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Any Partanen at the CSI

Sep 19, 2016

Anu Partanen presented her book The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life today on September 19th at the Centre for Social Innovation. People gathered together to hear her thoughts that inspired her to write the book. Afterwards there was a lively discussion on the differences and similarities of everyday life in the US and in the Nordic region.

Partanen is a journalist originally from Finland, now based in New York City. She has lived in the United States since 2008, and her work has appeared in the New York Times and The Atlantic. She also worked at Fortune Magazine as a visiting reporter through the Innovation Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University. In Finland she has held many positions ranging from managing editor to columnist, features writer to news reporter, lecturer to on-air commentator.

More at The book can be ordered for $19 here:



Christmas Glögi at Estonian House

On December 16, a number of Finns and friends of Finland gathered at the cozy bar Estonian house to enjoy some casual conversation and a glass or two of glögi. Johanna and Chris Telander (guitar) entertained us with Christmas music as well as Johanna’s own compositions for voice and piano. The audience, which kept growing as the evening wore on, joined in singing their favorite Christmas songs from books provided by Johanna who knew all the songs! Johanna was also accompanied on piano by Sean Ferguson and his wife, as well as Johanna’s brother Mikael Haavisto, an actor based in Turku, joined in duets with Johanna. This all made for a fun and varied musical evening and put us all in the Christmas mood. We are lucky to have such talent in our midst!



Healthy Fun in Prospect Park!

Jun 20, 2016

Thank you to everyone who participated in or sponsored our 5th annual Midsummer 5K Run and Nordic Pole Walkathon - it was a huge success once again! We had a great turnout and participation, with plenty of runners and a good number of Nordic Pole walkers arriving for a beautiful day at Prospect Park. It was our first year inviting Nordic Pole Walkers and we couldn’t have done that without our partners at HYVÄ Nordic Walking. They provided our walkers with complimentary Nordic Poles as well as a thorough introductory lesson before the race!

Our two first-place winners, Zachary Howenstine and Jessica McEntee, came in at blazing speeds (20:18 and 22:30 respectively) and got their equally impressive first-place $100 Amazon gift cards prizes. All the runners were greeted at the finish line with plenty of water, courtesy of Nestle; yummy Finlandia cheese sandwiches, Finnish chocolates via Sockerbit, who also donated gift certificates to their store which we raffled. Thank you to Raiff for the gift certificate given to our biggest fundraiser, Helena Grönberg! We could not have done it without the dedication of Thomas Riggs, our race coordinator; the Finland Center, Kota, and NFCC interns; and  Suomi-seura (The Finland Society, Finland), Valmarin, and all of our other generous sponsors.

75% of the proceeds from our race will be going to support The Kota Alliance and its member organizations in their pursuit of gender equality and women’s empowerment, currently with us at the Centre for Social Innovation’s Women’s Lab, and through a future world center for women in NYC.



The Story of the Finnish War Children

Mar 7, 2016

By Jaana Rehnstrom

“To the Bomb and Back”

The title of the book, which was recently published by Berghahn Books, refers to a game children played during WWII in Finland – after a bomb caused a crater, the children would run to it and back and see who was the fastest. Because of the threat of being killed or because of extreme poverty, some 80 000 children were sent to foster families in Sweden, where they stayed for many years. In the end, some 15 000 were adopted by Swedish families but the rest returned home. It was not until decades later that these war children began to tell their stories and to form associations to share them.

Sue Saffle stumbled across this topic while living in Finland in 2001. Since then, while teaching English at Virginia Tech, she has retold many of these stories in English for the first time. At Scandinavia House on March 7, an audience invited by both Finland Center and Scandinavia House, we heard many touching quotes (as Ms. Saffle was sidelined by laryngitis, they were relayed by her husband Michael). The audience also had many questions afterwards, and perhaps the truth is, as one audience member put it: in that situation, there were no good solutions. Everyone did their best: the parents wanted to save their children from the dangers of war or death from illness and starvation, but suffered from the separation just as their children did. The vast majority of families in Sweden welcomed the children and treated them as their own; although some children faced abuse. The return was also traumatic for many reasons.

One audience member asked who she wanted to read her book, in order to learn some lessons – and Ms. Saffle’s answer was brief and to the point: those who make war. We should not let children ever be subjected to such heart-wrenching situations. Tell that to those who send children and families fleeing war today.

Thank you to Scandinavia House for hosting, and Suomi-seura (Finland Society, Finland) for financial support!