Invitation to Helsinki nurtures the purpose and aspirations of some of the two capital’s most fascinating people.
Going forward, Price is at work on the 2010 Helsinki Spirit of Place project to explore the design and construction of architectural forms that successfully respond to natural and cultural settings in a contemporary language of design. American and Finnish students will design and build a meeting house inspired by the enduring metaphors of the Kalevala on Seurasaari. Price calls the opportunity to work in Finland in this holistic way the model he has been planning for eight years that finally found its nest to incubate. “My Helsinki experience allowed this vision to finally land, like a bird in a tree. And the egg will crack open in August. How Kalevala is that?”
“In Helsinki teachers met and discussed lesson plans. I want that kind of hub in my school; I’m pressing for that”. Palacios may see her Helsinki-inspired dream come true. She is now working with District of Columbia education officials on the plans for the new Bruce-Monroe facility. “Collaborating together and doing interactive meetings in the mornings across the grade levels, these are ideas instilled by my Helsinki trip.”
“It was wonderful to have an opportunity to involve our volunteers and show them firsthand the breadth and depth of our resources and global engagement. They plant trees but don’t get to often see the broader view. The most important effective tool is the exchange of people; you have to get people working together, it’s very powerful.”
Building potential international experiences for his Duke Ellington students is an ongoing priority - Yarborough has taken groups to France and The Netherlands in the past - and one he’d like to see blossom through his Finland friendships. “I’ve seen firsthand the impact of relationships built globally, young people seeing peers in another place do what they’re doing. There’s validation that this is a worldwide thing, not just something happening on my block or in my school.”
Gilliland found fascinating Finland’s lack of a non-profit culture and HePo’s entirely volunteer efforts. “I understood the state is expected to provide,” says Gilliland. “The government does a lot of bikeway construction throughout the area, but there was no real well developed advocacy group pushing them in a certain direction.”
Pouillon hosted a group of colleagues and the press for “A taste of Finland,” an event at the Embassy of Finland showcasing the many flavors and ingredients Pouillon discovered on her Helsinki trip. “The event was an incredible introduction to Finnish food. People couldn’t stop coming to me and telling me how much they liked the flavors, that they never had them before, that they had no idea Finland had such a cuisine. I’m ready to help audiences - Americans and Finns alike - discover more.”
While Goodstein notes he didn’t travel to Helsinki to become the country’s PR person, he now finds himself citing statistics in his lectures and presentations garnered, for example, during his meetings with Nokia. “Every single meeting was very thought out and impressive,” recalls Goodstein. “I actually personally gained out of just about every meeting, far exceeding my expectations.”
Recent Georgetown University graduate Patrick Dowd calls his visit to Helsinki “a glimpse of things to come.” Says the political and security studies major, “It was really extraordinary taking part in the MYHelsinki expedition, and rare that somebody my age would get such an opportunity.” Dowd plans to explore the possibility of engaging Nokia or other Finnish technology companies as potential stakeholders for his community-based cooperatives.
The Finns were intrigued with Corbett’s groundbreaking work around open government data with projects such as Apps for Democracy, a project sourced innovation directly from talented citizen coders for the Washington, DC government, and data.gov with the Federal government “The possibilities for global impact with data.gov are immense. If we can show countries around the world that the U.S. federal government can open up their data, other countries probably can too.”
Inspired to share his experience of Finnish culture with a greater audience, Okunseinde set about forming FINUS: Finland/United States Cultural Alliance, a non-profit organization supporting and promoting creative cultural activities between the two countries with a focus on Helsinki/Washington, DC relationships and their artists.
Going forward, Medearis plans to continue applying innovations seen in Helsinki and throughout Scandinavia—be it in transportation, energy efficiency, or building efficiency and design. “Helsinki has a 30-year head start on us; they got their act together after the first oil shock. The hope is we continue to apply these lessons.”