A Website Makeover Overnight and Other Recent Events

So the Steps Helsinki website finally got a complete makeover this weekend!

Feel free to check the new site out at http://stepshelsinki.fi.

I am fairly happy with the resulting look and feel, as well as with the new design-related photos and colors that I used in the design.

Migrating the site over to a WordPress Business Plan as well as a complete redesign of the site was in my interests since the very beginning of this year – but I have been putting this project off for some time now, since my weekends seem to fill up with social events.

Last night, I also took the time to revamp the rest of the contents of the site, and will also shortly start writing a blog about marketing and service design and related topics in Finnish to spice up the website.

So stay tuned for that, dear readers!

Steps Helsinki now has 80 followers over in Twitter, and nearly as many followers as that in Facebook and LinkedIn combined.

Joining Twitter, finally, has been fruitful and rewarding. I still need to speed up and to boost my sales, as the two deals I was aiming for to get started with fell through before the end of the year. I am very much looking forward to closing some deals soon.

My agency will be moving in next month with Pentagon Design Oy. This is great news, as their premises are located conveniently enough in the hip Suvilahti area of Helsinki, and only a 10-15 minute walk away from my place in Kallio.

And who knows, perhaps there will be some joint efforts design projects coming up too.

The “Upea Ura!” -festival event is coming up soon. I have been planning the event as for the theme of strategic and creative thinking together with Riikka Pellikka. Our invited keynote speaker in the event as for this theme will be Anne Stenros, the Chief Design Officer of the City of Helsinki. Also, Maija Tanninen-Mattila, the Director of the Helsinki Art Museum, and Piritta Kantojärvi, the CEO of Grape People, as well as Marianne Tenhula, a Service Designer currently working at the design agency Palmu, will be giving talks.

I will be facilitating a few practical exercises during the event. Looking forward to the festival!

In other news, it seems my studies at the University of Helsinki are currently at a complete standstill since last autumn. I did give a presentation on the issue of street art and the Berlin Wall last year in an international summer school conference of the Nordic Summer University (NSU), however, my beloved master’s thesis is a work very much in progress right now.

I will just have to see if this upcoming summer may offer me a chance to work on that.

I am mentoring a group of four students and my peers this semester. Most of them are currently looking for a job. It seems to me like my university background has always come second to my studies in the university of applied sciences when it comes to getting employed and my next career moves.

I hope, nevertheless, that I can inspire this group of students to get to know their strengths in the current job market and to find an intriguing position. I think university background gives a huge advantage for many vacancies.

Like many in the academia here, I am worried that we will shortly be facing tuition fees in universities and other arrangements that will greatly affect the equality of access to higher education.

I think it goes almost without saying that a university-level education certainly gives a substantially stronger background for getting employed in many fields besides studying in a polytechnic institute. The current budget cuts in the university world of Finland may come at a cost in the long run, because we do need workforce with higher education in Finland, to boost the economy and the startup-spirit.

Appearances of the Political and the NSU

So I’m attending the Nordic Summer University conference this week in Orivesi, Finland, and presented my paper entitled ”The Berlin Wall as a Heterotopian Site – Reflections on the Topology of the Wall as a Tourist Landmark” here yesterday afternoon.

The presentation sparked an intriguing conversation on spatial aesthetics, and I’m happy to be here, as I got very nice feedback on my paper.

The Nordic Summer University, or NSU for short, is a nomadic network for interdisciplinary research, operating in the Nordic and Baltic region.

The summer conferences have been organized ever since the 1950’s, and this organization is the oldest academic, independent co-operation body in the Nordic countries.

At the NSU website, this organization’s mission is currently described as follows, “The NSU fundamentally operates as a generator of ideas. It seeks to develop scholarly and innovative initiatives by building international networks and communities engaged in cross-disciplinary research enquiries and critical thinking. The NSU gives priority to topical subjects of study that are often on the margins of disciplinary boundaries not already established at the universities.”

I attended the winter session of NSU in Oslo last year, and enjoyed the conference as well as visiting Norway. When I got the CFP for this conference by email, I couldn’t resist but to send a proposal for a paper. And I’m really glad I did that, as I got accepted into the “Appearances of the Political” study circle.

The NSU is currently operating 8 thematic study circles, each with the running period of 3 years. As for the “Appearances of the Political” study circle, this is the second session. The circle will convene for another 4 times, 2 times in the winter, 2 times in the summer.

Approximately 120 people from 20 different countries are attending the summer conference this year.

In the “Appearances of the Political” study circle, we have been given presentations on very diverse topics, such as on the aesthetics of yoga, on fashion in relation to politics, on the Estonian “Singing Revolution”, and on feminist literature. There are also artistic activities happening at the premises of the Orivesi Folk High School, and the official program includes a visit to either Tampere or the Mänttä Art Festival.

The keynote speakers of the conference this year are Elizabeth Povinelli and Robert Pfaller.

As I’ve enjoyed my time here, I’m very much looking forward to attending the next winter session too!

Find out more about the NSU by visiting http://nordic.university/

You can also find the abstracts of the presentations given online. I have also published my full paper at the Academia.edu website, just click on the link below for the PDF.