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My New Year’s Resolution…

October 1, 2018

… and women in sport, again.

Late last year and earlier this year I ranted about how poorly Finnish women are covered in the sports media. I made a New Year’s resolution to go and see Finland’s elite women in action – and I did – until the summer came and then I was in Canada for a month… Now that most winter and indoor sports are on the go again, I can continue to fulfill this resolution, but I have June, July and August to make up for! September’s order was filled by watching the best ringette players in the country in early September and again just this past weekend.

Now that the Little Miss is back in action at the rink, it is time to remind all of these girls taking part in sport to find themselves a female hero to look up to. In Finland there is no shortage of them, we just need to make them more visible!

A couple weeks ago Hayley Wickenheiser was immortalized in Lego format in our household. We still have to find the hockey stick though. I am really glad that the Little Miss recognizes this – the need to have someone to look up to…

The head coach of her ringette team plays at the national level, and she is definitely a role model for all of the girls who play ringette in Espoo. Ira Merivaara is small, but mighty – and proof that you do not need to be big to be good at a sport where height can be an advantage. (Below is the post game pic from the EKS home opener against Tuusula last weekend. EKS won handily 8-2.)

The discussion about women in sport in this country is still centring on poor coverage and low attendance at women’s sporting events. I have seen it on social media channels. Just GO and watch a game!

An example: you can get a great value for your money by getting a season pass to see the Espoo Blues Naiset hockey team in action for just EUR 50. I promise you will be seeing the best of the best in this country and it’s all driving forward to meet one goal. The next big thing on the women’s sport calendar in this country (and please correct me if I am wrong) are the Women’s World Hockey Championships to be held in Espoo in April 2019.

As for media, I have challenged the publisher of ELMO-lehti to put Riikka Välilä (or any of the current members of the Finnish women’s national hockey team) on the cover, but I am still waiting.

On the coaching front

The head coach of the Finnish Women’s Rugby Sevens got a hold of me earlier this year and we were supposed to meet and discuss the team, but it didn’t materialize. Coach Bam, if you’re reading this – we still need to talk!

The next bit I need to tell you about is a big Throwback Thursday moment from earlier this year, also involving women in sport. I might not necessarily put it out on a Thursday though.

Watch this space.

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10 000 Butts Finland: Epilogue

September 20, 2018

So it has been nearly three weeks since I ended my 10 000 Butts challenge. It seems like such a long time ago already.

In the end I collected 11 290 butts (give or take a few) and plenty of garbage too. I saved them all in a big bucket (except some that I pitched in the garbage once I hit 10 000) and some guys from the City of Espoo came to pick them up a few days later. (*Thanks to the City of Espoo for being so supportive!)

 

I really did think it would be possible to find 10 000 butts in my own neighbourhood, but that proved to be impossible. So in the end, I ventured further afield than I normally would to look for butts to pick up. Save for a few times when the Mr. or my mini-me was along with me walking the dog, I only did this when I walked my dog. Any bigger ventures and clean-ups would have to be done without him in tow.

I also want to add here that I really left out some big elephants in the room during my challenge. Where can we find large concentrations of discarded butts? Among them: parking lots, bus stops, traffic lights and in front of buildings where people congregate to smoke.

I never walked to the front side of the Omnia campus in Muurala, where thousands of cigarette butts can be found on the grounds. At the Omnia campus near Espoon Keskus, there were also plenty of butts to be found. I intend to address this and ask why they do not provide receptacles for staff and students to dump their butts into. There are also some very busy bus stops with cigarette butts littered all over the place. It would be nice to see more receptacles put in place for collecting them, but this is something that people have to ask for. I pitched one idea to an environmental designer who works for the City of Espoo, but I have to follow-up on that.

I kept people up to date on the 10 000 Butts Finland page that I set up on Facebook. I was really happy for the support people provided and was heartened to see that there are lots of other people around Finland trying to make a difference. Thanks so much for your support!

The day I found butt number 10 000.

I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to engage any smokers while this challenge was on the go. A call out to friends on my social media networks garnered nothing. Are they afraid to admit they might be one of these butt tossers? Well, as I mentioned before – this challenge was not about vilifying smokers, but the litter they leave behind. It’s very easy for all of us to just put garbage where it belongs, in the garbage – not in the environment.

Like I said before, the work doesn’t end here. I will keep on picking up butts, hoping that I can organize something a little bigger when it fits my calendar.

Oh ya, I even found a perfectly good tie… :O

10 000 Butts Finland: the challenge

August 21, 2018

So in my previous blog entry I told you about a challenge I gave myself to try and prove that cigarette waste is a problem. This month I am attempting to pick up 10 000 discarded cigarette butts in my neighbourhood. Up to this point in time I thought it would be easy to find 10 000 – it hasn’t been! I have cleaned up so many of them that 5 000 would have been a more realistic figure for my own neighbourhood. I have had to expand my range a little and take my dog to places I don’t usually take him. Well, I guess that’s okay, because it means less butts in the environment. I am documenting my challenge on Facebook, take a look if you have an account.

