{ICM820} Global Fusion 2015_Some Intriguing Themes

Discovery, learning, Research

I’m attending a fantastic conference called Global Fusion, this year hosted by Texas A&MU . Every panel I’ve attended has featured intriguing themes and great presentations. One particularly wonderful aspect of the conference is that graduate students are warmly welcomed, and encouraged to present. So take note for the next year’s conference at Temple University in Philly!

Here are four take-aways especially relevant to our course ICM820 at SJU:

1. Castells & Digital Public Diplomacy

Remember this reading by Manuel Castells: Week 4_Castells – The New Public Spehere_Global Civil Society? Marco Ehrl is using that very theory of Global Public Sphere in concretely analyzing Germany’s current diplomatic efforts to engage nations as well as civil societies of different countries.

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2.  Online campaigns – when do they support democracy?

Eduardo Villanueva Mansilla is about to begin a research project in Peru on why some campaigns online, especially in social media, catch on, why others don’t. He notes that institutional support is crucial to get some off-line action to happen (e.g., Union civil ya!). He also notes that often behind a campaign that seems spontaneous, viral, and citizen-driven (e.g., Parejas reales) is a lobbyist group with $. And then, there are the cases when a campaign goes viral for real, and takes multiple forms for people to express their support or dissatisfaction (e.g., Chapa tu choro). The big question is, is the last one merely slacktivism, expression rather than action.

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3. Cybercrime

Katharine Hodgdon is researching forms of cybercrime and how they are governed.  NOTE! International agreements are very good at addressing crimes that relate to commercial activities; harassment of individuals is less covered.

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4. Cosmopolitanism

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Finally,  we saw a video on popularizing the ice and ideal of cosmopolitanism (remember Delanty: Week 4_Cosmopolitan Comm_Delanty).  Miyase Christensen — a professor from Sweden — has tried to understand the concept of cosmopolitanism  as an ethical stand: trying to understand one another in everyday situations, via the media and face-to-face. Here’s a short excerpt.

{discovery} Kota Expert Insights for Non-profits!

Discovery, Good News, ICYMI

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I’m a proud Board Member of The Kota Alliance, a NYC-based 501c3 that aims to establish an incubator space for women’s non-profits in the City.

In late Spring 2015, Kota organized an event,  #KotaDayto offer opportunities for networking and co-learning — in essence, to showcase its core mission. The day featured keynotes by Dambisa Moyo,  Economist and Author;  Lopa Banerjee, Chief of the Civil Society Section at UNWomen; and Sheryl WuDunn, Author of A Path Appears. Some hundred participants also attended 14 interactive workshops, topics of which ranged from girls’ rights and women’s in conflict situations, to fundraising and legal issues.

I did a series of interviews with some inspiring and insightful workshop leaders, featured in these blog posts. Hope you find them useful for your non-profit or related work!

{discovery} Happy 4th!


4th of

As I recently wrote: for a long time, I harbored a dream about New York for decades. After visits, I would feel restless longing: I had returned from scenes of the vibrant colours of NYC to the muted blues, greens and grays of HEL.

At the same time, I was not sure what I felt about the US of A. I had spent some time in the Midwest as a teen and then again in college. I liked it. My most inspiring and wonderful memories  of scholarly activities and freedom are from UW-Madison where I got inspired enough about cultural and media studies to pursue a PhD. (Those were the days, times are a-changing.)

So, on this 7/4, I want to set the record straight:

I love Finnish nature and culture and people and design and all my heritage. I am also so thankful for Finland for the safe childhood and free high-quality education (from K-12 to PhD). Now, assessing this from a distance, it amazes me how many opportunities and resources I had as a scholar. (Those were the days, times are a-changing.) I hope to have given back at least in taxes if not in any other way (and so has my dad, for 50+ years, and for whom we have to now get plenty of health care services from the private sector, due to cuts in elderly care.).

Most of all, I have benefitted enormously from growing up in a socio-cultural climate of gender equality and relatively small level of income inequality. (Those were the days, times are a-changing.)

The above mentioned factors, I believe, contribute to this predicament:

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The bottom line: I greatly appreciate the United States of America. GREATLY. Compared to many homogenous small nation-states of the rest of the West, the US  is dealing with a hundred-fold of issues. Before moving to the US, I could not appreciate the complexity and diversity of this country — cultural, geographical, political (yes!), ethnic, and so on. As a lay person, I would call it a political nightmare. And, even in the midst  of all the challenges and wrongdoings, and (mis)use of power, there ARE dissident voices and activism and debates and idealism. Happy 4th to the complexity of this country, and especially to those who continuously and bravely challenge the status quo, as the history of the country obliges.

{discovery} Leaving New York City: A Musical Memory


Love-hating New York is a longstanding trend.

