Photo: Sarah Karjalainen

NordMatch 2017 in 5 keywords

On October 26–27, the 4th edition of the seminar NordMatch under the theme “Together for Inclusion” took place at the Arcada University of Applied Sciences (UAS) in Helsinki, Finland. This major event was organized mainly by Creative and Inclusive Finland, a program that funds projects and promotes the employment of people in cultural and creative sectors and the inclusion of youth through the learning of new skills. Other partners came along the 2-day journey, among them Metropolia UAS, Luckan (The Finland-Swedish Information and Cultural Centre) and the City of Helsinki. Two days to gather and talk, brainstorm and get inspired, to listen and speak up. As a first-timer in attending such an event, I honestly did not know what to expect when, on the first morning, I was glancing at my name tag, wondering what professionals of the cultural and artistic field would expect from a student in social services.

In short: Two days, more than 200 participants (students and professionals), 12 partners, 1 place, 8 countries, 1 common goal.

Now that the exhilaration and excitement resulting from the seminar have cooled off, I can start to reflect on what were the 5 main keywords that can be shared with you, to give you a spoonful of the delicious atmosphere I have had the privilege to taste in NordMatch 2017.

1. Inspiration

In total, 11 intervenants from 8 different countries came to present their current, or about to be realized, projects or structures. Estonia, Norway, Iceland, Lithuania, Latvia, Sweden, Finland and Denmark were represented. Professionals and students from various fields and focusing on different target groups or methods came on stage to tell about their cause. The panel of projects was eclectic and stimulating: from the wonderful creations of the Latvian Society for the Blind for the integration of impaired individuals, to an exciting one-week festival in Iceland where children are given the total freedom to take over the news and become journalists for the occasion, those presentations were the opportunity to experiment a moment filled with hopes, ambitions and achievements. Various methods, goals, locations, fundings, reasons, motivations were disclosed, all unique and carried by the hard work of individuals who want to believe in a better world. One common goal however emerged from those presentations: if you want to build up a project and you have faith in it, go for it, don’t give up.

2. Cross-sectoring

Another aim of the event was to gather people from different sectors to team up and work together: students and professionals from cultural, social and humanities disciplines were invited to share time together, mingling, networking, asking about each other. By creating, in a safe space for dialogue and progress, a possibility to brainstorm, to develop projects and to join strengths, NordMatch was an ideal event to find out that each person has something to bring to a team.

3. Advisory Ring

During the seminar, we have had the opportunity to learn a method on how to build up a project in teams. It has been demonstrated that the ideal number of participants is 7 (uneven and enough) and that the members can be from different sectors and backgrounds. The ring happens in a determined time with no phones, no disturbance, in a quiet room, with food and water available. It can be held in a long version (1 hour/participant): 15 min to pitch a project or ideas, 45 minutes of positive feedbacks boosting the project from the other participants. Then, a 10-minute break, without the permission to talk any longer about what has just been said. Then, the next participant starts pitching his/her own ideas. In a shorter version: 3 minutes to pitch, 15 minutes feedbacks and boosting, 1 minute break. We have used the short version, then voted for the best idea, which has been presented the next day in front of financiers. The winner (Tobias Grünfelder: The Magic of Diversity) won a 3000 euros price, to start his project.

This amazing method develops creativity, teamwork and confidence. Getting positive feedback for an idea that might have sounded crazy at first is rewarding, and helps to consider new perspectives.

4. Pitching

The second day, we participated to a workshop on how to pitch effectively an idea in front of a panel of financiers, to raise funds and get a project started. It was interesting to get a chance to learn how to “sell” an idea, to actually think about costs and investments, to rehearse and get feedbacks. Especially for students, I think this part of the program was new and a little bit scary at first, but a useful tool and a definitely needed skill for the future.

5. Ambition(s)

Probably the concept I did not expect to encounter during the seminar. Of course, I was thinking that the ambition of the professionals presenting the cases, or other experts, would be on display and shown as an example. However, I did not imagine that my own ambitions would be challenged, praised and encouraged. A huge emphasis has been put on how much every idea counts, as surrealistic as it may seem at first. The positive attitude of the organizers and peers, the safe space to express yourself and be heard, have been a fantastic boost on a personal level regarding my capacities to elaborate a project in the future and to believe in it. I wish each one of us could experience that feeling, and get the confidence to make up a team and actually start working on “crazy” ideas to make them real.

NordMatch has been a great experience, stimulating and creative, where imagination and resources met, where teamwork and good atmosphere made sense. An experience I can only recommend to everyone. Oh, and of course, not to mention the refreshing party too, to release the minds after a long day of brainstorming.


Text: Julie Furter, Social Services, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Helsinki