The People

Lovely that you came to see who we are! We are a happy crew of scholars, artists and techies.


Burning Stories platform co-lead Dr. Jukka-Pekka Heikkilä from Aalto University is a hands-on scholar who focuses on understanding entrepreneurial and organisational phenomenona in extreme settings. He holds Royal Society Newton Fellowship (UK), Academy of Finland Post-Doc Fellowship, Stanford and Harvard Uni visiting scholar positions. He has been involved with Burning Man since 2013 and recently as a co-creator in Finnish Burning Man projects Koulu The School and Space on Fire. On the other end of extreme settings, Jukka-Pekka has taught entrepreneurship courses and organized science diplomacy events in North Korea 2012 - 2017 and recently launched WTSUP! initiative to foster equality in the Middle East via entrepreneurship education. His work has been published in the Journal of World Business, Environment Planning A, Dance Cult and Journal of Strategic Information Systems. In Burning Stories, Jukka-Pekka aims to bridge the wisdom of academia and the wisdom of the Burner community and co-create new ways of disseminating high-quality research.

Dr. Frank Martela is a philosopher and researcher specialized in meaning in life, happiness, compassion, prosocial behavior, and how to organize in order to unleash human potential and flourishing. During 2012-2014 he was a visiting scholar at the Human Motivation Research Group of University of Rochester, looking at what makes human beings intrinsically motivated to help other people. He is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Aalto University, Finland. Frank is a popular speaker and writer, who has written three books for the general audience in Finland. He is also one of the founders and current chairman of the board of Filosofian Akatemia Oy, a company that specializes in measuring engagement and motivation at work, and consulting organizations on how to improve them. He has published in academic journals such as the Journal of Personality, Journal of Positive Psychology, Metaphilosophy and Organization Studies. He is interested in Burning Man as a place that allows humans to organize in ways that brings out the best in people: Their capacity for self-expression and connecting with others.

Dr. Virva Salmivaara is a postdoctoral researcher at the Entrepreneurship Research Group at Aalto University School of Business in Helsinki, Finland. Having a background in business studies as well as social sciences (communications, social psychology, ethics), her research interests focus on understanding the discourses, changes and challenges in societies at large, and the role of entrepreneurship as an element of wider societal contexts. In her doctoral thesis she explored the legitimacy of entrepreneurship in sustainable development debates, and currently she works with projects that, for instance, assess the ways through which migrants/refugees can engage in entrepreneurship. Virva has been involved in the Burning Stories project since early 2018, and she has become deeply enthusiastic about the experiences of the Burners since carrying out interviews within the Finnish community. Virva is part of studying the Space on Fire project.

Dr. Elina Koivisto has her PhD from Aalto University School of Business, Finland. Elina is specialized in branding and customer experience in creative contexts. Within Burning Man community, she has been one of the co-creators of Koulu School and Space on Fire projects. Elina´s interest is on Burning Man & brand discussion.

Dr. Ewald Kibler is an Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Aalto University Business School and holds an Academy of Finland Fellowship position. Ewald’s research is pronouncedly multi-disciplinary, applying theories from psychology, sociology, and geography. His research has been published in outlets such as the Journal of Business Venturing, Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, Harvard Business Review, Journal of Economic Geography, and Environment & Planning A. He collaborates with policy-makers and practitioners, including advising the OECD, the European Commission and Eurostat on entrepreneurship matters. Ewald’s passion for commenting the research, as a non-burner, on the Burning Man community relates to the importance of developing our understanding of how communities evolve, organize themselves and help people contribute to their own and societal wellbeing.

Dr.Farah Kodeih is an Associate Professor of Strategy at IESEG School of Management, and a visiting professor at Aalto University School of Business. Her current research investigates how social ventures and non-governmental organizations support marginalized individuals including refugees and migrants through entrepreneurship and technology. The research examines structures and practices that create social value by supporting the integration of vulnerable and marginalized individuals into mainstream societies.

