Why this blog? Why now?
When I was about 4 years old my older cousin of two years told me I was an American. He must have learned it that day in school. Being a good older cousin he taught me everything he learned therefore I learned to read, write, multiply and tie my shoes before most my age. So here we are, sitting on the bottom bench in the sauna one evening and he tells me I am an American. I disagreed. I told him I was a Finlander. Many years later I realize we were both right.
I am a Finnish-American.
The idea for this blog came to me halfway through producing my latest documentary “Co-operatively Yours”, as I was planning my trip to Finland to interview historians on Finnish-American cooperatives. At first I wanted to produce a short film about my personal experience being a Finnish-American, what that means and what I was currently learning about my heritage mixed in with my first trip to Finland and Finland’s centennial. I wasn’t sure how to go about creating one storyline with all those ideas. Then it dawned on me to create a series of short videos instead. Then I didn’t have time to start it. Until now.
My name is Kristin Ojaniemi. My great-grandparents immigrated to the United States from Finland in the early 1900's, making me 100% Finnish. Other family names include Nurmi, Haataja and Kreeka (Anderson as it was changed to in the U.S.). I grew up in the very Finnish-American community of Bruce Crossing, Michigan. Actually Paynesville but there hasn't been an actual town of Paynesville in decades. Paynesville is still my home, living near the farm my Great-Grandfather John Ojaniemi settled.
My passion is visual storytelling. After completing two feature length documentaries all I want in life is to make more. My full time job is producing commercials and promotions for an NBC affiliate in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. I also teach a digital video course part time at Nicolet College. Other hobbies include golfing, hiking, bear hunting, reading and watching films. Plus spending time with my boyfriend, family, and friends and snuggling with my dogs.
This blog is meant to serve the Finnish-American community and enlighten the rest of the world about Finnish-American culture, history, people and places. Through fun and engaging short video and multimedia stories I will show why we Finnish-Americans are so proud of our heritage and culture.
Most of all this blog is a personal journey for me. As I was producing “Co-operatively Yours” I realized how little I know about my own heritage and Finnish-American history. Where did that 4 year old girl go who was so adamant she was a Finlander? Maybe she has always been there? I decided it is now a mission in my life to learn as much as I can and share it with the rest of the world.
This year I traveled to Finland, went to my first FinnFest and met many good Finns and Finnish-Americans. I have called myself a “bad Finn” because of how little I know. I focused on other things growing up and now I’m ready to learn. The “good Finns” immerse themselves in the culture and activities on a regular basis. They attend Heikinpäivä every year, celebrate Juhannus, or know how to make pannukakku and juustoa. If you aren’t a Finn and have no idea what that last sentence meant, follow me on this journey as I try to become a “good Finn”. I know I have enough sisu to do it.
I have a whole notes list in my cell phone of videos and story ideas I want to share with you. I apologize this first blog wasn’t a video blog. I plan for most of them to be. You will find out soon why I was in a hurry to get the website published today!
Kristin Ojaniemi is a Finnish-American filmmaker, video creator and proud Yooper full of sisu.