Proposed location: Helsinki, Finland

Proposed location: Helsinki

Why is ___________ [name of suggested city] a great place to host Ethereum events?

Finland is politically stable EU country with an incredible history of open-source yet its part of a surprisingly untapped region of countries ripe for crypto advocation and community fostering. With the the support of multiple members of the current Nordic and Finnish crypto community, I am writing this proposal to suggest one of the next Ethereum events to be hosted in Helsinki, Finland.

Country and Entry

1. What are the visa restrictions for the country?

Finland is part of the European Union, so visa restrictions are largely harmonized as to the rest of the Schengen-region.

2. How easy is the international access?

Despite its northern location, Finland is exceptionally accessible due to well-established flight connections. Helsinki Airport serves as a major hub for global air travel both from western countries and Asia. Finland is easily reachable from virtually anywhere in the world.

3. What about the safety and political stability of the region?

The safety of Helsinki, both perceived and statistical, is one of the highest rates in the world. Finland is #1 the most stable country in the world, 14th year in a row, according to Fund for Peace, Fragile States Index. You can read more here.

In general the region is incredibly safe - Finland is one of the most neutral countries in the world, and does not partake in conflicts. It is part of the European Union as well as NATO and thus has multiple levels of deterrence for any possible conflict.

Politically Finland is a Social Democracy that has been independent for over 100 years, with high transparency and low corruption.

Additionally, everyone in Finland speak English at a very good level, and Helsinki is a very welcoming city for people from all over the world.

4. How expensive are venue rentals, accommodation, food, and transport?

5k+ venue >100k

500-1000 person venues ~5k - 10k

Under 500 pax ~2k

Hotel Accommodation is around 150-200€ per night.

Hostel can be around 50€ per night.

Average European capital city prices.

Food itself is not that expensive, especially compared to scandinavian countries. Lunch prices stay reasonable (13-15€), but dinner at a restaurant can get a bit higher (20€+) especially if alcohol is involved (taxed at a higher rate)

A single public transport ticket valid for 2 hours is 3€ and gets you anywhere.

5. When is the climate the best?

In the summer months - May, June, July, August. Incredible weather, all round sunny (June can have days of 20 hours sunlight in Helsinki). Also possible to continue north, to experience midsummer and the nightless nights.

However, it can also be nice in the early spring February, March etc. as there is snow, its sunny and most events will be inside anyways. People could enjoy this as well as they could continue their journeys to the north to experience lapland (common area of sweden, norway, finland) afterwards.

City and Venue

1. How easy is the transportation in the city (between venues, airport, etc.)?

Public transport in Helsinki is one of the best: Trams easily move you across the central parts of the city, metro moves you fast from edge to edge, and buses can take you even further away. For example, the regional train and the tram has its own stop at the Messukeskus Helsinki, an Expo and Convention Centre. The train also goes from the airport to the center of Helsinki. Everyone there uses public transport on a daily basis.

The city is also very walkable, and has a city bike system and biking lanes which cross the city in a very approachable way. Some more information here: Cycling routes | City of Helsinki

Additionally transportation services such as Uber and Bolt are prevalent in the city, and work as everywhere else. Non-app taxis are also widely available at taxi stops across the city, usually located near public transport exits.

2. Are there modern venues (WiFi/Maneuverability/Catering)?

Yes, Helsinki is a modern city, and most facilities, infrastructure, and services are equipped with the latest technology, as well as holding onto high accessibility and quality standards.

3. Are there venues with the capacity to host between 5-10k+ people?

Yes - For example Messukeskus Helsinki, an Expo and Convention Centre. https://slush.org/ is hosted there every year and hosts around 10k+ attendees each time. It’s one of the largest startup conferences in Europe and has a large volunteer community organizing it each year. I used to help organize the event, and still know the organizers and alumni very well. I bet we could utilize learnings from their event in organizing this one, and reach the same praise they have gotten each year.

For large side-events there are also a host of other venues that come to mind, some examples:

  • Dipoli, the conference venue of Aalto University, also the location of Junction Hackathon the largest hackathon in Europe (>1500 ppl).
  • Hotel Rantapuisto, a unique seaside hotel on an island accessible via car
  • Multiple hotels such as Hilton, Radisson etc. that are all seaside and have nice conference venues.

4. What are attractions in or around the city, and how close are they to the venue?

The attractions depend a lot on what you are looking for, and Helsinki is such a well designed city so that everything is accessible. For example the city center itself has beautiful architecture, with churches, squares etc, while around the city you have islands, waterfronts, and other nature, all easily accessible via public transport. Some other notable tourist attractions are:

  • Suomenlinna, old sea-fortress on an island.

  • Nuuksio, a national park

  • Temppelinaukion Kirkko, a church inside a rock/cave in the center of town

  • Tuomion Kirkko, a church at the central square

  • Ateneum, National Museum for Finnish art

  • Kiasma, Museum for Contemporary Art

The abundance of saunas is the unique aspect of Finland. With approximately 5.5 million people residing in the country, there are over 3 million saunas. Saunas are deeply rooted within Finnish culture and heritage, and there are many public saunas to experience this, for example:

  • Somppasauna, completely community-run 24/7 free sauna
  • Löyly, high-profile sauna by the sea with beautiful architecture
  • Kulttuurisauna, a japan-finland fusion sauna where talking is not permitted

The below satellite image shows the central capital, giving you an idea of the amount of greenery and waterfront access. You can walk from any point on this map to another within one hour.

