Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Knit and Connect at Vesterheim

Every fall when I notice a chill in the air it makes me want to grab my knitting needles and get busy. Maybe this is an ancestral memory—an urge that was once essential for our survival. These days, knitting is no longer a necessity for making it through the cold Midwestern winter, but a luxury and a creative outlet. Maybe these are even better reasons to grab those needles and seek the company of other knitters.

I wish I lived a little closer to Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa, so I could attend their Knit-In on Nov. 3–4. Knitters will be dropping by any time from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. one or both days. In addition to knitting and conversation, there will be special presentations, tours of Vesterheim's textile storage, and a stash sale of yarn, patterns and notions. For a schedule of the day and more information contact Laurann Gilbertson at lgilbertson@vesterheim.org or call 563-382-9681. More information is also available at vesterheim.org.

I also wish I could take one of the upcoming knitting classes at Vesterheim: “Knitting a Danish Nattrøje Sweater” on Nov. 1–2, or “Knitting a Swedish Halland Sweater” on November 5–6. In fact, Vesterheim has a great traditional arts program for all ages. I encourage you to check it out!

Do you like the idea of taking a class to learn—or improve—your skill at a Nordic craft? Then look for our upcoming article about combining hobbies and travel in the January issue of Viking!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.
Photo courtesy of Vesterheim.

Norwegian Hockey Comes to Minnesota

With so many North Americans lamenting the ongoing NHL lockout, Minnesota finds itself in a very fortuitous situation because we still have high-level international hockey to enjoy! This week the Norwegian National U18 hockey team traveled to Minnesota to take part in the NIT Bauer Invitational Tournament.

This Norwegian team is comprised of 25 players from the Norwegian Ice Hockey Federation, many of whom are expected to make an appearance at 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. In addition to playing in the tournament, the U18 team, coached by Robert Jonsson, will also play a couple of friendlies with local Minnesota college teams, like St Olaf and Augsburg.

If you are in Minnesota this week, I definitely recommend you check out the tournament and cheer for the Norwegian Athletes! If there’s one thing Minnesota is known for, it’s our hockey, so when you throw in a team from Norway you just know it’s going to be a great showing by everyone involved. I believe tickets for the tournament are available from the New Hope Arena and can be purchased over the phone or at the door.

To learn more about the U18 Norwegian team, check out their Facebook page as well as this site dedicated to the U18 team with player and selection info. For their full schedule info, click here.

Join me in welcoming this great team to the Midwest and wish them luck against some of the finest U18 hockey players in America!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Oral History How-To

This past weekend I attended the biennial meeting for the Norwegian-American Historical Association (NAHA), held at St. Olaf College. One of the day's break-out sessions was a panel discussion about a new joint project between Sons of Norway and NAHA. The project aims to capture the oral histories of post-WWII immigrants.

One of the panelists for this session was Joe Hoover, digital technology outreach specialist in field services at the Minnesota Historical Society. Viking writer Sarah Asp Olson interviewed Hoover earlier this fall for her article, "Oral History How-To." Here are some tips Hoover shared for recording in the 21st century:

Get Smart. Smart phones are a convenient and effective way to capture oral histories on the go. Add handy (and inexpensive) apps like FiRe 2 for audio and FiLMiCPro for video, and you’re all set to record anywhere.

Mics Matter. To give your recording quality a boost, use a good microphone. While high quality versions can run up to $200, Hoover has found good ones in the $5 to $10 range. “The one thing you will need is an audio input adapter,” he says. “If you just plug the mic into the iPhone it won’t record.”

Digitize. Say you recorded your grandpa two decades ago when no one had heard of an Mp3. Hoover recommends taking those tapes and converting them to a digital file format. “It actually can be very easy,” he says. “With the right cabling, you can set up the output into your laptop.”

Comfort Counts.
“I highly recommend finding a device that you’re comfortable with,” says Hoover. After all, if you’re intimidated by the technology, you may choose not to pursue the interview in the first place—a far worse tragedy than a couple crackles or pops. 

