UPDATED JUNE 21ST, 2012
Today I went out into the ‘mud-luscious’ forest of Nuuksio for tree planting with kids and some 17,000,000 other global citizens around the planet on this very day. Organized by ENO (Environment Online), a virtual global school and network, their fearless leader, one Mika Vanhanen, clearly an energetic and passionate leader, ended by surprising us all. But I’ll tell you about that later.
Turns out that the gale-force winds that knocked down our 60-year-old maple in front of the Embassy on Boxing Day, 2011, also cut a huge swath of destruction through Nuuksio. Some of the felled trees were over 120 years old.
We were taught to use the COOLEST gadget, a Finnish invention called a POTTIPUTKI, that allows a person to plant as many as 1500 trees per day! Mirka McIntire and I did a little online lesson in Finnish and English on the four (or so) simple steps to plant a tree:
Step 1: Stick the Pottiputki in a chosen spot at least two meters from another tree and step on the orange plate to align it.
Step 2: Step on the blue lever to dig the hole.
Step 3: Drop the little tree seedling into the hole and lift the Pottiputki.
Step 4: Tamp the ground around your little seedling to tighten and secure.
Step 5: Snap the handle to reset the gadget for your next planting!
Now how easy would this be for planting spring and fall flower bulbs, for instance?!? I WANT to buy ONE! But it’s not always easy to find cool stuff like this—we’re investigating.
In the meantime, I learned a great deal more about Finnish trees and forests from Petri Heinonen of UPM, resorting to the Latin and taxonomic characteristics to understand each other. Really fun.
And Mari Nuutinen and I had a soulful conversation about how her work with RCE Espoo (the UNU Regional Centre of Expertise of Education for Sustainable Development) is engaging folks, young and old, to take care of our delicate waters and woods. RCE is a network of formal and non-formal educational institutions dedicated to teaching sustainable development. Each RCE helps translate the global sustainable development agenda into a local plan of action. The City of Espoo is the only RCE network in Finland. You can read more about getting involved from their website: Sustainable Development Espoo (RCE) and for the bigger picture, take a look at Regional Centres of Expertise (RCE). Good stuff indeed.
As we packed up the equipment after a beautiful lunch by Lake Kattilajärvi, Mika addressed us with a few words of thanks for the day and the lyrics of a song that he had written. He began to read the lyrics but we stopped him, begging him to sing it for us instead. He did so, singing in a sweet tenor against the backdrop of the lindens, spruces and birches dappled with light. I was so entranced that I forgot to take a picture for you, dear reader, but I found his song to leave with you as a parting gift at the end of this good day:
UPDATE: Read also Petri Heinonen’s (Environmental Manager, Forestry, UPM) blog post, Life of Wood, from the event
Cody Douglas Oreck
U.S. Embassy Helsinki