A blender of human activity

In workshops during the autumn, participants have given thought to what differentiates Helsinki from other cities.

Around a hundred residents – from various professional backgrounds – of our energetic, thriving and multicultural city participated. They included entrepreneurs, public servants, managing directors and students; but most of all city people.

We came up with answers to the questions of what impressions people have of Helsinki folk, and what impressions they should have.

“Helsinki is like a blender of human activity,” was the conclusion of one workshop team after an hour and a half of sparring.

“Where else in the world do technology and design meet in the same way as in Finland?” asked Nicolas Dolenc, Executive Producer of the technology and growth company event, Slush.

This creative package includes the aim to do good. For example, the New Non-Profit programme to be launched at Slush on 11 November will encourage companies and other organisations to seek more agile solutions to building the wellbeing society of the future.

The Finnish start-up spirit, which includes a generous helping of true grit, needs helping hands from even further afield.

Helsinki can provide the basis for this. One of the teams made the following point: “Helsinki is a beta-level city.” Here, we can safely test ideas out. Hierarchies are flat and we have high-level expertise ranging from engineering to the humanities and service design. But we have to learn to tolerate failure and work half-done if a culture of experimentation is going to thrive in Helsinki.

Both people and ideas mingled at the workshops. The first drafts of the Helsinki story are emerging from this creative destruction. It will soon be time to experiment.

Text and picture: Riikka Lahdensuo