The Finlandia Foundation Seattle Chapter annual meeting was held at the Swedish Cultural Center on April 23rd. The meeting followed an agenda that I’m sure has remained virtually unchanged for years: officers of the board presented reports to the membership accounting for resources and programs, and members in attendance had an opportunity to ask questions and comment on those reports. Reports were followed by announcement of scholarship winners and finally new members were elected for the 2014 – 2015 board. In this President’s Message I’m including the “State of the Chapter” report that was presented at the annual meeting.
Finlandia Foundation Seattle Chapter continues to be strong in many ways. Our finances are in good order, we have a hardworking, dedicated board, a fantastic newsletter and excellent programs that are frequently organized jointly with other local Nordic organizations. Events held during the past year illustrate well co-operation with other organizations: in July, 2013, we hosted the Pedavoces choir from Vaasa, Finland together with the Swedish Cultural Center. In August the Finland Summer Festival was held in Bellevue jointly with 12 other local Finnish organizations. Kristiina Hiukka did a marvelous job as MC of the event for the entire day, and an audience of some 140 – 150 people enjoyed a variety of musical performances, children’s talent show, outdoor sports such as Palikka and cell phone tossing, arts/crafts and puppet show with Suomi Koulu, folk dancing and great food.
In October we had the pleasure of hosting cellist Jussi Makkonen and pianist Ruusamari Teppo – great-granddaughter of Jean Sibelius – at the Seattle Finnish Luther Church before they continued to the Lynden music festival. A month later pianist Marja Kaisla – Finlandia Foundation National Performer of the Year – gave a wonderful concert at the Cornish College of Arts in November.
Also in November, FFSC joined other local Finnish organizations in the annual Finnish Community Bazaar at the Nordic Heritage Museum and on December 7th we held our traditional Independence Day Dinner and Dance at the Swedish Cultural Center. Attendance was somewhat lower than during previous years, but plenty of positive feedback was given by many attendees about the event. In particular, our visiting speaker Paul Raida, honorary consul of Estonia, and the Pickled Herring Band were popular.
Together with the University of Washington Finnish Studies Program, we hosted author Hanna Pylväinen at the Swedish Cultural Center in February. The event was very interesting and successful, with nearly 50 people in attendance.
In addition to these events, the monthly “Films from Finland” series continues to be run by Gary London, as he has done since the inauguration of the series in 2006. Films are shown at the Swedish Cultural Center, and while attendance has at times been rather low, it was nice to see a fairly sizeable audience at the most recent movie.
FFSC continued to offer weekly Finnish language classes at the Finnish Lutheran Church, a program that has been running for several decades and has been enjoyed by many students. This year classes were taught by Christopher Morris, with Jenni Salmi managing the overall program. The scholarship program also has a long history, and this year FFSC was able to award two $1,500. Scholarships. The 2014 winners are Rosie Leung and Saiontoni Sarkar, both students at the University of Washington who will be studying in Finland this summer.
New officers and members-at-large were elected to the FFSC board at the annual meeting, and I am very pleased to see new faces on the board, although I believe almost all of the new board members have served in the past. John Borland will be treasurer and Karoliina Kuisma, Jenni Salmi, Christine Makela and Paula Price will serve as members-at-large on the 2014- 2015 FFSC board. I want to thank the entire board for its dedicated work, and in particular Fran Whitehill, Satu Mikkola, Eva Männistö and Taija Hämäläinen who are not continuing on the board. I also thank our newsletter editor Taina Lindström-Redfern for all the hard work involved in producing such as beautiful newsletter.
By the time this newsletter edition has been printed and mailed out to the membership, another joint event will be in the past, namely a jazz concert by the Olli Hirvonen Trio at the Swedish Cultural Center at the end of May. On July 25th we will host – once again with the Swedish Cultural Center – the Aallotar duo, consisting of violinist Sara Pajunen from Minnesota and accordionist Teija Niku from Finland. Some of you may be familiar with Ms. Pajunen from the duo Kaivama which has performed in the Seattle area. More events are in the plans for the fall and winter and I hope you will be able to participate in them and enjoy them.