Greening: a vivid colour bridge from Tampere to Ireland

The Greening in Tampere has been highly regarded – between the first ever last year and this year’s, it has reached a popularity beyond that of the Great Wall of China or the Sydney Opera House.

Greening? Yes, as part of the celebration of the St. Patrick’s Day, the national holiday of Ireland on March 17th. It all began when about eight years ago, Tourism Ireland launched an initiative to do “Global Greening”. It basically consists of lighting up significant landmarks around the world in their emblematic green – over 200 of them. In monetary terms, Ireland invests about 25.000 euros in the global initiative, and the resulting value created is said to be approximately 20 million euros.

“When I arrived here, I realised that nobody in Finland had done this yet. I happened to be at an event where I had a conversation with a representative from Tourism Ireland and thereafter we started to discuss with our Visit Tampere colleagues how to bring it to Tampere and what could be different about it so that it would stand out”, says Oliver Hussey, Senior Business Advisor at Tredea.

And so, they eventually decided that their Greening in Tampere would emphasise on lighting up green the unique Finnish nature and people in action – instead of static monuments or buildings without people in it. The outcome for 2016 was a series of photographs of Irish residents in Tampere and their friends ice-hole swimming, going to the sauna and playing the traditional Irish sport of Hurling on the frozen Nasijärvi lake. These were then published across Irish and Finnish media. The happening was featured in about ten newspapers and it generated more than 40.000 impressions on Twitter and Facebook.

Photo: Greened ice-hole swimming at Näsijärvi lake / Jeff McCarthy.

This year 2017, they had no doubt about doing it again, but this time with ice-fishing and cross-country skiing over the same lake. In all this, Oliver Hussey thinks utilising the existing channels was very significant. Tourism Ireland already had the communication channels and contacts in the Irish press, and they were very supportive and welcomed such content. In other words, from the side of Tampere they were pushing content into a machine that was already running. In this way, they were helping each other, to promote Ireland in Tampere and vice versa. He seems satisfied and asserts that it has worked spectacularly well.

Moreover, he encourages other internationals, particularly the Tampere Ambassadors to unfold their creativity, and create new kinds of cultural events:

“I believe people of any country or culture can bring something positive into their new home. There should be more of that done, and celebrate that locally. So the more of that there will be, the more appreciation there will be of diverse backgrounds. And it would improve the conversation between immigrant communities and local people, no matter where it is.”

Actually, although there may be plenty of willful internationals, it may sound challenging or they may not know where to begin with it. The best suggestion he offers is, to keep it simple and focus on the idea – not as much on the material means. To make such suggestion more tangible, the Tampere Ambassador Network Manager Mari Taverne along with Oliver Hussey, propose to start thinking about the following action steps:


Guidelines for setting up new cultural events.

There are some Tampere Ambassadors who have fruitfully put forward a bridging initiative already, such as Laura Vanzo or Ursula Helsky-Lehtola.

In any case, “if you have a fun idea, people are willing to get involved – you don’t need a big budget to start something, you just need a good idea to go a long way. Don’t wait for someone else to do it! And on the way, you’ll find some like-minded people!” Oliver Hussey concludes.

Besides his main profession, Oliver Hussey is also an enthusiast of storytelling and cultural event ideation. As such, he is one of the founders of The Irish Festival of Oulu, an annual event held since 2005.

Will there be a third Greening in Tampere next year? Nothing is confirmed at this point, but we sure could expect that they most likely keep up their creativity – intertwining the Irish and Finnish uniqueness.