Dr. Terje Toomistu from University of Tartu, Department of Ethnology. She holds MA degrees (cum laude) in Ethnology and in Communication Studies from University of Tartu. In 2013-2014, she was a Fulbright fellow at the University of California Berkeley, US., and in 2017-2018 a visiting researcher at the University of Amsterdam, Department of Anthropology. Her current main areas of research are Indonesian gender and sexuality and the sub-cultural youth movements in late Soviet-era. She is also a documentary filmmaker with a filmography including Wariazone (2011), Archeology of Ayahuasca (2016) and her most recent award-winning Soviet Hippies (2017) featured in The Guardian. Terje is part of Border Stories initiative, reflecting on the gathered stories, the project and the Burning Man as a phenomenological experience anthropologically, following her special fields of interest in subcultural movements, subjectivity and life stories.

Emilia Lahti (, MAPP) is a Finnish peace activist and doctoral candidate at Aalto University School of Science and Technology. She is passionate about action research, social justice, and furthering research that combines science with spirituality to create practical solutions for increasing collective awareness of the interconnected nature of all life. The heart of her work is in understanding and describing the elusive and vital phenomenon of ‘life force’. She is the founder of Sisu Not Silence – a global nonprofit building futures free of violence. Emilia believes it is our sacred collective call to create socially warm, inviting opportunities that enable people to reach their truest high expression. To her, Burning Man represents a safe space to foster what humans already do well (creativity, community building, connection and so on), while offering a chance for deep introspection that can help remove the barriers that stand the way of fuller compassion, grace and love. More About Emilia at

Karoliina Jarenko, (M. Sc.: phil.) is a well known expert on self-organising, a keynote speaker and a former CEO of who is now finishing her PhD on communicative planning, self-organization and the transforming justification of “common good”. Last article of her dissertation explores planning processes and urban self-organization in Black Rock City and Borderland (the Nordic Burning Man event). Hands-on doer who works closely with Frank and other very bright people to transform organisations in Finland. More at

Techies & comms

Hugi Asgeirsson creates software tools and methods for creative and decentralized communities and leads projects in social innovation and community building. He is on the board of The Borderland, co-founder of Urban Burn, Director of Edgeryders Participio development lab and Edgeryders Nordic unit. Hugi is also part of the Border Stories initiative. Hugi is also the magic man behind the forum.

Kimmo Nurmisto is a technology-driven consultant and an entrepreneur. His experience includes business consulting, innovation, and growth leadership in startups and corporate environments. He has a proven track record of project success leading digital initiatives for major brands and public companies. Kimmo holds a Master of Science in Communications Technology from the Helsinki University of Technology. He has developed a deep understanding of distributed ledger technologies, and machine learning through projects and advanced academic studies. He leverages his skillset and creative thinking to generate mechanisms for rapid and sustainable growth.

Peter Tapio is a product developer and maker at heart, with strong experience of practical development projects in an academic setting. He has a long history with Aalto University and has participated globally in events to teach and learn creative methods and product development. Peter is also an entrepreneur involved in several startups in a technical or strategic role. He took his passion for building new things to the next level by participating in art projects that allow for creative use of technology and is currently engaged in projects at University of Turku and CERN. Peter has been a co-creator, organiser and techie in projects, Pike, Koulu The School and Space on Fire that were brought to Burning Man from Finland 2015-2017. Peter is providing technical resources for the Burning Stories research project.

Elien Blue Becque is a New York City-based creative strategist and entrepreneur. In 2015 she founded RoomZoom, a platform that matches potential roommates using an algorithm she developed to determine compatibility. Her previous roles as an editor of long form nonfiction at Vanity Fair magazine and as an editorial staff member at Rolling Stone and New York Magazine immersed her in creative spaces where ideas are currency and narrative is the main event. Furthermore, each piqued her interest in studying how technology will continually change modes of narrative dissemination. Elien is passionately interested in using technology to bring people closer to their humanity and to each other and is acutely aware of the fine line upon which this endeavor often balances. She considers her work, essentially, to always be nudging humans and technology in the direction of collective, positive change. Elien is supporting Burning Stories with her journalistic touch for writing and editing our non-scientific outputs and future postings.