Check out Hoover’s blog for more tips and specific recommendations. And learn more about taking and archiving oral histories in the November issue of Viking!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Support the Foundation, Bid Today

We’re down to the last couple of days for the 2012 Sons ofNorway Foundation online auction fundraiser! Tomorrow is the last day to place your bids on one of the many great items/experiences available, so if you’ve been waiting until the last minute to place a bid you’re nearly there.

There are some really cool items to bid on that would make a great addition to your Scandinavian collection or a thoughtful gift for a loved one. There’s a number of books that would fit perfectly in your personal library, beautiful collectibles that any Scandinavian would be proud to display in their home, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences that would make unique gifts.

Just some of the highlights include:

Astri My Astri--A collection of 16 Norwegian heritage stories published in both English and Norwegian in the same book. The non-fiction stories touch anyone who has an interest in Norwegian heritage, culture, genealogy, or bilingual studies. The book takes one on a journey from immigrating in the 1840s to the discovery of an immigrant trunk more than one hundred years later and the subsequent unraveling of a rich family history. Among the topics included are the Minnesota Sioux Uprising of 1862, the great flu epidemic of 1918, hiking above the Arctic Circle, the heavy water assault during World War II, Norwegian rosemaling and bunader, Syttende Mai, stave churches, founding of a Norwegian Lutheran church in America, and the life of Snowshoe Thompson.

Chip Carved Plate-- Norwegians have embellished many every day items including plates.  This handsome, 10 " across, chip carved plate is done by Montana native Hans Stokken.  He learned this skill from internationally known carver, Hans Sandom.  These intricate carvings are done by hand with several sizes and shapes of gauges to achieve the symmetry this style is known for.  Some lucky bidder will have this for their wall or display case.

Guided Walking Tour of Mississippi River-- Get up close to some of the most impressive sights of Minneapolis from the Stone Arch Bridge over the Mississippi to the Federal Building.  Spend 3 hours and lunch overlooking this scenic waterway.

Guest Host Scandinavian Hour radio show-- Have you ever dreamt of becoming a radio host?  This is your chance to appear on “Scandinavian Hour” with Doug Warne, the long standing host of this very popular radio program. Broadcast every Saturday morning in Seattle, WA, the program features music and news from the Scandinavian community.
As co-host you will also have the opportunity to promote your business or cause.  Don't miss out on this truly unique experience.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Guided, Semi-Independent and Independent Travel to Norway – What’s the difference?

Today we have a guest blog post from none other than Linda McCormick, Managing Director of Sons of Norway Travel Partner Borton Overseas! In it she discusses the various types of tours available to travelers who are looking to explore Norway. Enjoy!

There are many options available when it comes to travel packages, and it may be confusing to know the difference. Each has its own benefits so you must evaluate what type of traveler you are to determine which type of travel package suits you best.

Guided Packages
“If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium” may be what you’re thinking of when you hear “guided tour.” However, guided tours have changed over the years, allowing more free time for participants to enjoy shopping or sightseeing on their own. Many guided tours focus on specific regions, or may have a theme or be activity-focused. Guided tours have set departure dates and you will travel in a group on a set itinerary, and everything is taken care of for you from luggage handling to wake-up calls. Your knowledgeable tour guide will be with you all the way, providing valuable commentary on history, culture, and a multitude of other topics of the places you will visit. Tours offer a tremendous value for their price – you pay one price for all inclusions – hotels, transportation, sightseeing, several meals, tour guide services – and you know exactly what out-of-pocket expenses you will be responsible for. It’s a great way to keep within your budget and meet fellow travelers.

Semi-Independent Packages
This is a great option for travelers who want independent travel with some guided touring. With this type of package you have flexible departure dates and will travel with your own companions. There is a set itinerary and your package will include accommodations, transportation such as train and boat, and arrival and departure transfers, as well as specific city tours or guided activities based on your specifications. This gives you the flexibility of being on your own with free time, but having scheduled tours so you won’t miss out on experiences and sights you really want to see. You will also know what out-of-pocket expenses you will have, so this is also a good option to keep within your budget.

