Your Swedish American Connection – News from Swedish Council of America

Your Swedish American Connection – News from Swedish Council of America

Your Swedish American Connection February 2012
In this issue:

  • SCA’s Great Achievement Award
  • Conference of Swedish America
  • Minneapolis’s American Swedish Institute Announces Official Grand Reopening!
  • Spotlight on Swedish America Heritage Online
  • Affiliate Events
  • News from Sweden
  • SCA Corporate Sponsors
  • Connect to us!
  • About Swedish Council of America
  • Hej!

    It is the time of year for bouquets of flowers, boxes of chocolates and semlor (cream and almond paste filled Lenten buns)! Many Swedes give gifts not just to their special someone but also to family and friends, creating connections and relationships that last for many years. Swedish America is also based on relationships. Our community is united in our love of Swedish and Swedish-American culture and we celebrate this connection through our efforts to promote our shared heritage. Every event of a local organization is a celebration of that connection and every SCA program that serves our affiliates is part of a relationship within Swedish America.

    During SCA’s 40th anniversary celebration, we honor the connections throughout Swedish America. We celebrate the contributions of individuals to Swedish America. We strengthen Swedish America through our resources and programs.

    How do you celebrate the richness of Swedish America in your family, community and in your personal life? I look forward to hearing your story! And I look forward to meeting you at a Swedish-American event during this celebratory year.

    Med vänliga hälsningar,
    Elise Peters, Executive Director


    SCA’s Great Achievement Award

    Swedish Council of America is proud to present its SCA Great Achievement Award to Governor Eva Eriksson (Karlstad, Sweden) and Mr. Glen Brolander (Stillwater, Minnesota). The award will be presented in conjunction with the SCA 40th Anniversary celebration on Friday, April 13, 2012.

    Swedish Council of America’s Awards Program honors outstanding contributions to Swedish America and the world by famous and not-so-famous individuals. Bringing attention to the noteworthy contributions of Swedes and Swedish Americans is an important part of Swedish Council’s mission. In 1980, SCA sponsored the first Great Swedish Heritage Award program to celebrate the achievements of Americans of Swedish descent. At the same event, SCA began a tradition of recognizing the accomplishments of a Swedish citizen by presenting the America’s Swede of the Year Award. Previous recipients include Barbro Osher, Dr. Nils Hasselmo, H.E. Jan Eliasson, and Agneta Nilsson. (For a complete listing of previous recipients visit our awards page.) In 2008, Swedish Council of America’s Board of Directors decided that future awardees would be honored with the SCA Great Achievement Award. Mrs. Siri Eliason was the first recipient of this award in 2011.

    Invitations to the 40th Anniversary celebration where the awards will be presented will be in the mail in early March. If you are interested in receiving an invitation, please send your name and address to swedcoun@swedishcouncil.org.




    Conference of Swedish America

    Celebrations and activities to celebrate SCA’s first 40 years connecting Swedish America will take place throughout 2012. In addition to the celebration on April 13 (read more above), SCA is partnering with a group of organizations led by The Swedish American Center in Karlstad (Värmland, Sweden) to host the next Conference of Swedish America. Part of the Swedish Council’s mission is to bring together people from Sweden and North America in educational programs. To date, the Swedish Council has presented ten conferences across the United States and Sweden to educate interested persons and engage new generations to learn about Sweden and Swedish America. Prior locations include Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley (2009), Karlstad, Sweden (2006), St. Paul, Minn. (2004), and San Francisco (2000).

    The Governor of Värmland, Eva Eriksson, and CEO of The Swedish American Center in Karlstad, Sweden, Erik Gustavson warmly welcome people of all ages to the Swedish American Bridge Conference September 12-16, 2012. The Swedish American Bridge conference will explore and help grow Swedish-American ties into the future. With shared history as a foundation, we lift our gaze toward exchanges involving education, research, entrepreneurship and environmental technology. We raise questions of how Sweden, the United States, and Canada can contribute to a sustainable development; of cooperation across borders; and how exchanges of students and researchers between countries can support and stimulate continued good relations between the three nations.

    The preliminary conference fee is approximately $650 USD, which includes participation in the entire program, all meals, local transportation, and the concluding banquet. Participants are responsible for travel to Karlstad and hotel accommodations. The complete program will be presented in the next issue of Sweden & America magazine.

