Saturday 11 August 2018

Finnish-Montanan Work-Life Balance

A Speech given at the InnovateUM Summer Garden Party
Aug 8, 2018 Missoula, MT
Jenni Rohrbach

Good evening, a warm welcome to you ladies and gentlemen; innovators, collaborators, artists, believers, friends. I’m honored to get this party started by reminding us of why we have gathered together. A sincere thanks goes to the InnovateUM Team who planted “ the seed” already quite some years ago and ever since have persistently preserved and invested in our relationships that have an immense value in the collective impact work. And as it comes to utilizing and embracing our relationships and collaborations, it sure helps to combine work with some leisure and relaxation and this is what the InnovateUM Team does magically well. Work can be fun! And this goes well hand in hand with a precious thing called Work-Life Balance that directly translates into success and happiness.

It’s clear that especially in the summer, life in Missoula simply slows down. It slows down to basic enjoyments such as casting a fish, jumping into the lake, sitting around a campfire with family and friends, and visiting the farmer’s market.  It truly goes like that… you really try to catch that fish, might dive into the river, but with support from friends and family you warm up in the sun and life is good again and maybe later that night you hit the local brewery, bar or market to get some real comfort food, instead of fresh trout some fried fish…It’s these very mundane but endearing moments that make the  “Nordic-Montanan” or Finnish-Missoulian way of balanced life, the appreciation for nature to human connections that we cannot work or live without. So to everyone here, thank you for making it! …from our favourite happy place somewhere to another happy place here at the Stockman Bank Roof Top! Tonight is yours and ours, to mingle to catch up. And keep in mind the work-life balance when you approach the wet bar for some drinks! Let’s enjoy each other’s company and have fun, Thank you.

Friday 11 May 2018

FFM Newletter May 2018

Hei, terve, moi, hej

and hello, dear subscriber,

from the FFM!


It's been quite the (blue and white) year!

Although the Finlandia Foundation of Montana (FFM) was established less than a year ago, we have already seen success as a young organization. It has been very rewarding for us getting to know some of the Scandinavian and Finnish people here in Missoula, as well as all of the Americans in town who have some connection to Finland or Scandinavia. There are so many of you! Now that the Nordic countries are not only trendier than ever, but also some of the most revered in the world, we know there is certainly demand and space for an organization like the FFM in Missoula. We are committed to bringing you Nordic culture, innovation, and ideas for building better, more culturally diverse communities. Much of our 2017 went in observance of the Finnish Centennial, beginning with the Traveling Sauna, and ending with an amazing dinner with our friends at Burns Street Bistro. These celebrations are behind us, we look forward to new and exciting events in the upcoming year. Some highlights of the past year include:
  • Hosting the incredible Traveling Sauna here in Missoula
  • Representing the FFM and Nordic countries at the International Fair at the University of Montana
  • Celebrating May Day in the park
  • A Danish fiddle concert in collaboration with our friends Kristian Bugge, Martin Høirup, and Jaime Fox
  • Meeting up with Maria Annala, a Finnish journalist, to talk about our Baby Box initiative (Read the article in Finnish here)
  • Nordic Brunch with our friends at Burns Street Bistro
  • Hosting an event for the Nordic exchange students in Missoula
  • Celebrating the Finnish Independence Centennial with Nordic fare made by the inimitable folks at Burns Street Bistro
And finally, we rounded out the year by celebrating Finnish Independence Day outside of the Missoula Art Museum, at the Art Park, with a full Finnish flag, warm mulled wine, and lots of Finnish tunes. What a fantastic 2017! Here are some photos from our year, from the above-mentioned events:

We have more planned for 2018
There is so much more in store for 2018. We have been busy planning events we are very excited to present to our Missoula community. We had a pleasure to be part of the InnovateUM event this spring by hosting a working luncheon with Finnish food and decor, as three visiting scholars from Aalto University and the City of Espoo shared their expertize and experience during the 3-day workshops and conferences. And an important date to remember: On June 21 we'll celebrate Midsummer. More details are soon to follow!

