The Grant and Administrative Coordinator Kristiina Takkinen: “if you want to change an entire unsustainable culture, change must start with values”

Kristiina nojaa puuhun ja katsoo kameraan

Administrative Secretary Kristiina Takkinen joined the office of Nessling Foundation in 2021 to fill in for our Office Manager Paula Eriksson who was on parental leave and later continued as the Grant and Administrative Coordinator. But who is Kristiina and how did she end up at Nessling? And what is her best dumpster diving find? Let’s find out.

Kristiina, who are you?

“I am a 37-year-old Master of Arts and Bachelor of Business Administration, and a nature lover.

I graduated as a Bachelor of Business Administration in 2011, and because I had also previously studied to become a tailor, I was interested in sustainability in the clothing sector. Then I found out that there is a discipline called folkloristics. I have always loved stories and strongly experienced their significance. Stories also have an enormous power as they influence the way we see the world and reflect our values and thus guide our actions. I graduated a year ago from the Master’s Programme in Cultural Heritage with folkloristics as my main subject.”

What does ecological thinking mean to you?

“When I was 9 or 10 years old, a black and white pamphlet was put up on the library wall that encouraged people to boycott a well-known shaving supply manufacturer for using animal testing. That’s the first time I remember realising the fact that animals and nature can be exploited in a cruel manner.

Later I became aware of consumer criticism and resource awareness. I have lived a consciously defiant life: at some point, for example, I tried to live mainly with the surplus that our civilisation produces. I dumpster dived and never had a shortage of anything. Once after Christmas, I found a huge box of Mars chocolate advent calendars that proved to be a long-lasting treat. In the 21st century, these matters weren’t such a hot topic yet, and I felt like my lifestyle was only marginal activity.

In my own life, nature and animals have become a strong theme because I’ve felt like they don’t have very many that would stand up for them. Of course, at the same time, I must say that nature and environmental matters often overlap with human rights issues, especially with the rights of indigenous peoples. I strongly feel the connection with all living creatures.

I have been actively a part of Vihreä elämänsuojelun liitto ry and Elonkehä magazine. I believe that if you want to change an entire unsustainable culture, change must start with values.”

What kind of change are we talking about?

“Often the things that we need for a good life are mental and social – I am now speaking on the behalf of us whose basic needs have been met. I have experienced a lot of anxiety and depression in regard to the environment, especially when I experienced a deep ecological awakening. We need creative experiments and solutions! A person can always learn new things. There is no limit to your intellectual side.

I wrote my Master’s thesis on the worldview of Finnish survivalists and learned that many survivalists open-mindedly tested traditional lifestyles starting from self-sufficiency – and they also conducted new and unparalleled experiments. Perhaps a little surprisingly, many survivalists have very life-centred values: there is an underlying awareness of risks and dependencies, many of which are linked to our unsustainable way of life. Therefore, we could say that environmental protection is the best form of survivalism there is.”

Let’s talk about your work at the Foundation. What intrigues you in administrative work?

“Administrative work truly is my thing! I love management and maintenance – the feeling when everything is in order. This job is a fun combination of my set of skills and interests.

Many consider administrative matters a remote and difficult bureaucracy, and it can be difficult for a grantee to handle them alongside all other work. I want to help to relieve the pain of administrative matters. I also encourage people to turn their thoughts on their head and take advantage of administrative measures; for example, reporting and budgeting are excellent tools in mapping out and monitoring your project. Therefore, these should be considered primarily as tools for your own project, and not just as mandatory reporting for others.

I believe that doing administrative work well and professionally will enable projects to succeed. The Foundation’s goal of promoting research for a sustainable future and implementing research knowledge to society wouldn’t be possible without administrative work. After all, someone has to administer the grants and keep everything in order.”

How have you felt working at Nessling Foundation are what are you looking forward to?

“I have been very warmly welcomed here. I spent the first month and a half working with Office Manager Paula Eriksson who personally showed me the ropes. It was lovely to work with and get to know Paula – I felt like we were in tune with each other. On the other hand, it was nice to be in charge and to know that Paula can go on a well-deserved holiday and continue to parental leave and a new life. I want to keep everything in control for her as well!

I am expecting the year to be very interesting. At the Foundation, the year cycle dictates many jobs and tasks, and it’s exciting to get involved in the next round of grants. For next year, I am looking forward to the Puistokatu 4 project and the 50th anniversary of the Nessling Foundation – I’m grateful to be a part of it!”