Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Brand New Shiny...

In recent years at Sons of Norway International Conventions the headquarters has put together various commemorative items for delegates. In some years it has take the shape of room keys, post cards and hats. This year, however, we did something a little different.

I'm pleased to show you the official 2010 Sons of Norway International Convention commemorative coin!

Norwegian Experience: Day 1

This morning I had the opportunity to check in with this year’s Norwegian Experience winner, Bruce Johnson. Bruce and his wife, Mary, are currently traversing the North Sea on the MS Balmoral, setting out from Invergordon, Scotland to Stavanger, Norway. As we spoke, Bruce described the coastal views from his patio as the ship traveled through the channel to open waters. How cool is that?

We’re catching up with Bruce and Mary a bit later on their journey. They departed last week and spent a bit of time in London prior to the start of their Fred Olsen cruise that began on Saturday. During their time in London they were able to visit Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and of course, the Tower of London.

Upon beginning their cruise in Dover, the Johnson’s say they were warmly welcomed by the ship’s crew and arrived at their cabin to find a fruit basket, flowers and chilled champagne waiting for them. Bruce says they even received a call from the ship’s captain asking if they would like to steer the ship! Not only has the staff been great, but Bruce says the accommodations throughout the trip have been fantastic, from the international flight to their stay in London and now their stay in the captain’s suite on the MS Balmoral.

After enjoying tours of the canals in Amsterdam and partaking in a Loch Ness Mystery Tour in Scotland, Bruce is eagerly awaiting the beginning of the Norwegian portion of his journey in Stavanger.

So what’s on deck for tomorrow?

Glad you asked! Tomorrow, Bruce will be arriving in Stavanger, Norway, enjoying a boat trip and excursions to the Lysefjord and the Hardangerfjord.

Check back in later this week with more updates from Bruce and more trip details. You can also check out the ship’s progress from Scotland to Norway with a nifty ship locator feature located here.


As you may have seen at the end of my blog post from the 28th, I put out a bounty on one of our good-natured members from D3. Well, leave it to one of our FBC's to have the tenacity needed to find him and bring him in crying like a little girl kicking and screaming. Check out the photo we got of the delivery!

International Board Nominations

Ok, we’re off and running for another day of great governance and excitement. As I type this we are kicking off nominations for your next biennial International Board of Directors.

To start, Dan Rude was nominated for a second term as our International President. Mary Bennet from D5 gave a very nice nomination speech, highlighting Dan’s many qualifications.

After that Erlene Stevenson took the podium to nominate Marit Kristiansen for another term as the International Vice President. Erlene chose to focus on Marit’s energy and positivism as our current VP.

Next up was former D6 President, Janie Kelly. When it was her turn, she took the mic and nominated Audun Gythfeldt for a second term as the International Secretary.

Then, in a surprise move, Lynne Rommesmo nominated Roger Espeland for International Treasurer on a platform of 990 IRS compliance. After that, to make is a real horse-race Mickey Andrew nominated current D2 International Director Bill Fosmoe, pointing out his many previous positions of experience.

Looks like so far the race for International Treasurer is going to be the most hotly debated. Keep checking back as others may decide to throw their hat in the ring!

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Very Poignant Day

As I sit here, NFCA CEO, Joe Annotti, is just finishing up his speech to the delegation. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

So far, today has been very full with a number of speakers and presentations. First we had Scott Ginsberg, aka “The Nametag Guy” speaking about the importance of being approachable. This was great information for lodge members and leaders. I hope we’ll be able to make some of his presentation available for other members and lodges to enjoy.

Then, just before lunch, we were treated to a short presentation by Linda McCormick from Borton Overseas, the Official Travel Partner of the 2010 International Convention. She provided delegates with information about all the wonderful discounts available from Borton to Sons of Norway members.

That brings me to now, after lunch, where Joe Annotti is speaking about the importance of Fraternal Benefit Societies and the importance of running them like a business. His whole speech very entertaining but I think there were two key take-away messages.