Panu Rekola is Helsinki based UI & UX designer. Before transitioning more towards product and service design Panu worked over ten years on digital marketing agencies as a designer and art director to create campaigns and websites both on consumer and business customers. Developing brand aesthetics and storytelling is close to his heart whether it's usability or videos or more. Besides doing daily work as a designer his long time passion is electronic music scene where he has been part of several long running commercial club events as well as in recent years communal and participatory events and productions. At Burning Stories, Panu is dedicated in creating more artistic visualizations for our projects, to support the dissemination of our science-art work further.


Kalle Oja is a carpenter-artist, who was the building lead in Space on Fire and has done installations for Helsinki Decompression. He works frequently with contemporary art museums in and around the Helsinki area. He recently worked with on an installation in Finnish Modern Museum Kiasma by the NY based Icelandic artist Shoplifter, see the piece here. In 2019 spring he was in involved in Venice Biennale, co-creating the Icelandic Pavilion by Shoplifter. Kalle gets inspired by blending traditional structures with arts and working with cross-disciplinary projects. Border Stories Story Sharing cubes are brought to you by this guy!

Mikko Heikinpoika is a vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and music producer from Finland. He is part of the new wave of live musicians who strive to create powerful performance experiences through merging the worlds of acoustic and electronic, integrating ancient vocal techniques, live looping, grounded rhythms and deep, heartfelt bass frequencies. Supported by strong Nordic and Siberian roots, embracing the Planet and it’s tribes, he reaches for to create an experience that aims to offer the possibility of a gateway into an altered state of being. Mikko is studying in the Global Music program of Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, Finland where he is currently working on his Bachelor project. The themes of the project are transformation, authentic inspiration, flow, creativity and the origins and source of the mentioned phenomena, and how they manifest through our individual and cultural algorithmic compositions. The Story Sharing Cubes have provided recordings, where people verbalise and express their experiences and deep processes. Mikko's plan is to weave this material in the music production part of his Bachelor project. Check out more from here.

Mikko Heikinpoika, live @ Black Box, Musiikkitalo 2019
Mikko Heikinpoika, live @ Boom Festival 2018

Vincent Lauenstein is a visual artist and mindset innovator based in Berlin. As an artist he is known as Wolf and Bird specialized in live video art and projection mapping, traveling the world for immersive performances, most recently in cooperation with the musician Satori. With an interdisciplinary background, he is also working as a new work consultant with TheDive, where he is applying his experience and knowledge in the fields of Design Thinking, Integral Theory and Non-Violent-Communication to facilitate change processes for his global clients, mostly around culture change and self-organization.

In the Burning Man Community he has contributed creative spaces and visual art at burns such as Afrikaburn, the Borderland and Burning Bär. Traversing the worlds of business and art already, being part of Burning Stories is now allowing him to contribute to bringing the worlds of science and art closer together as well. Vincent is contributing the visual art design for Aalto University seminar 2020.

Wolf and Bird:

Hilda Ruijs is a singer-songwriter and service designer from the Netherlands. Her mission is to co-create healthy human societies that are planet centric and ams to fulfill this through service design, one challenge at a time. She loves to explore questions like: 'What could healthy societies look like?' and 'How do transformation on personal and societal level relate to each other?'

She oscillates between the abstract concept of transformation and concrete outcomes like storytelling, music and design artefacts. In her masters thesis at Aalto University Hilda aims to contribute to the redesign of the piloted Story Sharing cubes, a narrative data collecting device that collects stories in situ at the events. Her focus lies on the interaction between the user and design artefact which invites a magical sharing of personal transformation. Her preferred weaponry is: wonder, empathy and an unlimited source of (crazy) ideas!''which inspires her music found from here.

You can reach out us via individual websites or contact(at)