Independent Packages
Many people want the freedom of traveling on their own, with the comfort of knowing that there is a confirmed hotel room waiting at the end of the day. This option requires having a basic itinerary, since your accommodations and transportation will be confirmed, but you will have the freedom of traveling on your own without a set schedule during the day. Independent tours can be set up with public transportation such as train, boat or bus or with a rental car, depending on your preference. Your sightseeing and activity expenses will be paid locally.

All of these packages include airfare from the US, and are pre-paid in US dollars before you leave the US. You receive vouchers and tickets for all the included items, as well as detailed itinerary, contact information, and destination information pertaining to your specific itinerary.

Visit www.bortonoverseas.com to view all travel packages. Don't forget, Sons of Norway members receive a 5% member discount on Borton Overseas packages and customized itineraries!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Foundation Auction: Amazing Experiences for All!

This is the last week to bid on items being auctioned off as part of the Sons of Norway’s new online fundraiser! There are still a lot of great deals to be had, especially on the unique experiences being offered. So, if you are looking for something new to try, or need a gift for the person who has everything, any of the experience below would definitely do well!

Dessert and Star Party: This is an evening for a party of 6 to 8 persons to enjoy the night sky. Gourmet Dessert will be catered by The Flower and Bea Teas and the Star Party will be conducted by Dr. Terry Flower, Emeritus Professor of St. Catherine University. Location is in the suburban St. Paul area.

The Seattle Great Wheel: Going to be in Seattle?  Experience the newest waterfront attraction, The Seattle Great Wheel. It is the largest observation wheel on the West Coast, standing 175 feet tall and extending nearly 40 feet beyond the end of the pier over Elliott Bay. Open year-round, it has 42 fully-enclosed gondolas, which accommodate over 300 passengers at any given time.

The winning bidder will receive six tickets for a half-hour glimpse of the amazing views of Seattle's beautiful harbor and Puget Sound.

Sightseeing Tour of Minneapolis and St Paul: Enjoy a relaxing tour for 4 of Minneapolis and St Paul including lunch and all entrance fees from 9 AM to 3 PM.  The tour will include locations of special interest for Norwegians and Norwegian-Americans such as both the Leif Erickson and Ole Bull statues.  The Tour will be catered to customers request.

Guided Walking Tour of Mississippi River: Get up close to some of the most impressive sights of Minneapolis from the Stone Arch Bridge over the Mississippi to the Federal Building.  Spend 3 hours and lunch overlooking this scenic waterway.

Behindthe Scene Tour of the Nordic Heritage Museum & Dinner for Two: Eric Nelson, CEO of the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle, WA, will give a behind the scenes tour of this unique museum and invites you and a guest to join him for dinner at the famous Ballard watering hole, Copper Gate Restaurant & Bar.  The winning bidder will also receive a year's membership to the museum.

Behindthe Scene Tour of Norwegian American Genealogical Center: Blaine Hedberg, Naeseth Chair for Research & Publication, will give a behind-the-scenes tour of this Norwegian-American treasure, and donate up to 3 hours of personal genealogical research (valued at $150) for the highest bidder.  What do you know about your family's Norwegian roots?  Blaine will bring your family story to life right in front of you.

ExperienceTrollhaugen Lodge: The winner of this experience may use this $250 certificate towards a stay at this wonderful get away location just off of the Stampede Pass Highway. In the winter go sledding, tubing, or cross country skiing right from the lodge or go downhill skiing a few minutes away at Snoquamie Summit. Great summer activities include hiking, fishing, horseshoes and even an outdoor dance floor.  Pack your bags and enjoy all the Cascades have to offer including a fully-equipped kitchen, clothes-dryer, hot tub and fireplaces to curl up by. Accommodations are dormitory style.