The first was that the holy trinity of the fraternal world is governance, relevance and solvency. All equally important, I think.

The second key message was that just because we are non-profits, that doesn’t mean that profits are bad. Quite the contrary, in fact because the more profitable we are, the more good we can do in the communities we serve.

I’m a fraternal guy at heart and think that fraternal programming is important, but Joe’s point is right on. If fraternals don’t behave like businesses and focus on profits, our future is very bleak. Very, very bleak.

That’s why Sons of Norway is placing renewed emphasis on our own holy trinity of fraternalism: Fraternal, Financial and Foundation. These are our three key areas of business and we understand their symbiotic relationship with respect to one another. When speaking about these areas of business, International President, Dan Rude, often uses the analogy of a three-legged stool: without one of the legs the whole stool falls (as would our beloved organization).

Something to think about when you wonder why Sons of Norway sells insurance, or why it has a foundation.

In closing it’s been a very poignant day so far. I’m hoping the rest of the convention is the same. If so, this is going to be the Best. Convention. EVAR!

More to come later!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

International Convention 2010: Opening Ceremonies/President's Reception

Today was a lot of fun!

I've been to a number of District and International Conventions over the years and the day of opening ceremonies is always my favorite. Not because of the pomp and circumstance, nor because of music and speeches (though they are all very nice and rousing).

The reason this is my favorite day is because for many it is a day of reunions for far flung delegates who have built long-lasting relationships through their time at conventions. Typically Sons of Norway members are not a very "huggy" bunch of folks, but every time I'm at a convention for the first day I'm always surprised and warmed by the site of hundreds of old friends coming together once again. There are smiles, hugs, kind words and the all-encompassing embrace of friendship.

This year, that was especially true at the President's Reception. Just take a look at our Flickr page for the proof.

Ok, that's all for now. Enjoy your day and see you tomorrow!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

It's All Happening!

Whew, there's a lot going on right now.

Not only am I spending the next week in Coeur d'Alene, ID providing live coverage of the 2010 International Convention, but the blog will also have some great posts from Viking Editor extraordinaire, Amy Boxrud, AND there will be regular posts covering this year's Norwegian Experience winner's trip to Norway! This blog is going into serious whirling dervish mode and I've been forced to face a very difficult reality.

I am only one person.

Who knew, right?

So, with that, I've asked for some additional help from my colleague, Melissa. She's been gracious enough to pick up the Norwegian Experience blog posts for me in my absence. For those of you who may not remember, Melissa joined the team a while backk and has regretted it ever since been a great member of the team. Be sure to leave her some nice comments!

As you can see, there's a lot going on here at ye olde Sons of Norway blog. I hope everyone is ready for the coming avalanche of Norwegian heritage and culture!

Ok, more later, but for now I'm off to find this guy. I know he's checked in to the hotel, so I may need to stake out the convention registration desk. If anyone reading this can deliver him to me at the HQ office in the Coeur d'Alene hotel and spa, I will gladly repay with a special prize.

Have a great day everyone!

Friday, August 27, 2010

The World is Your Language Lab

Want to brush up on your Norwegian vowels? Check out this video clip that runs through the pronunciation of all nine. (In case you’re wondering, they’re presented in the following order: I, Y, E, Ø, A, Æ, Å, O, U.)

Thanks to all the great resources on the Internet, it’s easier than ever to learn—or dust off—a foreign language. When I was studying Norwegian in college, I remember going to the language lab, putting on the headphones and listening to recordings of folk tales while I read along. Now it’s easy to find resources such as Norwegian radio stations, TV programs, movies and newspapers—all without leaving your desk.

You can also find a mini language lesson, called “Spread the Word,” in Viking magazine each month. It’s in our newly redesigned Nordic Life department. It’s just for fun (there’s no final exam), so enjoy!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minnesota, where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585. Amy is a Nordic folk music enthusiast, and when she’s not working or parenting, she can often be found making music with friends.

