Honoring the memory of Jerry Beltt with a new scholarship fund


Minneapolis Sister Cities Day 2013 (set for 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 14, at the Nicollet Island Pavilion) won’t be the same without our dear friend Jerry Beltt. In recent years the Minneapolis Kuopio Partnership could always count on Jerry to find ways to make our exhibit meaningful. He was a gifted story teller. He always engaged visitors to our Kuopio table with wonderful facts and stories about Finnish heritage and the Finnish American community of Minnesota … of which he was part.

On January 18, Jerry died unexpectedly from cardiac arrest at age 65.

In the months that followed, our Minneapolis Kuopio Partnership committee has been searching for ways we could honor Jerry’s memory, and it was Minneapolis Council Member Lisa Goodman who suggested we create a scholarship fund to encourage and support exchanges between our two sister cities.

We agreed. A scholarship fund in Jerry’s name would be a fitting tribute to a person who so enthusiastically supported our connection to our partner city, Kuopio.

We’re pleased to announce our first event to support this scholarship fund, set for 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 23, at the Mt. Curve home of Sue and Bob Greenberg. The Greenbergs, like so many of us, treasured Jerry’s friendship, and we are so grateful to them for so generously hosting this first event.

We invite you to join us for this special fundraising event, and we are asking for a minimum donation of $25 per person. You can make a tax-deductible donation online through EventBrite (click here), or you can bring your donation to the event. (If you a planning to bring your donation to the event instead of responding through EventBrite, please RSVP to us at mplskuopio@gmail.com to let us know you will be joining us.) Note: Our generous hosts say we can continue to accept RSVPs past the July 17 deadline, so please join us!

The Jerry Beltt Scholarship Fund has been set up through our fiscal agent (Finlandia Foundation,Twin Cities Chapter – a 501(c)3 organization), and your donation will be tax deductible. Your gift will provide much needed funding to support our sister city activities, particularly making it possible for us to offer support for those traveling to Finland to participate in programs that will enhance and strengthen our partnership with Kuopio.

Every year, for example, Kuopio invites Minneapolitans to participate in Finnish language and cultural courses at its Snellman Summer University, and because we are a partner city, these courses are offered tuition free … as well as accommodations, meals and transport in Kuopio. However, the cost of traveling from Minnesota to Kuopio (which participants must cover themselves) is the biggest obstacle for those wanting to take part in this very generous opportunity. The Jerry Beltt Scholarship Fund will make it possible for us to offer travel scholarships to qualified applicants from our city.

This is just one example of how we will leverage your investment in the Jerry Beltt Scholarship Fund.

Our partnership with Kuopio began in 1973, and this August Council Member Goodman and I are leading a delegation of nine people to visit Kuopio to celebrate our 40th anniversary as partner cities. Our community volunteers participating in this trip will certainly meet new friends there and find exciting ways to strengthen our connection in years to come.

Minneapolis’ sister cities relationships are driven by volunteers who care deeply about our city’s connection to a broader global community, and Jerry Beltt was among them. Minneapolis is truly an international city, and we’re excited that our work with Kuopio in Finland can be strengthened, continuing to grow the work loved by Jerry.

If you have any questions about this event or the scholarship fund, please feel free to contact me at karl@karlreichert.com.

Karl Reichert
Chair, Minneapolis Kuopio Partnership

Celebrate Minna Canth Day, March 19

Kuva: V. BarsokevitschKirjailija Minna Canth 50-vuotispäivänään 1894.B 101As part of its 40th anniversary year, the Minneapolis Kuopio Partnership is hosting an “iltapäiväkahvi” or afternoon coffee on the birthday of Minna Canth, one of Finland’s foremost writers, who lived an active intellectual life in Kuopio for nearly 20 years. Her drama and prose writing dealt with controversial themes and radical social ideas. In 2007, her significance as a cultural and historical figure was marked when she became the first woman to have an official flag day named after her and designated as social equality day.  Read more at http://www.kansallisbiografia.fi/english/?id=2816.

Please join us to celebrate

Minna Canth Day
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Iltapäiväkahvi  — š  Afternoon Coffee

425 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, Minn.
(next to Hennepin Ave. Church—parking in adjacent lot)

4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
5:30—brief program

RSVP by March 13 at http://minnacanthday.eventbrite.com.  There is no cost for this event.

For additional information, MplsKuopio@gmail.com or call 651-270-9784.

Remembering Jerry Beltt

On January 18, the Minneapolis Kuopio Partnership lost a most enthusiastic committee member and great friend, Jerry Beltt, who died unexpectedly from cardiac arrest at age 65.

Born into a Finnish immigrant family of seven boys in Cloquet, Minnesota, his heritage was always important to him. He welcomed opportunities to host visitors from Finland, and loved talking about Finland while working at Minneapolis’ Sister City Day. He was also very involved in progressive social and political issues, and enjoyed getting to know the many people he met at various events.

