Traditions and values to keep us together

Embracing our heritage, enriching our lives and the lives of others


Photo: Ingrid Sampson
Synneva Bratland is The Norwegian American’s new editorial assistant, working from Norway House in Minneapolis. Synneva proudly displays a tote bag for the “I Love The Norwegian American” campaign.

Dear readers and friends,

By the time this issue lands in mailboxes around North America, many of you will have children or grandchildren back in school. With the start of the school year, it may feel like new beginnings for you. With summer drawing to a close, many of us are making plans for fall, which is right around the corner.

Fall is always a time of big activity at the newspaper, the time when we start planning for our holiday issues and the upcoming calendar year. Here at The Norwegian American, we are ramping up, which has included strengthening our staff with new hires. Recently, we’ve welcomed Synneva Bratland, our new editorial assistant, and John Smistad, who has joined us as our advertising manager.

Synneva is a recent graduate of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., with majors in mathematics and Norwegian. Her background in all things Nordic has deep roots, as she has spent many years at Concordia Language Villages in Bemidji, Minn., both as a student and as an instructor. Synneva brings a young, fresh perspective to our editorial team. Currently residing in the Twin Cities, she serves as an important on-site liaison with our colleagues at Norway House. With her education and enthusiasm for all things Norwegian, we are very thrilled that she has joined our team.

John, too, is one of the most enthusiastic, proud Norwegian Americans I know, and we are equally excited to have him join us. As a regular contributor to the paper as a film critic, John is no newcomer to The Norwegian American. His strong familiarity of our publication—along with his very outgoing personality—uniquely qualifies him to represent us. Please check out his film review in this issue and past issues as we welcome him to a new role on the team.

Here at The Norwegian American, we are constantly looking to improve our publication, while growing our subscriber base. This is a challenge with the limited resources we have, and I want to take the opportunity to thank all of you who have already contributed to our fundraiser “I Love The Norwegian American.” During the past year, we have seen a slight drop in our subscriber numbers, and we need to reverse this trend. This will require enhanced marketing efforts, which costs time and money. But you can help—just simply get the word out about why you love our newspaper, and remember, if you contribute $100 or more to our fundraiser, you will receive a very handy and handsome tote bag, which is great advertising for our newspaper. Again, tusen takk a thousand times over!

Heritage and community

According to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, commonly known as UNESCO, “heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration”—and I couldn’t agree more.

These days, when there is so much misunderstanding and conflict in the world, it is more important than ever to understand where we come from, why we think the way we do, and to even question our own values and their relevancy to how we are living today. With this type of reassessment, our traditions can sustain and keep us together. Perhaps even more importantly, we can strive to improve the lives of others outside our immediate community. We can share our  traditions and values with people of other ethnic backgrounds or those who simply want to learn about something new to enrich their lives.

The work of this newspaper has always been about making connections and friendships. For this issue with its heritage theme, we are very honored and pleased to share our cover story from Voss, Norway, a story of a new life breathed into a wonderful old tradition. This collaboration is the result of many relationships forged over the years—through travel, mutual projects, and my own friendship with the incredible photojournalist Ingerid Jordal. We are so grateful for her support in bringing this remarkable story to you.

At that, I hope you enjoy this very colorful and insightful issue that is a testimony to the positive power of heritage and wish you a great start to the new season. Most of all, wishing you many hours of happy reading!

Lori Ann Reinhall
Editor-in-chief, The Norwegian American

This article originally appeared in the September 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.