THANK YOU FINLAND ON YOUR HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY OF INDEPENDENCE AND EXEMPLARITY: Efficiency, equity, education, democracy, environment, accomplishment, modesty and fresh ideas . . . (You’d be singing too)

Part I: Flashmob in Helsinki

A flashmob choral intrusion that took place on one more winter day in the main train station of Helsinki, the capital of Finland. But what are they singling about?

(A flash mob (just to recall and in case you were out shopping at the time) is an unannounced event involving, by all appearance,s an unrelated group of people who suddenly emerge from the shadows and assemble in a public place, perform an unusual and unexplained act for a brief time, then quickly disperse and continue on their ways.  As you can just see here.)

Part II. A Finnish story

A bit of context in case you your Finnish history needs a reminder. Here you have a brief  introductory text (quickly translate, apologies) to an excellent  one hour documentary that has just appeared on Arte, the French/German public television. (Sadly not yet available in English, so you can test your French, German, Finnish and the striking images which tell a story of their own.)

Background notes: A century ago, December 6, 1917, Finland proclaimed its independence. Blending archives and testimonies, this enlightening documentary retraces the great events that have marked the history of this young European nation. Attached from the thirteenth century to the Kingdom of Sweden, then swallowed in the early nineteenth by Tsar Alexander I, Finland, the fifth largest territory of the European Union, manages to find its own way after the October Revolution, negotiating their sovereignty with Lenin.

Traumatized since  independence by a deadly civil war, then ravaged during the Second World War by the fighting between the armies of Stalin and those of Hitler,  Finland paid a terrible price during its first half-century of existence.

After WW2 Finland, finding its place in the concert of nations, was the host of the Olympic Games in 1952 before hosting, in 1975, the representatives of the thirty-five signatory states of the Helsinki Accords, which still govern their peaceful cooperation. Begun after the war, the development of his industry has brought the country , with its telecom champion Nokia, in the big leagues of globalization.

Subordination and tragedies

It was in the 16th century, with the first translation of the Bible into Finnish, that the foundation stone of the Finnish “national novel” was laid. Going back in time, Olivier Horn, the film’s director, recounts the centuries of foreign domination and tragedies that Finland traversed before and after their common conquest of independence. Historians, journalists, politicians – including former President of the Republic Tarja Halonen (2000-2012) , novelists (Roman Schatz, Kjell Westö, Sirpa Kähkönen), but also ordinary citizens shed light on the most important events in history of the still  young nation.

Drawing heavily on the archives, the documentary also recalls Finland’s persistent progressive aspirations. The first in Europe to establish women’s right to vote and to be elected to public office in 1906, Finland (5.5 million inhabitants) continues to make youth education the keystone of its success. Relieved by the end of the Cold War, then by the collapse of the USSR of which it was a privileged trading partner, Finland is continuing to make its own way.

Part III: You’d be singing too.

 * * * World Streets learns from Finland: https://worldstreets.wordpress.com/tag/finland/

 

Finland university graduate ceremony hats

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About the editor

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at https://goo.gl/9CJXTh and @ericbritton

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