I’m  joining the league of bloggers and writers leaving New York and confessing how hard it is. So many times I’ve felt I’m experiencing a moment larger than life, like in a movie. Or, perhaps more aptly, I’m in a middle of a song.

I longed to live here for so long and a soundtrack fueled that urge, passion, and dream. This is not a memoir but a chain of memories as tunes – an abbreviate version, for your listening and viewing pleasure. Maybe you recognize some of the songs.

1. One of the first songs that I lived through, lived through in NYC  while being a pre-teen in Helsinki, turned out to have a connection to my life, as realized some 20 years later:

Well it’s great to do a neighborhood concert. I hope everybody can hear us. I hope the sound is good…” I knew those words from the recording of the concert, almost as a part of the song. And the beginning: “Let us be lovers, we’ll marry our fortunes together”. During one of our first dates my husband played me the song on his grand piano — and told me he had been at the concert. I was there too, in spirit, but intensely longing for the city:

2. Another song that reflects to NYC and still strongly resonated with me was introduced to me by a dear friend. We used to skip high school, drink vodka or coffee, and listen to the the music a bit before our time. Another song that sanctified Central Park for me forever, and the spirit of freedom and rebellion, a trip from boredom and flatness to the center of life, even if the Age of Aquarius had already passed:

3. In 1984 (I think) I finally  travelled to NYC. I was with the student drama group of Oulunkyla High School, on our way to a youth drama festival in the midwest. In the city, we stayed at — the YMCA.  This was also the summer of Thriller:

4. I’ve never been one for musicals but saw this one, on a trip with that time boyfriend, to the city, in 1993. So romantic: both of us were exchange students in the US but half a country away form one another. And so we meet in New York…We stayed at the Philip Starck hotel across the street from the theatre. I had listened to the CD in order to begin to appreciate the genre and learned the songs and lyrics. Here’s a version a few decades later, from #LesMiz:

5. It took me a while, a lot of longing but a lot of courage to get to New York for good. I got an internship at the UN in 1997. As the luck would have it, I also fell crazily in love a month before leaving Finland. Ironically, the object of my desire and longing changed from a city (where I finally lived) to a man half a world away. His work had to do with music so he traveled often to see me. He was crazy about John Zorn, so I became crazy about him, too:

6. Thankfully, he introduced me to Celia Cruz and La India, as well. (I went back to Finland, heart sick for him — and promptly, we broke up. But knowing this is worth it):

7. Fast forward years when I house sat for friends here and there, during every vacation. Those times were coloured by intense introspection, yoga practice, and search for… something. And I wrote, little stories, for example about this wonderful messenger of grace and faith — Krishna Das.

8.  Those days, I also got to know a wonderful Indian friend who got me into Bollywood. Nothing like Shah Rukh Khan and the Brooklyn Bridge (and nothing to describe the best of NYC than the video of the song with Spanish subtitles.)

(A more visually pleasing HD version can be found here).

9. My love for all things New York and Indian took me often to SOB‘s and I learned about the fabulous DJ Rekha:

10. Starting over in Crown Heights. On the verge of what some might call middle age I moved back to New York and settled in Brooklyn. It became my universe. I don’t think I have ever loved buildings, streets, and neighbors as I did then. I don’t know if I ever can. My building was Haitian, a block away from the Lubavitch Hasidic community. My life was full of the world, my world was right there, in sadness and happiness, sounds of reggae mixing with jazz, klezmer, pop. I was “riding my bike from the Brooklyn Bridge to Crown Heights“, from “darkness into light”. But, as beautiful the song is, Musiq Soulchild just couldn’t sing live, as we discovered in a free BK concert…

These songs tell the story:

11. And then love came, and Manhattan. While I missed Kings County very much, I was consoled by treasures such as Pedrito Martinez playing at a hole-in-the-wall Cuban place close by. That divine voice:

12. Thankfully, after Hell’s Kitchen, we moved to BedStuy. My university would play a one specific song in the beginning ceremonies for Freshmen, by my former neighbor of Marcy Playground. So why not, as an appropriate version:

13. Finally, how else could this post end: Leaving New York – never easy. [I told you: I love you, I love you forever.]

{discovery} Popsicle Passion


Who knew that I would be swept away by passion for making popsicles? Perhaps that’s not so strange, given how easy they are to make and to eat, and how fun and light they are as desserts and snacks. (And, admittedly, the BK handmade gourmet popsicle craze, as silly as it is, made me aware of this delicacy.)

Here are some of my classics — what are yours?

The Natural: Pureed strawberries and blueberries with honey.
The Nordic: Rhubarbs sauteed with brown sugar, pureed with fresh strawberries, spiced with cinnamon.
The Unbearable Lightness: Pureed watermelon, lime juice, Agave syrup.
The Decadent: Coconut cream, Nutella, bananas.

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More to come!