    Individuals registering their interest in the conference with the Swedish Council of America or the Swedish American Center by March 1, 2012 will receive a 10% discount off the conference fee.




    Minneapolis’s American Swedish Institute Announces Official Grand Reopening!

    The American Swedish Institute (ASI) announced on February 21, 2012 that June 30 will be the official grand opening for Minneapolis’s newest landmark, the Carl and Leslie Nelson Cultural Center. The opening of the ASI’s long-anticipated addition positions the museum squarely as a significant cultural center for the region, a place to experience the remarkable—and unexpected—in Nordic arts, music and culture.

    All are welcome to celebrate the opening of the 34,000 square foot Nelson Cultural Center at an all-day festival, Saturday, June 30. The party will feature the first public looks at the new building and outdoor spaces, special international musical guests, craft demonstrations, family activities, an exhibit by world-renowned tapestry artist Helena Hernmarck, food and beverages – and several really fantastic surprises, to be announced shortly.

    The Nelson Cultural Center’s innovative design and handcrafted, Swedish-inspired detailing embrace Nordic values—including respect for nature and quality materials, as well as for the environment, through energy conservation and sustainable building practices. Designed to achieve the United States Green Building Council’s LEED Gold rating, the center features a sloping green roof and a geothermal well-field for heating and cooling.

    The Nelson Cultural Center connects old and new worlds with the American Swedish Institute’s historic castle-like 1908 Turnblad Mansion, increasing space for artistic, cultural, and community programming in the city; as well as allowing for expansion of contemporary programs such as new immigrant experiences. The addition to the ASI is designed to establish a more accessible, welcoming presence in the Phillips West neighborhood of Minneapolis.

    “Minneapolis now has a new landmark building—linking with the American Swedish Institute’s iconic Turnblad Mansion in a beautiful composition that joins together modern Scandinavia with local history and tradition. Our June 30 grand opening is the culmination of more than ten years of development capped by a year-long construction effort,” said Bruce Karstadt, Honorary Consul General of Sweden and ASI’s President and CEO. “We believe this is a pivotal moment that transforms ASI’s community role. We now have ample facilities that both serve our long-standing audience, and open our gathering spaces as a resource for the entire community and our neighborhood.”

    The new construction is located on Park Avenue, to the south of the Turnblad Mansion, and is connected by a courtyard between the buildings. The center’s slate exterior is designed to echo the Mansion’s roof and complement the light limestone of the structure. From the interior entrance of the Nelson Cultural Center, two-story windows frame views of the Mansion. The project also includes extensive exterior additions: a large plaza area for festivals and neighborhood gatherings, increased parking and other major landscaping improvements.

    HGA Architects and Engineers, Minneapolis, designed the Nelson Cultural Center and surrounding landscaping. The Tegra Group, Minneapolis, provided project management expertise; and Adolfson & Peterson Construction, Minneapolis, built the facility.

    Other features of the Nelson Cultural Center include:

    • Glass-enclosed reception atrium
    • New museum shop space
    • Expanded café
    • Flexible event space seating of 325 for a lecture or concert; 225 for dinner
    • New galleries for traveling and local exhibits
    • Large studio and crafts workshop
    • Expanded spaces for meetings, events and community gatherings

    The Nelson Cultural Center also includes an educational partnership with Gustavus Adolphus College, located in St. Peter, Minnesota. The College has an office suite in the Center giving Gustavus a presence in the Twin Cities area for outreach to alumni and prospective students, and for educational programming.

    Renovations to the 1908 Turnblad Mansion, which added a community hall, library, classrooms and a new elevator-stairway circulation tower, were completed in November 2011.

    The American Swedish Institute, founded in 1929, is a vibrant arts and culture organization and historic home located on 26th and Park Avenue near downtown Minneapolis. The ASI serves as a gathering place for people to share stories and experiences around universal themes of tradition, migration, craft and the arts, all informed by enduring ties to Sweden. For more, visit http://www.asimn.org.




    Spotlight on Swedish America Heritage Online
    Swedish American Heritage Online Logo 

    In 2012, the spotlight articles will focus on projects funded by SCA grants rather than affiliate groups. This project received funding in 2011.

    Swedish America Heritage Online (SweAme) is a virtual organization focused on preserving and sharing historical data and images related to the Swedish immigrants who found a new home in America.