Norwegian Experience Highlights

While many of our Sons of Norway members, delegates and headquarters staff are in “2010 International Convention mode,” we at headquarters are also in “Norwegian Experience mode” as we check in with this year’s contest winner, Bruce Johnson.

Bruce is currently enjoying the first parts of his journey, spending time in London prior to setting sail for the Norwegian coast on the MS Balmoral. We’ll be checking in with Bruce next week for updates on his travel, however here’s a bit of 2010 trip highlights.

- As the Norwegian Experience Recruitment contest winner, Bruce will be enjoying an exclusive 7-10 day Fred Olsen cruise for two, courtesy of Borton Overseas.

- Business class international air travel and deluxe accommodations 

- 2 day stay in Oslo, including tours to City Hall, Vigeland Park, Holmenkollen and the Folk Museum.

Don’t forget to check back to the blog next week for regular updates on Bruce’s trip.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Live from the 2010 International Convention!

Hei everyone! As promised, we are bringing the convention experience to everyone in Sons of Norway who wasn't able to join us in beautiful Coeur d'Alene, ID!

Today was a set-up day at the hotel, where a couple colleagues and I began to set up the HQ office, review docs and tour the areas of the hotel we will be using come Saturday. It's been a full day, but it doesn't make for super-exciting blog posts, so I'll keep it short today.

One item of interest is that I've updated the Sons of Norway YouTube channel with a couple of videos. There will be more exciting vids coming over the next few days, though. I promise!

More tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Norwegian Experience Preview

This year’s Norwegian Experience winner, Bruce Johnson, says he’s “like a kid in a candy store” as he eagerly awaits his upcoming trip to Norway. After all, who wouldn’t be excited to spend 7-10 days enjoying breathtaking views of Norway from a Fred Olsen cruise ship? But before we cover more of the exciting details of Bruce’s upcoming trip, lets learn a bit more about our winner…

Bruce and his wife, Mary, are members of Maine Nordmenn 3-664 and were recruited by their neighbor 4 years ago. In those short 4 years, a chain of events were set into motion that would lead not only to the discovery of a great family story, but also a new connection with family in Norway, that Bruce says, “was all due to Sons of Norway.”

So what’s the story you ask?

Shortly after joining, Bruce learned through military records that his grandfather had emigrated from Tønsberg, Norway at the age of 16 to join the U.S. Navy. After discovering his grandfather’s Norwegian roots, Bruce soon went in search of his family’s ties to Norway, writing an article for the Olso-based magazine “Familien.” In the months afterward, Bruce was able to connect with his Norwegian second cousin and visit them in Tønsberg.

Today, Bruce and his wife Mary are looking forward to their next adventure in Norway as part of the 2010 Norwegian Experience contest. Here’s some of the highlights of their upcoming trip and of course, how Bruce got to this point.

The contest is open to anyone who recruited at least one new member last year. How many new members did you recruit?

“After the September 2009 issue of Viking our lodge started a number of recruiting initiatives in an effort to gain members. One of our ideas was to offer ½ price 1-year memberships to new members. Our lodge paid for one half of the membership and the new member paid the other half. I was able to sign up 10 new lodge members after that.”

Since you’ve been to Norway before, what are you looking forward to seeing on this trip that you’ve not had the opportunity to see before?

“We’ll be seeing much more of Norway from a cruise ship on this trip than we’ve done before, so I’m looking forward to seeing more of the western coastline… and of course, the fjords! I’ve been to Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and Norway is definitely the most beautiful! In Oslo I plan to spend a lot of time at Vigeland Park, I’ve never seen it.”

How has the trip planning been going? Are you having a good experience working with Borton Overseas?

“The people at Borton have been UNBELIEVABLE. They answer all of our questions! Our itinerary is step-by-step…they’ve thought of everything, Linda McCormick, especially, has been fantastic. The first part of our trip will start in Stockholm, but by August 29th we’ll be beginning our cruise on the MS Balmoral. Our accommodations on the ship are amazing; we’re staying in the captain’s suite!”

Any final thoughts before embarking on your trip?

