St Urho 2021: Survival Mode

January 20, 2021

It’s been almost a year since St. Urho took to the woods to escape the pandemic. It’s time for him to come out and restock the essentials. Toilet paper, aluminum foil, yeast, and hand sanitizer to name a few.

How did you survive?

Were you creative? A house for every bird in the yard!

Handy? Put a faucet in every room!

Just a bit lazy? Who notices 20 pounds!

However you’ve survived, we want to know.

Join us for the St. Urho’s Day Parade on Saturday March 20th as we socially distance ourselves down Highway 1 in Finland MN at 12:00 noon.

Parade floats and crews should gather at the County garage around 11 to line up and get ready.

We ask that you wear masks and keep your group small as to keep everyone safe so we can be together again next year.

So let’s get together and save our toilet paper and our grapes from those evil grasshoppers. We all know they hoarded the supplies others needed to survive.

We fully understand the world isn’t out of the woods yet and that’s why we ask you be safe.

Should we need to cancel at the last minute we will try to let everyone know.

Please contact Cheri Bischoff, parade marshal, to participate in the parade at the following:

5841 Lax Lake Road

Silver Bay, MN 55614

(218) 220-9947 Call or text

(218)353-7743 Home

Light in the Dark

January 1, 2021

2020 has been a lot of hard work to adapt to ever changing circumstances. I have struggled personally. I have watched all of the staff struggle individually. We have struggled together. We have watched our community struggle while we all feel cut off from each other in so many ways.

It feels like it took a lot of struggle and floundering and trying and stopping and starting, but we are adapting. Sometimes it’s easy to adapt and sometimes it’s slow and painful. But we’re doing it. You are doing it. We’re doing it together, even if we are apart.

All the way, I have been inspired by the creativity and sisu and humor of the people who I work with and who make up our community. I love you all and I don’t feel like I would have gotten through the last year without the fine folks I get to work with or without knowing that you community folks are all out there trying hard to make sense of 2020 alongside of us.

It was creativity and adaptability and sisu that allowed us to pull off the biggest Finland Farmers Market season ever this past summer, or a safe Camp Finland for the kids, or our partnership with AEOA and Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank for food distributions that have given away over 40,000 pounds of food since July. More adaptability and sisu show in the work of the Finland Community Nature Childcare, a project Friends of Finland has been fiscally sponsoring and which is about to take off on their own and open a nonprofit childcare center. Adaptability and creativity have driven our work with Lake County Health and Human Services, who have helped us get funding through the CARES Act for better internet and audiovisual equipment to meet community needs for telehealth and other important connections. It was adaptability that sparked our partnership with North Shore Area Partners, the United Protestant Church in Silver Bay, and the Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging to put out three free curbside meals this fall: Sisu Stew (100 meals), Thanksgiving Dinner (150 meals), and the Yuletide Feast (170 meals), and community creativity and sisu added artwork and, for the Yuletide Feast, pies by the Baptism River Community Church. Community creativity and adaptability showed through again with our partnership with the Finland Historical Society (FMHS) to do an online video version of their Pikka Joulu (Finnish Christmas) event that used to always take place at the Clair Nelson Center. FMHS used to always partner with the Youth Program so that the kids could meet Joulupukki (Finnish Santa), learn about Finnish traditions, and sing songs with the elders, so this year, instead, they made up bags of treats and we mailed them to youth program kids to try to keep that community connection.

Community connections, that’s what we are going for. Through all of our work this year, we have really appreciated hearing from many of you community members telling us what you need, and letting us know that our work is helping, even just in some small way. We want to help, and we all need to stay connected through this dark time. It helps us, the staff at the Clair Nelson Center, to stay connected with all of you, and we hope that our work is helping you feel a little more connected and less isolated too. We’re going to get through this, together.

We’re going to need even more creativity, adaptability and sisu in 2021. Obviously, we hope to be able to gather in person once again and restart many of the activities at the Center that we previously hosted there before COVID-19. Until we can do that, we plan to keep on adapting to meet needs as much as we can.

If you have the means, and you appreciate our work, donations help. Any size gift is appreciated. Donate here:

We know a lot of folks are stretched for funds right now, so if that’s the case, please take care of yourselves and your families first. We will hang in there. Sisu, dammit!

