My interesting fourth day with FCP really helped me to understand some important aspects of Finnish society. But not only this: I also had a great opportunity to taste Finnish food and to see how a true Finnish cook prepared it. It was a great experience to participate in the Finnish food workshop by Flavour Studio in Teurastamo: raw fish, reindeer meat and berry cakes give you a taste of Finnish flavour. Maybe I will try some Finnish recipes in Italy too!
The most striking experience for me was visiting the “Senior home Kotisatama”. Elderly people present a huge issue for Finland. The population is growing older and older and finding solutions about how to take care of this important “slice” in our societies is an integral problem in many countries – it is already happening in Italy, too.
In Kotisatama over fifty people own their apartments but participate in common life moments by cooking and cleaning together. It is a great example and also a message of hope because it demonstrates that people can choose to live in a common situation to avoid loneliness. Of course this is a particular reality, since all of the persons we met there were in good health and had chosen to participate in this “common living project” years ago. But still, it can be a model to think about.
Unluckily, the reality is not always like this though. Also in Finland, indeed, there are many retirement homes which are not examples of best practices, as the writer Minna Lindgren explained to me when I interviewed her. She wrote a trilogy whose characters are free ladies in their 90s who live in a special retirement house and turn into three “new Miss Marples” trying to solve strange murder cases.
Her books have been published in Italy as well as Finland. Lindgren uses humour to focus on serious themes, which are for example the conditions and loneliness of old people living in these institutions. Lindgren also says that Western welfare social systems do not consider old people as a priority and this is an important cultural issue. Meeting her was really interesting. I could listen to her critical description of aspects of Finnish society, but I could also confront myself with excellent examples such as Kotisatama. The message is that maybe we have to think of new solutions to solve these social issues, and comparing different examples and realities can be a first important step.