GuestHost "Scandinavian Hour" Radio Program: Have you ever dreamt of becoming a radio host?  This is your chance to appear on “Scandinavian Hour” with Doug Warne, the long standing host of this very popular radio program. Broadcast every Saturday morning in Seattle, WA, the program features music and news from the Scandinavian community

Stayat the Metigoshe Ministries Retreat: Enjoy Lake Metigoshe, ND while staying at this cozy and lodge-like retreat center.  This gift certificate entitles 2 nights for one person or one night for two people in the Norwegian Room and includes meals.  Year-round recreational opportunities include hiking and biking trails, volleyball, horseshoes, basketball, fishing, outdoor campfires, wildlife watching, ice skating, crosscountry skiing and a tubing hill.  Just minutes from the International Peace Garden.

RadissonHotel Stay & Mall of AmericaShopping Experience: Visiting the Minneapolis area?  Then, don't miss out on this fun hotel and shopping experience.  The Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau wants you to enjoy all Bloomington has to offer with this wonderful stay.  One night at the Radisson Hotel and Water Park and several passes to all things Mall of America.  Two Big Pass cards for many of the major attractions in the Twin Cities area. Bring the kids and have a ball!

TwoNight stay at Historic Paulsen Log Cabin at Norskedalen: Relax for a two-night stay and take a trip back into history by staying in the 130 year old Paulsen Log Cabin while enjoying modern comforts. Experience pioneer life at the serene Norskedalen Nature & Heritage Center in rural Coon Valley, WI.  It is a mix of Norwegian heritage and our ancestors experiences.




Norwegians Award Nobel Peace Prize to EU

On Oct. 12 the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced its 2012 Peace Prize will go to the European Union. The unconventional choice was applauded by some and angered others, creating a maelstrom of media coverage and commentary, including articles in the New York Times, CNN and the Atlantic.

Given that Norway has opted to stay out of the union, many commentators were quick to point out the irony of the choice, like this tweet from Slate.com on the day of the announcement:
Do you agree with the Norwegian committee's choice? Should the EU be recognized for bringing peace and stability to Europe, or is the Nobel committee propping up the union during a difficult time? I'd love to hear your opinion, either here or by emailing vikingeditor@mspcustomcontent.com.

Regardless of the controversy of this year's award, few would argue with the fact that the prize is awarded by a Norwegian committee, since Norway is recognized around the globe as a leader in peacemaking. Want to learn more about it? Stay tuned as we explore Norway's peacemaking efforts, foreign policy, and aid abroad in the December issue of Viking.

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. She lives with her family in Northfield, Minn., where she’s a member of Nordmarka 1-585.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sons of Norway Foundation Auction Update

Today starts the second week of the Sons of Norway Foundation online auctionfundraiser! To mark the occasion we’ve added a few new items for member to bid on, including some gorgeous art and stoneware.

First, we’ve got some watercolor prints of traditional bunads by Sharon Aamodt that beautifully display the rich colors of Norway’s traditional garb. They can be viewed by clicking here and here.

In addition, we have a hand crafted stoneware bowl was done by artist Sherry Gorse. The dusty blues and earthy brown pattern lends itself to display on a shelf or to use as a serving piece.

Last, but not least, we have an experience up for auction that includes an evening for a party of 6 to 8 persons to enjoy the night sky. Gourmet Dessert will be catered by The Flower and Bea Teas and the Star Party will be conducted by Dr. Terry Flower, Emeritus Professor of St. Catherine University. Location is in the suburban St. Paul area.

These are great items that I think will be very popular with our members. If you haven’t yet, be sure to bid soon and bid often! Remember, all proceeds go to support the Sons of Norway Foundation. Also, be sure to keep checking back for new and updated items listed on the auction and highlighted here on the blog.

Viking Chats With Journalist Nina Berglund

The October issue of Viking featured an excerpted interview with California-born journalist Nina Berglund. She had plenty to say that didn't fit in the magazine about her English news site, "Views and News from Norway," and working as a journalist in Norway. Read on for the whole conversation with Viking's associate editor Anya Britzius.

Viking: After establishing your journalism career in the United States, what prompted you to move to Oslo?
Nina Berglund: I came to Oslo with a Norwegian husband at the time, wound up on my own here a year later, but stayed because I fortunately had landed a great job as an editor at one of the English-language sister papers to Oslo-based business daily Dagens Næringsliv (DN). I married DN's foreign editor in 1995, Morten Møst, and he's another wonderful incentive to stick around! He's been an enormous source of support and encouragement during the three years I've been running newsinenglish.no.

