Greener Grass – Stories of immigration for today

On February 5, 2013
Betty in front of her church, Iron River, 2010.

Betty in front of her church, Iron River, 2010.

Cross-Atlantic ocean travel, 2010.

Cross-Atlantic ocean travel, 2010.

Eric, Washington D.C, 2010.

Eric, Washington D.C, 2010.

How to become..., Ellis Island, 2010.

How to become..., Ellis Island, 2010.

Cross-Atlantic ocean travel, 2010.

Cross-Atlantic ocean travel, 2010.

Marilyn's license plate, Philadelphia, 2010.

Marilyn's license plate, Philadelphia, 2010.

Harvey, Cokato, 2010.

Harvey, Cokato, 2010.

Tessa at her yard, Washington D.C, 2010.

Tessa at her yard, Washington D.C, 2010.

Project website: http://www.greenergrass.info

Greener Grass, video, dur 00:18:18, 2011 (View short example here.)
Portraits of Finnish immigrants, photography series, 25 pieces, 2010

Greener Grass is a documentary of a cross-Atlantic sea travel following the historical Finnish immigration routes to US and interviews of Finnish-Americans in many generations. Can we learn from history to meet the challenges of today’s immigration?

My family is from the part of Finland (Northern Ostrobothnia) from where many left to North America in hope for better life. Immigration was very common in the end of 19th century and the beginning of 20th century, about 300 000 Finnish people emigrated. People went to work in mines, established farms, some were ashamed about their immigrant background and some kept the “old culture” alive. I travelled by a freighter to United States and followed the footsteps of the Finnish immigrants. Like all the immigrants, they were were looking for good life. They were environmental refugees (hunger due to small crops, lack of farming land) and political refugees (Russia wanted to Russianise Finland). What has happened to them and their offspring? How they integrated? What does their offspring think about immigration? And how does a location shape one’s identity?

To find answers to these questions, I interviewed&photographed 25 people and met several more friendly Finnish-Americans. The interviewed people were immigrants of over many generations as well as people who had moved to US themselves.  They were living in Pennsylvania, Washington D.C, New York, Michigan and Minnesota.

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