    In January 2007, an idea was formed to digitize and to share online the contents of the out-of-publication Texas Swedish historical book “Swedes In Texas, In Words & Pictures.” A review of the U.S. Census records found that only 25% of the Swedish born individuals living in Texas were documented in the first publication in 1918. By 2010, the Texas project had uploaded the book’s English version, added the remaining 75% and also added the immigrants living in 22 other states.

    In May, 2010, a plan was devised to expand the project to all states. The 1900 census documented 591,969 Swedish born individuals living in America. To accomplish such a large project, the SweAme non-profit organization was formed to acquire funding and to compensate contracted users to perform the online keying.

    SweAme became a Swedish Council of America (SCA) affiliate organization in January, 2011. SCA became its first source for major funding.The SCA award added over 8,700 immigrants who were living in the Duluth area in St. Louis County, Minnesota.

    The next major funding source was The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation. This project is now in progress and will add over 17,000 Swedish immigrants who were living in Maine and California in 1900.

    The SweAme website will continue to grow in size and usage as additional projects are funded and completed. This growth allows additional users (now over 700 from Sweden and America) an opportunity to research for their ancestors and relatives on both sides of the Atlantic. For more information, see SWEAME’s website.

    Submitted by David Borg




    Affiliate Events

    February 24, 2012 – Chicago, IL
    The Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration, a unique feature of the Swedish American Museum that attracts thousands of visitors each year, will celebrate its 10th Birthday Benefit with a special program for youngsters from toddler on up, that will include rowing a Viking ship, milking a cow on a Swedish farm, keeping house in a log cabin, or dressing up as an immigrant pioneer. While the kids play, members of their families will be entertained in the first-floor gallery with refreshments, games and a silent auction. Children will be admitted to the 10th birthday benefit at no charge. The cost to adults is $25 each. For more information, call 773-728-8111 or click here.

    February 25, 2012 – Austin, TX Take your pick of two feature length films and six shorts from Denmark, Iceland, Finland, and Sweden—or watch them all! The Austin Nordic Film Festival will consist of two blocks (3-6 pm and 7-10 pm) and an afterparty from 10 pm – 2 am. Cost is $8 per block. Mr. Tramp’s Euro Pub Screening Room. Reservations required. For more information, click here.

    March 3, 2012 – Des Plaines, IL
    Scandinavian Park Inc. NFP will present the 9th Annual Dinner Dance and Fundraiser for Vasa Park. The theme will be “Harvesting Scandinavian Traditions” and donation is $45 per person with dance music provided by the Dave Kyrk Trio. There will be a cash drawing and raffle table with prizes donated by Scandinavian organizations and businesses. Social hour 6:30 pm, dinner 7:30 pm. For reservations and information call 630-852-0598 or visit www.vasaparkil.com.

    March 8, 2012 – Palo Alto, CA
    The Europe Center and The Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts present Nelly Sachs: Flight and Metamorphosis, a reception, workshop and dramatic reading in celebration of the life and poetry, and the evocative context of Nelly Sachs, winner of the 1966 Nobel Prize for Literature. 4:30 pm – 7:30 pm. For more information about this event and to RSVP, click here.

    March 10, 2012 – Wauwatosa, WI
    The Swedish American Historical Society of Wisconsin presents a discussion on the immigration of our Swedish ancestors to America. Society members Historian Harry Anderson, George Lofgren and Darlene Norman will discuss immigrants’ dreams of America, their preparation for the trip and the treasures they brought with them to the New World. View records and documentation required for the voyage and some of the treasures of the trip passed on to their descendants. 1:30 p.m. at Redemption Lutheran Church. Visit www.sahswi.org or call 414-352-7890 for further information.




    News from Sweden

    2012 marks the centenary of the birth of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who saved the lives of 20,000 Jews during World War II. 2012 may also be the year that more is discovered about the fate of Wallenberg, who was arrested by Soviets in January 1945 when the Red Army invaded Budapest, and later imprisoned in Moscow. Russian officials announced in 1957 that Wallenberg had died in 1947 of a heart attack while still in prison. In 2000, however, Russian investigators said that he had instead been executed at the KGB headquarters in Moscow.

