GSE Team Finland from D5580 visited Sodankyla’s home building factory Teijo-Talot, northern Finland’s producer of ready made homes. 14 homes were manufactured last year taking on average 12-15 weeks and weighing 50-80 metric tons. Teijo-Talot offers homeowners a turn-key home which is manufactured to their exact specifications and delivered to their property. We learned about the various sub-contractors involved in the process including architects, steel work, framing, HVAC, electric, plumbing, and trim work. The average price per square meter is 1,700 Euro. A 3-bedroom, 2-bath home would cost around 254,000 Euro. This business provides a unique opportunity to construct quality homes for a growing community with a long cold, dark winter. A special thank you to Matti Raisanen for allowing our team to have an up-close look at this unique industry.
Our team then learned about the municipality of Sodankyla, a district similar in size to the country of Belgium. The population of Finland is just over 5 million. Lapland makes up nearly half of the country but has a population of only 200,000. Sodankyla’s population is 8,826, which is 0.71 persons per square km. Interestingly enough there are 1.5 reindeer per square km in this same area! Sodankya is hoping to increase it’s population in the near future secondary to the growing mining industry in the area.
The midnight sun is present in Sodankyla from the 31st of May through the 14th of July. Polar night, or Kaamos, is present from December 20-24. Within 23 weeks daylight goes from 0 hours to 24 hours, truly remarkable and currently disturbing the normal sleeping patterns of GSE Team Finland!!! The hours of daylight are increasing by more than on hour each week. In theory it should make the long days a GSE Team experiences easier, right???
The average temperature in January is -14 C and in July +15 C. Permanent snow cover is present from the end of October to the middle of May. Unemployment in the area is 10.2% with the main employers being the municipality and the military brigade followed by commercial shops and restaurants and the mining and forestry industries. Sodankyla is also home to six centers for science and research and many smart scientists!
We visited a silversmith’s shop, Taigakoru, owned by Rotarian Seppo Penttinen. Seppo uses Lapland silver and gold to create traditional and modern jewelry designs. Thank you to Seppo for sharing his remarkable art with our team.
It was another round of fish soup for lunch before we headed to the Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory where we were warmly greeted by Directory Esa Turunen and accompanied by Professor Tauno Turnunen. At this observatory significant research is conducted pertaining to near space, especially Aurora Borealis or the northern lights. Beginning in 1869 Professor Lemstrom had a dream that lead him pursue an explanation of this natural phenomenon. During this time there was no road or bridge to reach this area and visitors would arrive by boat to the area very near Sodankyla. Over 50 Sami homes and a rich Sami culture was present.
To study nature you must conduct research in nature. This require the maintanence of over 40 stations in Finland. This would have not been possible possible without the help of local people who helped the scientists immensely and in their own way making significant contributions to science.
The Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory will celebrate it’s 100-year anniversary this year. Remarkable that a research facility which started while Finland was under Russian rule would still be not only in operation but leading the field today. Over 40 people currently work at the Observatory which operated on a 2-million Euro budget with an addition 3-million Euro coming from external sources. These scientists publish over 40 research articles per year.
The importance of a global network and more collaboration was emphasized to our team. Financing and become increasingly more difficult. The European Union however has pledged 5.5 times more funding to science. One of the exciting new avenues of funding is providing grants to bright, young scientists to pursue cutting-edge research and also by investing in infrastructure to attract the world’s best scientists to Europe.
Esa then gave GSE Team Finland a private tour of the Aurora House. Our team was able to relax as he provided us a unique perspective on the northern lights from a business owned and operated by his wife. Aurora, as the northern lights are affectionately called here, is visible 200 nights per year. In Finland folktales, the fox creates the northern lights… my favorite version was as the fox runs through the forest it’s tail sends snowflakes up towards the moon. The northern lights are created when the moonlight shines through the snowflakes.
Brita and Tauno then treated our team to an amazing dinner complete with Vappu celebratory champagne. We were also able to meet their daughter and grandson. The Turunen’s have been fantastic hosts here in Sodankyla and have made us feel at home. We will never forget the times we have shared together. Thank you both for sharing your Sodankyla with us!
Tomorrow we are packing up again and off to Rovaniemi! Stayed tuned and check back for photos!