How did you find out about the Friends of Norway Caucus?
Minnesota has nearly 1.5 million Norwegian Americans who have proudly called it their home for generations. About 70 percent of the 5th Congressional District is comprised of folks with Norwegian, Swedish, and German heritage. Naturally, I assumed there must be a Norwegian Caucus in the Congress. And if there wasn’t — I would start one! As it turns out, I found out about the Friends of Norway Caucus from my constituents.
Why did you join the Friends of Norway Caucus?
It was a natural choice since many Minnesotans are inextricably bound to their Norwegian heritage. Additionally, Norway has long been a facilitator of peace and diplomacy — two causes about which I care deeply. Norway also sets a great example of how a country can sustain both a vibrant economy and a high quality of life for all of its citizens.
What are the areas of concern to your constituents in regards to Norway? In what ways do they wish to have links to Norway?
My constituents are passionate about environmental issues, and Norway is on the cutting edge of green energy research and climate change advocacy. Norwegians and Minnesotans agree that climate change is a global challenge.
I wish to strengthen the relationships I made on my first visit to Norway in 2007. That trip was an enlightening experience because it reinforced the many new opportunities to strengthen the bond between Minnesota and Norway – economically, socially, and politically.
In what areas do you think Norway and the U.S. should cooperate?
We should cooperate in efforts to build dialogue and strengthen diplomacy with other countries around the world. We should also cooperate in developing our respective green energy industries.
Who is your favorite Norwegian politician?
I admire Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway. In addition to mastering Norwegian politics, Mrs. Brundtland is also a diplomat, physician, and an international leader in sustainable development and public health. She is now making great strides in the fight to stop climate change.
Why do your constituents of Norwegian ancestry care about Norway now that they live in America?Minnesotans hold their heritage, with its rich culture and traditions, close to their hearts. Most Minnesotans share common progressive values with their Norwegian kin, tirelessly striving for a peaceful global community. Many still have relatives who live in Norway and they wish to preserve family ties.
There are also connections to Norway through our educational institutions such as Augsburg College in Minneapolis, which was the first seminary founded by the Norwegian Lutheran Church in America. Another prominent connection is the Sons of Norway organization in Minneapolis, which helps promote and preserve Norwegian heritage and culture. Minnesotans are enriched by their connection to Norway.