As a journalist, I’ve always been fascinated with solutions. That’s because much of the criticism around the news industry has been that it focuses too heavily on what is wrong with the world. While I agree that we must show the injustices, we can also highlight some of the answers to those injustices.
So, I joined a group of fellow journalists in the US who are focusing on “solutions journalism” — that is, we showcase innovators, changemakers, and viable solutions. We’re critical of these ideas often. But the ultimate goal is “How can journalism help us build a better, more just, more empathetic society?”
How does this pertain to Finland? Much of the discourse in the US about creating a happy, balanced, and content society is centered around results, lists, and surveys, comparing the US to other developed countries. And at the top of that list? Countries such as Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark.
Yet, the question then is: how do we, a country of 300 million and more, apply the same policies, social welfare systems, and infrastructure used by a country of 5 million? Do the lessons cross over? Can we even adapt some of the solutions that Finland has found for a nation that’s 60 times its size?
I was keen on applying for thisisFINLAND Foreign Correspondents’ Programme because I saw it as an opportunity to visit one of these lands of “happiness” and see if I could find solutions for the American context.
I’ve admired the Finnish culture; in particular, their association with nature. As the conversations around climate change, limited resources, and our endless consumption become more real, can we look to societies like Finland that seem to have found a balance between modernity and preserving the Earth?
If Finland had a tagline, I think it would read something like, “Less is more.” That’s a philosophy that I can personally relate to. But how do we magnify that for a country of 300 million with a pretty egregious record of consumption?
I’m going to Finland to see their innovations in waste, health, the environment, and urban design. I want to see how entrepreneurs, technologies, and policy makers are tackling these challenges and can their ideas be exported.
In America, we only know about Finland’s educational system — because it’s so drastically different from ours where teachers are underpaid (and often unqualified). We don’t know much more beyond that about Finland. And that’s a shame.
As a global community, if we’re going to take on some of the serious social and environmental questions of our time, we’re going to need to draw lessons from one another. While Finland might be a country of only 5 million, I think it has some wisdom to share — especially for America’s bloated lifestyle.