Posts Tagged ‘Finland’

Looking for examples of true leadership in a crisis? From Iceland to Taiwan and from Germany to New Zealand, women are stepping up to show the world how to manage a messy patch for our human family. Add in Finland, Iceland and Denmark, and this pandemic is revealing that women have what it takes when the heat rises in our Houses of State. Many will say these are small countries, or islands, or other exceptions. But Germany is large and leading, and the UK is an island with very different outcomes. These leaders are gifting us an attractive alternative way of wielding power. What are they teaching us?

Truth

Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, stood up early and calmly told her countrymen that this was a serious bug that would infect up to 70% of the population. “It’s serious,” she said, “take it seriously.” She did, so they did too. Testing began right from the get go. Germany jumped right over the phases of denial, anger and disingenuousness we’ve seen elsewhere. The country’s numbers are far below its European neighbours, and there are signs they may be able to start loosening restrictions relatively soon.

Decisiveness

Among the first and the fastest moves was Tsai Ing-wen’s in Taiwan. Back in January, at the first sign of a new illness, she introduced 124 measures to block the spread, without having to resort to the lockdowns that have become common elsewhere. She is now sending 10 million face masks to the US and Europe. Ing-wen managed what CNN has called “among the world’s best” responses, keeping the epidemic under control, still reporting only six deaths.

Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand was early to lockdown and crystal clear on the maximum level of alert she was putting the country under – and why. She imposed self-isolation on people entering New Zealand astonishingly early, when there were just 6 cases in the whole country, and banned foreigners entirely from entering soon after. Clarity and decisiveness are saving New Zealand from the storm. As of mid-April they have suffered only four deaths, and where other countries talk of lifting restrictions, Ardern is adding to them, making all returning New Zealanders quarantine in designated locations for 14 days.

Tech

Iceland, under the leadership of Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, is offering free coronavirus testing to all its citizens, and will become a key case study in the true spread and fatality rates of Covid-19. Most countries have limited testing to people with active symptoms. Iceland is going whole hog. In proportion to its population the country has already screened five times as many people as South Korea has, and instituted a thorough tracking system that means they haven’t had to lockdown… or shut schools.

Sanna Marin became the world’s youngest head of state when she was elected last December in Finland. It took a millennial leader to spearhead using social media influencers as key agents in battling the coronavirus crisis. Recognising that not everyone reads the press, they are inviting influencers of any age to spread fact-based information on managing the pandemic.

Love

Norway’s Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, had the innovative idea of using television to talk directly to her country’s children. She was building on the short, 3-minute press conference that Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen had held a couple of days earlier. Solberg held a dedicated press conference where no adults were allowed. She responded to kids’ questions from across the country, taking time to explain why it was OK to feel scared. The originality and obviousness of the idea takes one’s breath away. How many other simple, humane innovations would more female leadership unleash?

Generally, the empathy and care which all of these female leaders have communicated seems to come from an alternate universe than the one we have gotten used to. It’s like their arms are coming out of their videos to hold you close in a heart-felt and loving embrace. Who knew leaders could sound like this? Now we do.

Now, compare these leaders and stories with the strongmen using the crisis to accelerate a terrifying trifecta of authoritarianism: blame-“others”, capture-the-judiciary, demonize-the-journalists, and blanket their country in I-will-never-retire darkness (Trump, Bolsonaro, Obrador, Modi, Duterte, Orban, Putin, Netanyahu…).

There have been years of research timidly suggesting that women’s leadership styles might be different and beneficial. Instead, too many political organisations and companies are still working to get women to behave more like men if they want to lead or succeed. Yet these national leaders are case study sightings of the seven leadership traits men may want to learn from women.

It’s time we recognised it – and elected more of it.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/avivahwittenbergcox/2020/04/13/what-do-countries-with-the-best-coronavirus-reponses-have-in-common-women-leaders/#456c3af43dec

By Nicoletta Lanese

Smooth balls of ice rolled ashore on a beach in Finland and piled up like a gigantic clutch of turtles’ eggs.

