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Future Forward – Travis Price

An indefatigable explorer of myth on a lifelong quest to engage the spirit of place, architect Travis Price likens landing in Helsinki, recently named the 2012 Design Capital of the World by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid), to “entering a vast strawberry field of embedded design.” Says Price, “I found myself floating between products and buildings and digital technology and food and full living culture where everything was simple but not simplistic.” In contrast to this Nordic simplicity, he discovered an almost Asian influence expressing itself in such disparate sources as the Byzantine Uspenski Orthodox Church or a swath of baroque Marimekko fabric. Finland lies in the merging of those two worlds; it’s the emerging crossroads of the world.”
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Future Forward – Nora Pouillon

In Helsinki, Nora Pouillon, chef, educator, and organic food advocate, discovered kindred spirits in hosts Aki Arjola, chairman of UniOne Oy, the company behind Eat&Joy, a series of events showcasing Finnish food, and chef and restaurateur Jyrki Sukula, advocate for the organic food in the school lunch program. “They are working to rebuild the culinary culture of Finland,” says Pouillon. “Their broad strategy is to introduce organic local food and produce to the general public to foster connections and new access to the Finnish food legacy. People in Finland go to the supermarkets and buy things that come from Sweden, Denmark, Germany, wherever, and they forget their own culture. Through a farmers’ market, a store featuring local producers, and the school lunch program, Aki and Jyrki aim to bring Finnish food and culture back into the life of the Finnish people.” (more…)

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Future Forward – Dr. Marta Palacios

Dr. Marta Palacios, principal of Washington, DC’s Bruce-Monroe Elementary School, talks about her recent immersion in Helsinki education as a journey into the three Ps– play, pedagogy and professionalism. “In Finland there is no rigorous model of teaching and observation, but in terms of moving ahead with instruction and the way teachers work together, I now find myself referencing Helsinki, saying, this is the way it’s done in Finland.”

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Future Forward – Ayodamola Okunseinde

Ayo Okunseinde thought of himself and the output of his considerable talents in a compartmentalized way: artist, design studio head, entrepreneur focused on cultural exchange and communication. Then came Helsinki, with its integral approach to art and culture. “From the top down, from cultural institutions, to businesses, to the way people talk about art and culture, I experienced art and culture as relevant and essential to all aspects of life,” says Okunseinde. “And I saw what that approach looked like manifested in such places as the Cable Factory and Aalto University. Here was the connective tissue, the model for all my projects and ideas.” (more…)

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Future Forward – Dale Medearis

Dale Medearis, an environmental Planner with the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, returned from Finland confirmed in his convictions about Helsinki’s preeminence in energy and climate policies at the regional and local level. “Like many Scandinavian cities and Northern European countries and other pioneers like Germany, Denmark, and Sweden,” says Medearis, “the Finns have embraced energy efficiency, they’ve embraced heat and recapture, renewables, building labels, building design and multi-modal transportation systems including streetcars, an integrated tram system, rail, buses, biking, and this is exactly what we need to do. The results speak for themselves. Helsinki I think is six tons a person. While we as a region– Washington, Virginia, and the Maryland suburbs—is at 20 tons a person in emissions. The results speak for themselves.” (more…)

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Future Forward – Scott Goodstein

Since his travels to Helsinki, Scott Goodstein has been on the move about the globe, with stops, for example, in Australia and Brazil. Working on his business focused on social networking, text messaging, and lifestyle marketing for non-profits and political campaigns, he is constantly attending and lecturing at industry conferences after his two-year stint with the Obama presidential campaign. He notes the majority of these events attended lack the incredible level of organization he experienced on his Helsinki trip. “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.” (more…)

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Future Forward – Eric Gilliland

Bicycle activist and Washington area Bicycle Association (WABA) Executive Director Eric Gilliland calls his pairing with Petri Sipilä of HePo, Helsinki’s bicycle advocacy group, a perfect match. Insights began on the airport ride into Helsinki, seeing firsthand the comprehensive network of separate cyclist and pedestrian side paths. Gilliland found fascinating Finland’s lack of a nonprofit 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.” (more…)

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Future Forward – Patrick Dowd

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.” (more…)

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Future Forward – Peter Corbett

To his surprise, Peter Corbett discovered in Helsinki a very Finnish-focused technology innovation community. Meeting with more than 50 technology community members, from people running start -ups, to people at Forum Virium, he encountered intelligent and creative engineers, but missing was the global vision for technology innovation he expected that so defines the U.S. startup community. “The Finnish startups I met all said they wanted everyone in Finland to use their service. I got to thinking, that’s kind of odd; there are five million people in Finland. When someone builds a technology company in the U.S., they say I want the entire world to use my service. I thought the homogeneity of the population in Finland was both a good thing and a bad thing for the country. I could see them benefiting from a broader perspective to help them break out of that mentality and bubble of thinking of Finland only.” (more…)

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Future Forward – Mark Buscaino

Mark Buscaino describes his Helsinki trip as a portal that opened his eyes to urban forestry in other places. “Here’s a country where they have been planting over decades, over centuries to maintain the wooded environment in their cities,” says Buscaino. “I was amazed at the lengths they go to make sure tree plantings are successful, right down to assuring adequate space for rooting volume.” (more…)

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Future Forward

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.

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