V: What are some of the biggest differences you've seen between being a reporter in the United States and in Norway?
NB: I think reporters here are more restrained than in the United States, sharp and thorough, but more considerate. I came from a real bulldog-type, aggressive journalistic culture and found the newsrooms so much quieter here. There's more consensus and less confrontation.

V: "Views and News from Norway" is a great resource for English-speakers to keep tabs on the news of Norway. How did you get the idea, and what are your goals with the site?
NB: My main goal for the site is simply to keep it going! I sorely missed a source of Norwegian news in English when I first arrived in Oslo and didn't have a clue what was going on around me. I'm a news junkie and felt there was a hole in the market that I finally got a chance to fill when I was hired by newspaper Aftenposten in 1999 to work on its then-new website. I helped build up an English news service for aftenposten.no, but Aftenposten unfortunately shut it down in 2008 to cut costs when the media crisis first hit. I launched "Views and News from Norway" on my own in an effort to carry on where Aftenposten left off. It's a huge challenge. Advertising is hard to come by, very few readers hit the "Donate" button and it's hard protecting our content from those who copy and paste it into their site or newsletters, with no permission from or compensation to us. So the business aspects of running the site are much tougher than producing the news.

V: What kinds of stories are you most passionate about?
NB: Probably how Norway has developed into being such a strong and wealthy country, way out of proportion to its size. It's fascinating to watch the endless stream of world leaders and celebrities showing up in Norway these days, clearly attracted by energy resources or Norway's strong economy at a time when so many other countries are in crisis. It's one thing to have oil, but Norway's management of its oil wealth is worth a lot of attention. I'm fascinated by national politics, the social welfare system here, foreign policy, also immigration and integration issues that are a concern for all foreigners here in Norway. Stories about the royals also tend to be popular with readers.

V: What are some of the biggest stories from the past year that stand out in your mind?
NB: Without question the terrorist attacks of July 22, and the agonizing 10-week trial of Norway's homegrown right-wing terrorist who hasn't backed down from his anti-Islamic campaign or shown any regret. It's been a national nightmare. The freeze in diplomatic relations between Norway and China, since the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, has been a drama of another kind. The importance of the Norwegian Arctic, not least the issues involving oil and gas exploration in environmentally sensitive areas, is a constant source of stories. The pace of news in general has been relentless the past year.

V: What do you like to do in your free time? Do you have any favorite places in Norway?
NB: I try to at least take Saturdays off, and then we head for the hills and forests surrounding Oslo. It's so accessible, so user-friendly, so beautiful and quiet, and the perfect antidote to a week of website stress. We ski in the winter and hike in the summer. When I finally was granted permanent residence permission here, I bought a hytte (cottage) in northern Nordmarka and it's our great escape. Oslo itself has really blossomed since I first moved here, so there's no end to the museums, restaurants and other sources of urban fun, although it's pricey. Norway has so many gorgeous places that it's impossible to pick out a favorite, but the wide-open spaces in and around Rondane rank high. Website demands have kept me a lot more bound to Oslo than I used to be, but I love sharing Norway's news and hope I can keep doing so.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Planning a Family Trip to Norway with Borton Overseas

Today we've got a great post from Borton Overseas' Scandinavia Specialist Jan Schubert! In it she shares her expertise and insights on planning a family trip to Norway!

What makes you a Scandinavia Specialist?
My father grew up along the Oslofjord, between Oslo and Drøbak, and my mother’s side of the family is from Småland in Sweden. We took our first family trip to Norway when I was 14. That trip led to a B.A. and graduate studies in Scandinavian Studies and Norwegian. I spent eight summers teaching Norwegian at Sons of Norway’s Camp Norway program, and lived in Norway for over two years, working and attending the Unversity of Oslo. I have traveled extensively throughout the country by car, train, plane, and twice on the coastal steamer roundtrip between Bergen and Kirkenes. I have sailed along the southern coast, skied on the Hardanger Plateau, and hiked in the fjord country.