But where did these “ice eggs” come from? Turns out, the frigid orbs were sculpted by a peculiar combination of weather and waves, according to news reports.

Amateur photographer Risto Mattila stumbled upon the strange sight while walking with his wife on Hailuoto Island, a land mass between Finland and Sweden, according to BBC News. The temperature hovered around 32 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 1 degree Celsius) that day, he said, and the wind whipped across the beach. “There, we found this amazing phenomenon. There was snow and ice eggs along the beach near the water line,” he told the BBC.

The “ice eggs” littered an area the length of about one-quarter of a football field and ranged in size from that of an average chicken egg to that of a hefty soccer ball, Mattila said. He snapped a photo, noting that he had “never seen anything like this during 25 years living in the vicinity.”

Others came upon the ice eggs, too. “This was [an] amazing phenomenon, [I’ve] never seen before. The whole beach was full of these ice balls,” Tarja Terentjeff, who lives in the nearby town of Oulu, told CNN. Another local, Sirpa Tero, told CNN she’d seen icy orbs line the shoreline before, “but not over such a large area.”

Although fairly rare, these ice eggs form similarly to sea glass or rounded stones that wash up on the beach, said BBC Weather expert George Goodfellow. Chunks of ice break off from larger ice sheets in the sea and either taxi to shore on the incoming tide or get pushed in by gusts of wind at the water’s surface, he explained. Waves buffet the ice chunks as they travel, slowly eroding their jagged edges into smooth curves. Seawater sticks and freezes to the forming eggs, causing them to grow like snowballs do as they roll across the ground.

Once the ice chunks reach shore, pounding waves tend to buff out any lingering kinks on their surfaces, leaving behind nothing but sleek and shiny “eggs” for curious tourists to happen upon.

https://www.livescience.com/ice-eggs-in-finland-beach.html?utm_source=Selligent&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=9881&utm_content=20191108_LS_Essentials_Newsletter+-+adhoc+&utm_term=3675605&m_i=KLvdVq2D1jG_1ZlsN2BtGnhxz5lDWnoT1z5TH7nDwaq0voJwXv3R_F4qtiVoYAKPhitMFL_skBWImJ%2By0oVarC4t%2Bc9VnaCZKB

by Noel Kirkpatrick

Europe is struggling with homelessness. According to the 2018 report from the European Federation of National Organizations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA), the EU is facing a homelessness crisis.

“This past year has resolutely confirmed the existence of another Europe: a Europe not merely ignored but also misunderstood, not just despised but also forgotten — a Europe of the homeless. The homeless population has increased steadily in almost all EU countries.”

One of the exceptions is Finland. The country’s dedication to helping the homeless on a national scale has resulted in the homeless population dropping from a high of 18,000 in 30 years ago to 7,000 today, with 5,000 of those in some sort of temporary lodging situation with friends or relatives.

The Nordic country has managed to do this by putting housing first. In fact, that’s the name of Finland’s program on homelessness — a policy approach it borrowed from the United States.

Housing First in the U.S.

The Housing First approach “prioritizes providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness, thus ending their homelessness and serving as a platform from which they can pursue personal goals and improve their quality of life,” according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness fact sheet. This approach inverts the staircase model in which a homeless person complete certain steps, like obtaining a job or going through a drug rehabilitation program, before they’re provided with housing or housing assistance.

The staircase model positions housing as the goal while Housing First treats it as the starting line. From there, the sponsoring organization or government in charge of the housing will then supply various health and social services along with case management to the residents.

Housing First has been used in the U.S. in some form since the 1980s, but it has never been implemented on a national scale — and there lies the difference.

There has been some criticism of the Housing First approach in the U.S., most notably that Housing First tends to be used in a cookie cutter fashion instead of being customized to each area’s homeless. Another criticism is that Housing First policies don’t do enough to provide the necessary support after people have entered a residence, that there isn’t enough follow-through for a Housing Second or Housing Third step.

And that’s where Finland is taking the policy name and making it its own.