We always accept new members
Have you been thinking about starting a Nordic-themed book club in Missoula? Do you feel a burning desire to learn more Swedish and Danish? If you are passionate about anything Nordic, please consider joining the FFM Board. Our board meetings are fun, short, and informative. We welcome new suggestions and ideas anytime, so feel free to join in and give your two cents! Contact us via e-mail here.
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Thursday 26 April 2018

Bringing Finnish Culture and Expertise to Missoula's Innovation Ecosystem

A Speech by Jenni Rohrbach, at the InnovateUM working luncheon April 25, 2018

Good afternoon, hyvää iltapäivää, ladies and gentlemen, naiset ja herrat.

On behalf of the Finlandia Foundation of Montana, I am delighted to welcome you to the InnovateUM working luncheon that has some Nordic, especially Finnish touches. We, as a Finnish and Scandinavian-American cultural heritage organization, couldn’t be more excited to support the Collective Impact Work in our community. We feel that emphasizing values and practices of shared responsibility and collective care is something that is deeply rooted in the Nordic culture. It is the like-minded Nordic philosophies and Nordic models for co-creation that give a good understanding of what it means to have cohesive and open communities and how significant cross-sector collaboration is in change-making for maximizing the potential for equal opportunity.

With this cultural and collective connection in mind, we are honoured to have the opportunity to bring Finnish culture to this event. This is represented in both the decor and food we will be sharing.  To point out, the vases and candleholders here that have a red letter “I” on them stands for Iittala, a glass company that has long preserved the works of Finnish design heroes, Kaj Franck and Alvar Aalto. Some of the fabrics that might have got your attention are productions of Marimekko that is known for its bright, coloured prints and simple styles. Marimekko was brought to America in the 1960s and made famous by Jacqueline Kennedy, who wore several Marimekko dresses during the United States presidential campaign at that time.

And I’d also like to point out the colourful feathered pussycat willows at display here that are related to the Finnish Easter tradition. In Finland, the children dress up as Easter witches or bunnies and go from door to door to hand out their springy willow in the hopes of receiving chocolate eggs in return.

 Our family-style lunch and Finnish cuisine tell a story of a people who went from forest livelihoods to active interaction with neighbouring countries. On the menu, we have bread, butter, fish and potatoes! That pretty much summarizes the most important ingredients of Nordic dishes. But precisely, Rosolli, is a Finnish beet-based vegetable salad traditionally enjoyed on Christmas. Some arctic berries we get to taste are lingonberries and cranberries. Food innovators like to call these treasures as superfoods due to their strong flavour and high nutrient content. And the beauty is that everyone can access these nature’s local superfoods in Finland. This traditional legal concept of “everyman’s right” allows anyone to pick berries and mushrooms as long as no harm is done to nature or landowners.

To end, a staple of the Finnish diet is rye bread, ruisleipä, that is made from sour dough, it’s dark and fiber rich and often eaten during daily coffee breaks. And you can imagine how much “open-faced” rye bread is eaten due to the fact that Finland has the highest coffee consumption per capita in the world. But to say the least, we hope you’ll enjoy the meal and wish you hyvää ruokahalua, Bon Appetite! Thank you.

Tuesday 17 April 2018

Innovative Collective Impact Work and Culture in Missoula

Community and culture intertwined are fundamental and vivid in the collective impact work bringing connections and meanings into our everyday interactions and purpose. Culture is inseparable from the development and actually in the forefront of innovation and design-thinking to inspire action in social change. Whether we need to be sensitive to cultural differences, adapt to current cultural trends, or raise our voice in support of acceptance and equal opportunity. Or whether we are getting to know the organizational culture of our working environment or simply enjoying the culinary culture from aboard to spice up a working luncheon. In whatever forms, culture is with us, in “the social and the collective”, an essence of togetherness and a major player in change making.

I’d like to say a few words about the special kind of culture in Missoula. And this observation is coming from the perspective of a Nordic Foreign Alien who left her home country Finland around the time when Finland was ranked as the best country to live in 2010. And just recently Finland was again placed first according to the World Happiness Index Report. But bring any Finn or a few Finnish experts to Missoula and they’d say the same thing: Life is gooood in Missoula with a lot of social capital and collective care that makes it almost effortless to work towards achieving shared goals.

I believe Collective Impact, Innovation and Design Thinking are not to be re-discovered or re-created amongst us, because these elements have always existed in our talented and giving community and are here to evolve. So let’s keep our focus on the good work in both preserving the old and implementing the new for the future years to come.