Jerry was a caterer by trade, and was sought after for many, many family events in Minneapolis—birthdays, weddings, bar mitzvahs, holiday parties. He almost always built friendships and remained close to the families in whose lives and events he participated. One of his treasured memories was catering a private dinner for Finland’s new ambassador during her first visit to Minnesota.

A memorial gathering was held for Jerry at his neighborhood community center, where he was active in local issues, and where many recounted how often they greeted and chatted with him when he walked his dog in the area.

Celebrating 40 years of partnership

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Minneapolis and Kuopio as sister cities, and planning for its celebration has begun.

The history of the partnership dates back to June 30, 1972, when Kuopio mayor Eino Luukkonen sent a letter to Minneapolis mayor Charles Stenvig, informing him that the Kuopio Municipal Council had named Minneapolis one of its “friendship towns.”

Over the next few months, conversations took place in Minneapolis about the new Sister City program in the U.S. and the letter from Kuopio. On June 1, 1973, a letter from Minneapolis city clerk Lyall Schwarzkopf invited Kuopio to become an official sister city to Minneapolis, following the Minneapolis City Council decision on May 25. On the history page, read about the projects that have brought the two cities together in the 40 years that have followed.

Following his visit to Minneapolis in November last year, Kuopio mayor Petteri Paronen wrote to members of the Minneapolis Kuopio Partnership committee about “positive and important relationships [that] were set up during our visit.” He continued, “I hope this cooperation between our citizens will continue and strengthen onwards, and we will have many opportunities to learn something new from each other.”

Join the Minneapolis Kuopio Partnership contact list and watch the calendar during the year as events are planned to mark this milestone.

Ameriikan Poijat visits Kuopio

On July 17-18, the Minnesota-based brass septet Ameriikan Poijat visited Kuopio, as part of their three-week Finland tour. They performed at the harbor, as part of Kuopio’s 2012 Art Marketplace festival. Pictured below (left to right): Tracey Gibbens, tuba; Paul Niemisto (director), euphonium; Nathaniel Dickey, tenor; Becky Jyrkas, alto; Denise Pesola, cornet B2; Jari Villanueva, cornet B1, Russ Pesola, cornet.

A Conversation with Teachers from Finland

Thursday, June 14, 2012
5:30 p.m. – Reception to follow

160 Glenwood Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55405

Seating is limited for this lively, free event.

Please RSVP by June 12 by e-mail to MplsKuopio@gmail.com
or by phone to FinnStyle, 612-333-2127.

 What has made Finland a top country for educating its students? Satu Nissi, a primary school teacher and English subject teacher from Kuopio, Finland, will share her experiences in the classroom. Ulla Tervo-Desnick, a native of Finland and elementary school teacher in the St. Paul public schools who returned to Finland to teach for a year, will respond with ideas about translating Finnish learning to classrooms here.

Hear how Kuopio public school teachers work with all students, all skills levels, all social and economic backgrounds. Learn how art, handcraft, music, and athletics assist reading, writing, science, and math education in Kuopio schools.

The Minneapolis-Kuopio Partnership, a sister city relationship for 40 years, and FinnStyle invite you to join the ongoing conversation about education in Finland that has created a buzz among American educators and engaged teachers in new and creative strategies for learning.


Reception to welcome Kuopio mayor

Growing the Minneapolis Kuopio Partnership:
A Welcome Reception for Mayor Petteri Paronen

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

5 to 7 p.m. (Program at 6 p.m.)
Mill City Museum
704 S. 2nd St.
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Click here to order reception tickets for $25.

Minneapolis and its sister city of Kuopio, Finland, share interests and expertise in areas such as biotechnology, education, arts and culture, and the environment.

You are invited to join us as we welcome Kuopio Mayor Petteri Paronen and guests from the University of Eastern Finland to explore our mutual interests and build connections for collaborative projects.

A brief program at 6 p.m. will include welcome remarks from Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. Music provided by Kaivama—Sara Pajunen and Jonathan Rundman.

Hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Minneapolis and Kuopio: Learning from each other

Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Kuopio, Finland, are both regional centers in their countries and are similar in several key aspects. Both are geographically located in a region of lakes and each revels in its long, cold, and snowy winters. Both are also centers of research in fields such as biotechnology and the environment. Residents of both cities share many aspects of Nordic culture—they are health-conscious, sports-loving, and education-minded.

How can Minneapolis and Kuopio learn from each other?

During 2011-12, as the Minneapolis Kuopio Partnership nears its 40th anniversary, a number of initiatives are underway that connect the people and interests of Minneapolis and Kuopio:

  • Collaborating with Kuopio schools to make connections that develop “international classrooms,” bringing schoolchildren together virtually
  • Exchanging information on city government best practices and innovative programs
  • Sharing thinking and concerns about environmental practices
  • Building connections between our cultural arts communities, including Minneapolis’ stellar cultural dance community and the Kuopio Dance Festival, the largest in Europe.

If you are interested in learning more about these events and projects or becoming involved in the Minneapolis Kuopio Partnership, sign up on our contact list, e-mail us at mplskuopio@gmail.com and join us on Facebook at Minneapolis-Kuopio Sister City Organization.