Ending homelessness, not managing it

Finland has worked to reduce homelessness in earnest since 1987, reports the Christian Science Monitor. The Finnish national government, along various cities, directed resources to help the homeless. While those efforts resulted in a decline in homelessness overall, long-term homelessness was not affected. In 2008, the Finnish government launched PAAVO I, a three-year plan developed using Housing First as its organizing principle with the goal of eliminating homelessness by 2015. Along with the national government, nine cities and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) committed to the program.

“Basically, we decided that we wanted to end homelessness, rather than manage it,” Juha Kaakinen, CEO of the Y-Foundation, an NGO that helps to provide 16,500 low-cost apartments for the homeless, told the Christian Science Monitor. (You can listen to Kaakinen talk about the group’s philosophy and the impact of that approach in the great TEDx video below. One tidbit that sums it up: The name “Y” comes from the Finnish word “yksinainen,” which means “lonely” or “single.”)

Constructing that housing was the first step in implementing the Finnish plans. PAAVO I involved the construction of 1,250 new dwellings. By the end of the PAAVO I period in 2011, 1,519 units were up and running. In addition to the housing, the units needed to supply 24/7 on-site care for residents who required it.

One example, reported by the Christian Science Monitor, is Rukkila, a housing unit just outside of Helsinki that’s home to 20 people. Each resident has a modern apartment, and there’s a communal cooking and recreational area. Apart from rules governing overnight guests — residents need permissions first — residents are allowed to do whatever they want. Substance abuse rehabilitation is encouraged but not mandatory.

One resident is Fernando. He’s lived at Rukkila for three years now.

“I am dealing with my problems here,” he told the Christian Science Monitor. “In the meantime, it’s nice to know that whatever happens I have a roof over my head no matter what.”

This sort of mentality is what the Housing First approach in Finland encourages: wraparound services that aid the residents. Another housing unit, Väinölä, operated by the Salvation Army with support from the Y-Foundation, has over 10 people on staff to help residents with therapy or professional development. Residents are encouraged to help maintain the building through cleaning and gardening, and the building hosts open houses so members of the community can understand the goals of Väinölä and so the residents can be better integrated with the surrounding community.

“For a long time we dealt with homelessness in the traditional way,” Sanna Vesikansa, the deputy mayor of Helsinki told the Christian Science Monitor. “But it’s difficult for people to work on their problems if always in the morning they have to go out in the streets and then come back at night.”

The cost and the will

The 3,500 units constructed between 2008 and 2015 under PAAVO I and PAAVO II initiatives came in at just under $328 million, but supporters say the program has paid for itself.

Vesikansa cited a 2011 study that showed Finland saved $18,500 per homeless person who received a supported rental unit thanks to a reduction in the emergency and medical services no longer needed to assist them. She maintains the savings are probably higher now than they were in 2018.

“That doesn’t cover the contribution to the economy [from] residents who moved on from supported housing and got jobs,” she added.

For Kaakinen, whether or not the policies pay for themselves was of secondary concern.

“Of course the fact that the program pays for itself is important,” Kaakinen told the Christian Science Monitor, “but beyond that, from a moral point of view, as a society which cares for all of its citizens, we didn’t think we see an alternative. This, we felt, was the way to go forward. And we did.”

The Finnish government made a concentrated and dedicated effort to end homelessness in the country. As a FEANTSA study about Housing First policies reported, “In Finland, Housing First principles were implemented widely due to a strong political will to put an end to homelessness. All levels of government, regardless of political affiliation, have actively supported this process.”

Finland’s success is spurring on other countries, particularly the U.K., to adopt Housing First approaches modeled by the Nordic nation. The U.K. government will launch pilot projects in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and West Midlands beginning in 2019, reports the BBC. The plan is to provide 1,000 homes.

“If other countries are inspired by our example, that’s all for the better,” Kaakinen said. “There is no quick fix to all situations however, we found. A solid base can provide the foundation upon which to improve the lot of the homeless, and ultimately resolve this issue.

https://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/responsible-living/stories/finland-housing-first-solving-homeless-crisis?utm_source=Weekly+Newsletter&utm_campaign=872c994f83-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_WED0206_2019&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fcbff2e256-872c994f83-40844241