With gratitude and hope,

Honor and the staff at the Clair Nelson Center

Update from the Friends of Finland Board: Welcome New Board Members!

January 1, 2021

The Friends of Finland board just welcomed a number of new members whose terms will begin in January 2021. Continuing board members Lori Walewski (Chair), Lise Abazs (Treasurer), Danielle Hefferan (Secretary), and Greg Hanson set out to recruit and attract a good array of new folks who will be representing the diverse aspects of our community.

Everyone in our area uses the Clair Nelson Community Center and benefits from Friends of Finland’s work and we want to hear more voices as we fulfill our mission to help make Finland and its surrounding area an inviting and vibrant place.

New board members are Kathy Chumley, Randy Duke, Dominic Lehtinen, Kathy Johnson, Kurt Mead, and Terry Miller. All are talented folks who have been active in activities and groups that happen at the Center and we are excited to welcome them to the Friends of Finland Board!

For more information about the role of the Friends of the Finland Board: 

For more information about Friends of Finland’s mission, history, structure, and current activities:

The Finland Community Nature Childcare is Very Close to Opening!

January 1, 2021

You may have heard already that the Finland Community Nature Childcare has been working with Lake County to
acquire a lease for the currently unused County Forestry House, located right in Finland, between the DNR  building and the Fire Hall, on the north side of Highway 1.

Friends of Finland has incubated this project from an idea proposed at meetings, to the hard work of the project champions Elli King and Randall Walz, as it has grown to become a committee of interested folks who will now become a Board of Directors for the childcare as it spins off into its own nonprofit organization.

One of the most beautiful things to watch with this project has been the support from the community as it has slowly become a reality. Funding from the Lloyd K Johnson Foundation, the Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, the support of Crystal Bay Township and Lake County, as well as private donations, are a huge part of making this thing happen, but the support and input from families and community members has been vital as well.

Working together is powerful! Way to go Finland Community Nature Childcare! We wish you success.

Opening date is yet to be determined, but the group is hoping for March of 2021.

Contact Childcare Director Elli King for more information and/or to be put on a list for an application for
childcare for your kids –


Friends of Finland/Clair Nelson Center COVID-19 Building Usage Policy

January 1, 2021

Updated December 31, 2020

Current situation – Due to the current shutdown, all indoor activities at the Clair Nelson Center are suspended, except for staff work and individual telehealth appointments.

General Remarks – To minimize potential exposure of community members, only one activity shall be happening indoors at the Center at any given time with no overlaps. Each group/activity/program must have a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan on file with the Operations Lead before beginning activities. The group’s COVID-19 Preparedness Plan shall outline what they will do to minimize contact and potential exposure between individuals participating in the group activities. Each Plan shall touch on handwashing, clean-up and sanitation of surfaces and/or equipment, distancing, and how they will enforce the mask mandate within their group. We may require Waivers of Liability for certain activities as requested by our insurance company. 

Youth Activities – Official and prescheduled youth activities will be allowed as soon as the shutdown is over and will have first priority for building usage. Youth Night was previously Thursday evenings from 6-9pm, with some time beforehand for set up of activities. Youth craft activities will, for the most part, utilize this time slot. Other activities will not be scheduled for this time slot. 

Kitchen – Kitchen rentals are currently allowed as long as proper COVID-19 hygiene protocols (as well as all the normal ones) are observed. Rentals must be scheduled with the Building Manager/Operations Lead. Kitchen rentals are the ONLY rentals allowed at this time.

Meetings – We are considering allowing use of the meeting rooms for community organizations and groups such as AA who have a demonstrable need for meeting space tentatively starting April 1st. Meetings shall adhere to the MN Dept of Health recommendations of 10 or fewer people.

Gym Activities – General gym activities are not allowed at this time. We are considering allowing limited gym activities tentatively starting May 1st, again, with a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan (see above, General Remarks).

Rentals and Social Events – are not allowed at this time. We are tentatively considering allowing limited rental activities starting June 1st, again, with a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan (see above, General Remarks).

All of the above are subject to change based on recommendations of the MN Department of Health and Governor Walz’s Executive Orders. The most likely outcome is the timeline for reopening being pushed back.