“ This truly is the trip of a LIFETIME! I would strongly encourage members to take part and recruit as many people as possible.”

Check in with us on Friday for an additional post on the Norwegian Experience contest and on Monday as we follow up with Bruce during the first days of his trip.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ibsen’s Enduring Influence

Did you know that, next to Shakespeare, Henrik Ibsen is the most frequently performed dramatist in the world? I knew that Ibsen was an influential playwright, but I was still surprised to learn this fact while editing “10 Artists Who Shaped a Nation,” part two of our Notable Norwegians series for the September issue of Viking.

In the article, Jan Sjåvik, professor of Scandinavian studies at the University of Washington, calls Ibsen “amazingly current…and amazingly interesting.” This is evidenced by the wealth of opportunities to see Ibsen’s work performed around the world.

If you’re in the Oslo area, check out the National Theater’s Ibsen Festival. Every other year at the end of the summer, the theater invites outstanding Ibsen productions from around the world to its celebration of the playwright. This year the festival kicks off on Aug. 26 with Ibsenmachine, a production based on several of Ibsen’s well-known works.

Ibsen fans in New York City have the opportunity to see Hedda Gabler in a unique setting. Running through Sept. 4, the production is staged in a historic townhouse, where the actors mingle with the audience, creating an intimate atmosphere. Tickets are limited. For more information, visit heddagablernyc.com.

Photo courtesy of National Library of Norway.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minnesota, where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585. Amy is a Nordic folk music enthusiast, and when she’s not working or parenting, she can often be found making music with friends.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Princess Diaries

What is Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit up to this summer? She was recently in Vienna to attend AIDS 2010, the world’s largest health conference. While she was there, she opened a new Youth Pavilion, a networking space for young people involved in the AIDS effort. Over the past two years, the Crown Princess has paid special attention to empowering youth leadership in the fight against AIDS.

To learn more about the activities of the Crown Princess, and about Norway’s Royal Family in general, visit kongehuset.no. You also can read more about Norway’s monarchy in the December issue of Viking, where we’ll explore some of Royal Family’s official duties and favorite causes.

Photo courtesy of Jo Michael, the Royal Court

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minnesota, where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585. Amy is a Nordic folk music enthusiast, and when she’s not working or parenting, she can often be found making music with friends.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Recruiter’s Reception at the 2010 Convention!

August 30th at 5:30pm – where will you be?

Why, at the 2nd Recruiter’s Reception, of course!

Join the Fraternal Department to celebrate short-term recruiting successes and share stories of what works with other motivated members. For recruiting just one new, dues-paying member,* you’ll also get to take part in a great spread of hors d’oeurves and drinks and have a chance to win prizes.

We’ve teamed up with Ingebretsen’s to present lucky and hard-working recruiters with some fabulous prizes, which may include these awesome items below. There’s still plenty of time to recruit a member and be part of the fun in Coeur d’Alene!

Want more information? Pop over here (http://sonsofnorway2010.com/agenda/Default.aspx#Reception2) for *full details on qualifications and participation.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Message on a Bottle

Most Sons of Norway members have heard of Thor Heyerdahl and his 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition, but have you heard of the Plastiki? The catamaran, made from 12,500 recycled plastic drink bottles, made the news lately when its crew successfully completed a 128-day voyage across the Pacific Ocean, leaving San Francisco on March 22 and arriving in Sydney, Australia, on July 26. Its mission? To raise awareness about ocean pollution. Among the vessel’s six-person crew is Norway’s Olav Heyerdahl, grandson of Thor Heyerdahl. I bet his grandfather would be proud.

You can read more about Thor Heyerdahl, plus nine more of Norway’s most influential explorers, scientists and researchers, in the October issue of Viking. It’s part three of our Notable Norwegians series by Sarah Asp Olson.

Creative Commons image by Flickr user mokwai

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in
Northfield, Minnesota,
where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585. Amy is a Nordic folk music enthusiast, and when she’s not working or parenting, she can often be found making music with friends.