Finn it to win it

On climate hope and the pace of change (and Finnish findings)

In 2015 I got to go to Finland. My group of journalism fellows was somehow invited to the national broadcaster on the eve of their election night, where we got to chat with the leaders of all the political parties. It was a wild and worrisome evening, as the country was bracing for a rise in seats for the far-right parties. If you look at all the candidates that ran for office in that election, you’ll notice one thing: they all have nice glasses. If you notice two things: they’re all men.

The election proved not as bad as expected (though the populist Finns did get the second-most seats), and we were able to enjoy the rest of our trip, becoming completely Findoctrinated: Don’t ask me about their amazing educational system unless you want a four-hour ramble on the merits thereof.* I also managed to stay in a hotel right on top of a Marimekko and Cos store for a week and a half and not purchase a single thing, so I considered the trip an abstemious success, except for the day where I drank a million beers and yoyo’d between an icy lake and cozy sauna.

Four years later, and everyone is meme-ing the all-female Finnish political contenders (and youngest world leader victor, Sanna Marin!), and holding the country up as a model of gender equity, among other merits. This is great for a number of reasons, but namely because it’s a fintastic example of my favourite narrative: quick change.

When we’re at our political, planetary, or social nadir, it feels as if things could never possibly change for the better. Each successive disappointment pushes us further into the hole, and the light grows dimmer as we descend. We imagine clawing at packed dirt for years, never getting out of the dark. But then someone tosses a rope and pulls us up with an instantaneous yoink, the speed of which often eclipses the lethargic pace of the languid descent, and all is ok. We’re loss-averse people. We fear losses much more profoundly than we anticipate gains. And the gains get normalized and forgotten all too quickly, while the wounds and setbacks of loss take longer to heal. But Sanna Marin shows me that positive change can happen, quick. And while I do fear that she’s getting glass-cliffed by being handed a debilitating strike as a welcome to office...she’s there. Kippis!

And now my Finn fandom is back full force. Do you want to know a great Finnish word? It’s raventola. Isn’t that so much better than restaurant?

*Or about district energy, which I can talk about for 37 hours. Here’s an ad for Helsinki’s district energy company.


Cool Art for a Hot Planet

A few weeks ago I wrote about climate art and my vague distaste for it. Suddenly there’s climate art everywhere, and it’s bloody great. 

From a great Guardian piece on Art Basel climate art by my pal, Nadja Sayej.

This one needs no story, the visual alone is so striking, but here ya go:

Not art per se, but here’s a podcast with a talk I gave on overcoming existential climate dread if you have twenty minutes and some existial climate dread to do away with.


Wishing you hope and strength and a constant reminder that situations and humans can pivot very quickly when they need to. Some can pivot in a millisecond, while offering up positive vibey typography, like my dance crush, Donté Colley.


Do you have a bad-to-great quick change story? Please share so I can share!

If you have ways to make this newsletter better, I’m all ears. If you enjoyed this letter please heart it below so the substack deities will shine kindly down upon me.

Have a beautiful week!