Being part of the research community does not always mean that one is either conducting experiments or writing papers at the office. Occasionally, you are challenged to take a walk on the wild side, do something unusual. This is what happened to APP4SEA coordinator, Niko Hänninen, who keeps the project on track partners on line. But on the second week of October, when Brussels was hosting the annual EU Regions Week, he was there too and dressed as a bird. What was this all about then? Had he finally gone cuckoo? No, that was no the case, the partners had not pushed him over brink. Niko was attending Interact's Proeject Slam competition.
In beginning of October the regions and cities of Europe gather to Brussels to hear what is happening in different parts of the continent. Competition for attention is harsh, there is seminars, workshops and sessions of all kinds. And then there is events that are quite unique, such as the Project Slam. Interact, which is an Interreg programme that is working for all the regional Interreg programmes, sent out a call for actions for the other programmes in spring 2019. The aim was to find contestants for the Project Slam, a competition that they had organised in 2018. Interact wanted to repeat the success from the previous year and was looking for projects that could tell in a creative and innovative way about their work. Applicants were asked to make a 3-minute long video and over 40 applications were received. APP4SEA was one of the 8 finalists, who were invited to Brussels for the Grande Finale.
The lucky eight headed to Brussels in October, where they were going to give either a 3-minute long ted talk or 6-minute long acted play on stage in front of a live audience. No editing or retakes, just 3 or 6 minutes on stage depending on the presentation form and then out. Niko took this as a challenge and found a solution. Since the mascot of the project is Penny the Puffin, who is tweeting weekly cool facts about the Arctic, perhaps her big brother Peter could be persuaded to take the stage and share his wise words with the audience. Monday was the dress rehearsal, where all the projects put up their presentations and got some last minute advice regarding them. The main event was on Tuesday. And the rest is Youtube history, preserved for ever.
The competition was fierce, no mercy was given or asked for. The audience decided the winners and unfortunately APP4SEA did not make it to the podium. So, no fortune for APP4SEA on this time, but plenty of publicity and fame. The project received a lot of visibility, a project manager took a walk on the wild side and put the project on the map and in the minds of many people. People, some of whom had not considered Arctic OSR issues before at all, came face to face with the challenges related to it. Niko is back at office and doing more serious things again, but the project is not over yet. And who knows, perhaps the big puffin will take to a stage again and bask in the blinding stage lamps and in people's applause. If you want to experience these moments by yourself, do have a look at the videos. Maybe, even you will take then the plunge and do something totally different...