Not long after I got started I was contacted by Svenka YLE, the Swedish language arm of the national broadcaster YLE. I was interviewed by Charlotte Lindberg and a piece went up on the net a day later. The Finnish language arm got a hold of that story and up to this point (as I publish this) it has been shared more than 5 200 times on Facebook. I was also contacted by MTV, the big commercial broadcaster in Finland and they also published a great article. I’d like to thank these media outlets for taking the time to find out more about my motivations and challenge.

So far it looks like this (this is from a few days ago):

The 10 000 butt challenge will end on August 31, but it doesn’t mean then end of my efforts to highlight cigarette waste and pollution of the environment. My message is this: we can all do better, one way is not to litter in the first place. With the media highlighting the messy consequences of plastics in our environment, I am just hoping to help people think that they too can make a difference. There are plenty of people out there across this great country doing good things every day to clean up the environment.

I have my detractors. Someone has called my 10 000 butt challenge a stunt. Well sure, it is, but if it motivates people to think about the issue and pick up a few butts, then I have done something right. Don’t get me wrong, 10 000 is a lot – and I still have 10 days left to get to 10 000! Already people have said they will pick up butts when they walk their dogs or that 1 000 is a much more attainable goal. It sure is, but it’s a great start!

Better yet, the Roska Päivässä liike has a great motto: One a day. Pick up one piece of litter a day, and that’s an even better start.

Watch this space.

What’s happening eh?

August 8, 2018

Hello!

Well July was a write-off as far as blog posts go.

Why?

I was in Canada and got to see some new places. I’ll talk about that in an upcoming entry, because again, I have noticed life differences compared to here in Finland. And after nearly 20 years here, they are still worth noting. Here’s a teaser of some of the places we visited.

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What’s going on now?

I was brainstorming back in June wondering how could I do something that would catch people’s attention? On August 1, I started my challenge for the month of August —> pick up 10 000 cigarette butts (and plenty of other garbage) in my neighbourhood. That’s right 10 000. The City of Espoo kindly gave me some bags and I got some used buckets from a friend to collect them in. I am currently documenting my challenge on the Facebook page called 10,000 Butts Finland. You’re welcome to follow it.

Many of you know I have a Twitter account for my blog (@ LiveInFinland). The other day I pinged the local newspaper in Espoo about my challenge – and they put up a story about it. I am feeling pretty energized now – and Länsiväylä has thrown down the gauntlet. 10 000 – can I do it? 🙂

There are about 1500 butts here (from last week)

Watch this space!

What happened to…?

My New Year’s resolution: I promised to go and watch Finland’s elite sports women in action once a month, but this has fizzled out a bit. I consider my last stint on the elite sport’s front my participation in the first-ever Women’s World Para Ice Hockey Championships in Ostrava (CZE) back in May, Since then I haven’t had the chance to fulfill my resolution. I will get back on that – and soon. I will also write about my experience in Ostrava, because that is also worth sharing.

Until then (and it won’t be long), I hope you all have had a good summer and been able to keep cool in all this heat. As we all know, the weather has been making headlines this summer, but that is another story.

Happy Midsummer!

June 21, 2018

Dear followers of Life in Finland, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy and safe Midsummer.

Tomorrow is a holiday in Finland, so there are changes to store opening hours and services.

Stay safe, don’t drink and drive (or boat) and arrive alive.

Stay warm too, I heard the weather isn’t going to be that great either…

Hyvää Juhannusta!

The demise of the wall calendar

June 14, 2018

How many of you still hang a calendar on your wall at home or office? A good deal of us plod through life with our calendars on our phones or <gasp> use an agenda to keep things straight.

I definitely use a paper agenda because there is so much going on that as long as it is all written down in one spot, I am good to go – and so is the rest of the family.

I love wall calendars, but don’t really have a place to hang them anymore. 😦

Finland needs to change the timing of the school year

May 23, 2018

School will end soon and the long summer holiday will begin.

Kids in Finland currently attend school between August and May. I say the school year should be from the beginning of September until Midsummer.

Why change? The motivation (on my part) is purely weather-related. The beginning of June can be quite unpredictable as far as the weather goes – and even be quite cold. August, however, is a different story – that is when we experience the best of the summer weather. It is completely unfair to be sending kids to school when it is +30C and nice outside.

I’m not joking.

Helsingin Sanomat interviewed one school principal in Kauniainen in early February, who agreed that the school year should be shifted by two weeks.

There was even a petition for it. Unfortunately it closed recently and did not garner near enough signatures to be examined by the government. It has even been suggested that by starting later, the health of kids, parents and families could be affected positively as they would have the chance to enjoy more time outdoors before the school year begins, hence reducing the need for families to escape “somewhere warm” when it is dark, raining and downright nasty in November and December.

Changing the school year could probably boost the productivity of the Finnish workforce. As it is now May, people are already thinking of the end of school and Midsummer, and it turns everyone off from starting important work before the summer holidays start. On top of that, Finland practically shuts down in July while the rest of Europe is at work. Then when the rest of Europe is on holidays in August, the Finnish workforce languishes in wait for everyone to get back to work. Then the real work can begin – and the kids have already been in school for several weeks by that time.

The best berry and mushroom picking time is at the end of August, so why not allow families to be on holidays at that time of the year in order to take advantage of the best picking conditions…?

To change the school year schedule means that Parliament has to act on it, but given how they have been sitting on their hands lately with other issues, a change to the timing of the school year is unlikely to ever happen.