Have you taken other family trips to Norway?
One of my most memorable trips was a family trip in 2007, a 2,400-km journey with my parents, three brothers, our spouses, and all 11 grandchildren. Five station wagons brought us from Stockholm through Småland, across Telemark to Bergen, along the Sognefjord and back east to Oslo.

Planning a two-week trip for 21 people ranging in age from 6 to 79 was an adventure in logistics and innovation. I enjoyed finding activities that would be fun for the kids and give them a break from the long drives and coffee visits with relatives. We took the Color Line ferry from Strömstad to Sandefjord to cut off three hours of driving, and we stayed in cabins when possible. We ate picnic lunches by mountain lakes, visited a moose park, rode a ski lift up a mountain, threw snowballs in June, hiked along a mountain creek, jumped on the giant inflatable “hoppepute” in Vrådal, took the Flåm Railway, and threw rocks in the fjord. 

3 Tips for planning a family trip:

  •   Allow “down” time.  If possible, spend at least two nights in each place. 
  •  Picnics work better than restaurants, because they don’t require sitting still or being quiet. They are also great money savers, and grocery shopping is a fun cultural experience for all ages.         
  •  Make sure that each member of your family has a fun and memorable activity - coffee with Great Aunt Sigrid for you, mountain biking for your teenager, a hands-on aquarium for the youngest. Many activities, like RIB boat safaris, the Fløibanen funicular, and outdoor folk museums, are popular with everyone. The Borton Overseas Scandinavia Department can give you lots of good ideas.

What makes a family trip more than “just” a vacation?
Our family trip became the source of a lifetime of “remember whens” for all of us, and it passed the family ties down to the next generation. The daughter of a cousin we visited spent a school year in Phoenix with my brother’s family; my daughter attended a folkehøgskole and spent school breaks in the homes of several of my cousins. Now they all stay connected through Facebook. Seeing the long-term impact of that family trip has been really rewarding.

What have your travels taught you about being a Scandinavia Specialist at Borton Overseas?
I have learned that we are not just arranging trips; we are crafting life experiences.  People, places, and adventures along the way - the thunder of Feigumsfossen waterfall in Luster, the glow of the midnight sun in Lofoten, the salty wind on ferries across the fjord, sheep lounging in the middle of the road, the breathtaking view from the Pulpit Rock near Stavanger, fresh shrimp bought off a boat in Drøbak, the store clerk who turns out to be a distant relative – all have a lasting impact on how we view ourselves and the world, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

If you'd like help planning your next family trip, whether it's for a few people or a family reunion, definitely contact Borton Overseas! Their expertise is exactly what you need to put together a flawless trip that will make memories for a lifetime!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Online Auction: The Newest Foundation Fundraiser

Today marks the beginning of Foundation Month 2012! This is a time for members throughout Sons of Norway to celebrate the Foundation and its great work as well support it through the various fundraising options available. This year the Foundation is trying something new and I hope you’ll be as excited about it as I am.

For the first time, the Sons of Norway Foundation is hosting an online auction fundraiser to help support its numerous grant and scholarship funds! Through a partnership with Biddingforgood.com, the Foundation is auctioning dozens of different, unique items and experiences.

There are a number of items that would make great additions to any Scandinavian home, or special gifts for your family and loved-ones. From commemorative Christmas ornaments to autographed CDs, to hand-made collectibles, the Foundation auction is sure to have something of interest for everyone.

Some of the items up for bid include rosemaled pieces, hand-made tine boxes, books and autographed CDs. In addition, there are a number of opportunities to bid on unique experiences.

Experiences available include behind-the-scenes tours of museums, co-hosting a radio show, or taking a private ride on the Great Wheel (the largest observation wheel on the west coast).

If you see something you like, all you have to do is register with biddingforgood.com and then place your bid. It’s simple, it’s fun and, above all, it’s a great way to help support the Sons of Norway Foundation.

I hope you’ll join me in supporting the Foundation this month by bidding on one (or more) of the great items being offered.