Ethereum Community and Impact

1. How does the Ethereum community look like in this region (e.g.: existing large community/ small but growing rapidly, etc.)?

In Finland itself, the community is small but tight. Finnish people have been in the scene since the original Bitcoin times, for example Martti Malmi who was recently in the news and shared his emails with Satoshi. There are also some OG Ethereum DefFi people, for example the founder of AAVE, Stani. Stani in general has been a proponent for years to have more activity in Helsinki - for example organizing rAAVE in Helsinki in 2021. Now, a new generation of builders is growing, us at Equilibrium, Membrane Finance, Token Terminal, Phaver etc. are all growing strongly.

On the Nordics level, you also have Denmark, with a strong ethereum meetup for years now. For example Rune from MakerDao is very active there. Also, Norway, with Dune having a large part of the founders and early team from there.

2. What is the potential of Ethereum to have an impact in that region?

Government collaboration - Some of the most nimble and tech-first governments exist in the Nordics. As we push for more wide-spread use cases from blockchains and cryptography, government collaborations can become quite essential, especially with the democratic governments in the nordics. Examples:

  • The DIAS project from few years ago.
  • DAO friendly corporate law
  • National Innovation Fund focuses on web3 - link
    • An example - National Gallery hosted in 3D space, with local artists making NFTs

Harnessing the power of nordic innovation for Crypto - The nordics is a unique case of open source innovation and tech talent compared to its small population. If you look at the history of even just Finnish open source contributions - it is quite extraordinary: Jarkko Oikarinen created IRC, Linus Torvalds developed Linux and Git, Tatu Ylönen designed SSH, and Monty Widenius developed MySQL (not to forget Swedish co-author David Axmark).

How is it that such a tiny country has developed so much of the underlying tech that kickstarted the internet and the OSS movement? Why has the same not really happened with crypto? Maybe it has something to do with the with the people in the region being quite pragmatic - they want to know what they are tinkering on - and most importantly, they hate noise. We need to help them see past the noise of memecoins et al on twitter, and have an engineering-focused event in the region.

3. Which event would be ideal here? (i.e. Devcon, Devconnect, or another type of Ethereum community event)

ETH Community event 2 - 3 days, ~500 pax Budget 10-30k, arrangable in 6 months

Devconnect event 5 - 7 days, 1000 ~pax (main venue), budget 100k+, arrangeable in 10 months

Devcon event 7+ days, 5000+ pax (main venue), budget 200k+, requires 12-14 months lead time

We could start with just ETHHelsinki, or ETHNordics, before approaching a larger venue for 5k+ attendees. Especially as those venues would need pre-paying / booking the venue probably >10 months ahead of time.

  1. How is hosting events in that city benefiting the Ethereum ecosystem?

Helsinki and the rest of the Nordics are some of the most tech-forward and entrepreneurial people out there per capita. Spreading the word of Ethereum to that community might enable incredible things to happen.

Helsinki also serves as a unique crossing spot between Scandinavia and the Baltics due to its great ferry connectivity to both Estonia and Sweden. It’s very common from people from the Baltics to come to Helsinki, and similarly the direct ferry from Sweden improves access to Finland for Norwegians, Swedes, and the Danish.

So in a sense, an event organized in Helsinki can serve as a central meeting point for communities from over 7 different countries!

Concerns and Downsides

Every location has its pros and cons. It’s important to also consider the potential downsides.

  1. What are possible risks?
  • Local community is strong but not yet large enough, attendance will also need support from the external international ETH community.
  • Event venues can get booked quickly for the year, before an ETH event can be confirmed, we need to already get a “pre-confirmation” and send an initial request for a some dates + venues.
  1. What could be the downsides?
  • Can get expensive. The nordics have some of the highest quality of life, and worker rights, which usually ends up pushing prices up. Finland is the cheapest of the bunch, but can still get expensive.
    • Historically events that support communities like Ethereum have been able to majorly save costs by focusing a lot on volunteering. Finland has a long standing tradition of Talkoot and for example many startup events are built by volunteers and are non-commercial.
  • The population of the region is small. SEA is around 600M ppl. Nordics total is around 30M. Choosing the Nordics definitely requires a different way of looking at impact in a totally new area, focusing on the power of per-person impact, and looking to set an example that can be replicated globally.
    • For example - If liberal social democracies have the highest wellbeing from all countries in the world, does that mean over time countries converge to this model? If so, what are the remaining problems that still exist in these countries? Can we somehow use cryptography and blockchain to solve/ease them?

Additional Information

This post was written by myself as an event organizing, hackathon loving, open source contributing appreciator of the Nordics, and does not directly reflect the opinion of my employer. However, as a big supporter of crypto in the Nordics, Equilibrium has also shown initial interest in supporting the event.

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Additionally, if you are another crypto-company in the nordics and want to take part, or if you are just a local enthusiast and want to volunteer - please feel free to reach out. My Telegram is @ jommi.

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I agree with the proposal. Local Ethereum event would have a big impact on the Nordic talent and business environment.

I’m personally looking at the topic from the emerging European data economy perspective, which has a further need for influence towards tokenization through protocol networks. Finnish community has a voice in these international discussions.

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Good choice. Finland could be the heart of blockchain innovation because of many reasons.

This would be a great opportunity for the Finnish crypto community and the local association is more than happy to help organize!

Seconding this proposal. I would love to see this happen!

Strongly support this proposal. Second best place in the Nordics to do an Ethereum event only bested by Copenhagen :wink:

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