Norwegian photojournalists seek stories

“Brown cheese for stories!”  That’s what Norwegian 
photojournalists Kristian Balsrod, Anton Ligaarden, and Katinka Hustad 
will be offering to Cook County residents of Norwegian heritage – or 
locals with good Sven & Ole jokes.
The three University of Oslo students arrived in Cook County on June 
12 for a four-week stay during which they will start filming a 
documentary intended to find out how much Norwegian culture remains 
alive in descendants of the 50 percent of the Norwegian population 
that emigrated to the United States several generations ago.  Indeed, 
the population of Norwegian-Americans – close to five million – is 
about as large as the current population of Norway.  They also hope to 
get a sense for whether Norwegian heritage will still mean something 
to Norwegian-Americans 50 years from now.
“Norwegians have no idea how they’ve gone out and made a mark on 
the world,” said Balsrod, who with his colleagues stopped by the Cook 
County News-Herald office seeking help in finding Norwegian-Americans 
for their project. They are hoping to interview people of all ages.
Balsrod, Ligaarden, and Hustad started the project three years ago.  
The final product will be a new form of documentary Balsrod calls an 
“interactive web documentary.”  Offered on the Internet, it will 
include educational links and opportunities for people to leave 
comments and get in touch with each other.  They also hope to use the 
project to teach young Norwegians about their own emigration history.
The researchers plan to return for two weeks in December and then 
again next spring.
The photojournalists have funded this phase of their project on their 
own.  Their first order of business is to create a pilot they can use 
in seeking grant funding for the next phases of the project.  Toward 
that end, they are organizing an event in which they hope to draw 
potential interviewees, luring them with “brun ost” – Norwegian 
brown cheese – with bread and butter.  “That in exchange for some 
good Norwegian stories of the area and possibly some good Sven & Ole 
jokes,” said Balsrod.
The brown cheese event had not been scheduled yet, but at Balsrod’s 
request, this News-Herald Associate Editor Jane Howard agreed to be a 
contact person for people interested in being part of this project.  
The News-Herald’s phone number is (218)387-9100.  Balsrod can also be 
reached via email at kristian.balsrod@gmail.com.