Nordic Horizons was set up 11 years ago after an accidental meeting between Fife-based journalist and broadcaster Lesley Riddoch and Edinburgh-based health professional Dan Wynn on a train headed for Inverness. Falling into discussion over her recent Scotsman column about Norway, the pair spent the rest of the journey north hatching a new policy group to bring Nordic experts into Scottish life.
Since then, more than sixty speakers have travelled from all five Nordic countries - plus Greenland and the Faroes - to speak at public gatherings (often in the Scottish Parliament) and at private meetings with Scottish civil servants.
Has Nordic Horizons had a bit of a political impact over the last decade? We like to think so.
Tapio Lappi-Seppälä from Finland came to speak around the time the Scottish Government embraced the Finnish community payback model in prison reform.
Professor Jon Kvist from Denmark spoke about the Danish 'flexicurity model' of welfare and was invited to sit on the First Minister's expert group on welfare.
Bjørt Samuelsen from the Faroe Islands and Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson (architect of the EEA 'halfway house') were amongst the speakers at a post Brexit Nordic Horizons event examining how small Nordic nations function within and outwith the European Union. Both met later with Nicola Sturgeon and might have prompted the Scottish Government's announced willingness to consider EEA membership as an option for any post independence Scotland. The event also triggered the book McSmorgasbord - published by Luath press and co-edited by Nordic Horizons Director Lesley Riddoch and the late Paddy Bort.
Those are just a few of the highlights - there are dozens of videos, podcast and audio recordings on our website www.nordichorizons.org
We were lucky to have Scottish Government funding for 5 years from 2015 until 2019 when we took a break for a year, before the Covid lockdown ruled out all face-to-face events. Since then we've had no further funding but members of the small NH steering group have carried the costs of maintaining our web archive of video, audio and information plus three Zoom events on Covid recovery, the Social Democrats’ Nordic advance and our forthcoming event on Nov 29th 2021 - Life after COP26. We also maintain a frisky Nordic Horizons Facebook page and a Twitter account (@NordicHorizons) with items of Nordic news, both with 3000 followers.
Whether Scotland remains devolved or becomes independent, the examples set by our high-achieving Nordic neighbours will be important for us to know more about. So we've decided to ask for public support to keep the Nordic Horizons show on the road.
We want to raise £4k to deliver 4 Nordic Horizons online events in 2022 and a few podcasts, keep the website going, update past content, pay for platforms like Zoom, SoundCloud and YouTube/Vimeo, pay for editing of video and audio material, keep Twitter up-to-date, pay for subscriptions to key Nordic online papers, have a small contingency fund/travel budget and a bit extra to pay crowdfunder.co.uk their cut.
Meanwhile, the work to find speakers, set up meetings and maintain contacts will continue to be done on a voluntary basis by the Nordic Horizons steering group.
Can you help? If everyone from our last year of in-person events gave £10 each - we'd be home and dry. But really, whatever you can manage will be warmly appreciated!