    Now, a former Russian archive official, Anatoly Prokopenko, has claimed that he came across a “thick dossier” during a 1991 tour of the KGB archive “containing numerous references to Raoul Wallenberg.” The document, which Prokopenko believes to be the report of an aristocrat, Count Mikhail Tolstoy-Kutuzov, to his Soviet intelligence handlers, suggested Tolstoy-Kutuzov was following Wallenberg’s every move. Prokopenko thinks Stalin may have ordered Wallenberg’s arrest based on this evidence, and that the full document may shed light on what really happened to Wallenberg. Russian officials have denied that such a document exists.



    Sweden may soon be home to a new bicycle superhighway. The proposed superhighway will connect two cities in southern Sweden: Malmö, Sweden’s third-largest city, and Lund. The 13-mile highway will have four lanes, two types of wind protection (low bushes and solid walls) and periodic bicycle service stations. It will be built along an existing railway (lowering construction costs), and will have exits but no intersections, allowing for uninterrupted travel.

    In Lund, 60% of commuters use bicycles or ride public transport. Malmö recently has invested in infrastructure to encourage cycling, which has led to a 30% increase in cycling each year and a decrease in car trips under 5 kilometers. The total cost of the superhighway is estimated to be around 50 million SEK ($7.1 million), and the construction would take 8 years.



    The advent of smartphones has changed how consumers do business in many ways. Now that retailers accept coupons on mobile devices and shoppers can be notified of nearby sales via their phones, more and more smartphone users want to be able to pay with their phones, and accept payment with them as well. Several Stockholm-based tech startups are leading the industry with options for customers and merchants to use the technology at their fingertips.

    iZettle launched a free card-reader in June that attaches to an iPhone, swipes a credit card, and processes payment. Payair allows smartphone users to point their phone’s camera at an object, scan a barcode and approve a purchase. Payex Mobile allows users to make transfers between mobile phones. Swedish mobile operator Telia predicts that at least half of all Swedes will use a mobile device to make a payment in the next two years.



    How much would you pay for a designated parking spot? In Stockholm, real estate agencies are betting drivers will spend a lot – a spot in the trendy Östermalm neighborhood recently sold for 700,000 kronor ($105,051). And that isn’t even the limit. “We’ve seen parking places being sold that were triple, even quadruple that price,” said real estate agent Peter Messeter.

    The price for the 2.5 by 6 meter parking spot translates to 100,000 kronor per square meter, which is much higher than the cost per square meter for an apartment in the same area. Even so, real estate agents say buying an expensive parkinig spot is a more economical decision than renting. The 700,000 kronor parking spot was also available for rent for 510 kronor per month.




    SCA Corporate Sponsors

    Swedish Council of America has launched a corporate sponsorship program. For more information, please contact antonio@swedishcouncil.org.

    We thank our sponsors and encourage you to learn more about the products and services they offer. Click on the logos below to be directed to their websites!







    Connect to us!

    Sweden & America

    The Sweden & America magazine is the perfectly priced gift for anyone who is interested in the Swedish heritage or Swedish America. Plus, with four issues a year, it is a gift that keeps on giving! Send your $20 subscription fee to SCA, 2600 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55407. Remember to include both your information and the gift recipient’s information!

    Social Media

    Join the conversation! Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. We look forward to “talking” with you.



    Slideshows on SCA’s website feature affiliate organizations independently or around a theme. Click here to view a slide show featuring holiday events and celebrations at our affiliate organizations.




    About Swedish Council of America

    Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Swedish Council of America, founded in 1972, unites around 300 affiliated organizations in the United States, Canada, and Sweden in their efforts to preserve and promote the Swedish heritage.

    Swedish Council of America supports and fosters cooperative relationships between all groups and individuals whose purpose is to promote knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the Swedish heritage in American life and strengthens contemporary cultural and educational ties between North America and Sweden.

    In carrying out this mission, Swedish Council of America focuses its support and services to SCA affiliated organizations through the following programs and activities:

    1. Communications
    2. Grants
    3. Awards and Recognition

    Swedish Council of America relies entirely on voluntary contributions from individual members of the Viking Circle annual fund and from its support organization, the Royal Round Table.

    You can support SCA’s vital mission by:

    • Making a financial contribution to our Viking Circle Annual Fund.
    • Joining the Three Crowns Society by including SCA in your estate plans. Please notify Elise of your intent.
    • Remembering someone important to you with a gift in his/her honor or memory.

    For more information visit www.swedishcouncil.org or contact SCA’s Executive Director Elise Peters by e-mail at elise@swedishcouncil.org or call 1-800-981-4722.