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East Meets West

A moment in time, an historic change: We wanted to celebrate the historic occasion of a combined Vestkusten and Nordstjernan and chose this photo of a Princess cake, omitting candles since today marks the birth of a new generation of Swedish American publishing. We’ll save the candle for next year. /Ulf Mårtensson, Publisher

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With the first issue of a combined Nordstjernan and Vestkusten, we bring you something new and different: a combined, truly nation-wide newspaper—the largest independent Swedish-American periodical in the U.S. (Actually, competition is scarce these days.) This combined periodical will have a slightly different format, remain tabloid-size, is printed on better paper and on both coasts to avoid a postal delay. Indeed, the latter change will bring advantages to the growing national audiences of both newspapers. You'll find our first Page One and learn more about subscribing at www.nordstjernan.com

You won’t see our beautiful logos on the cover again. Although we will stick to the name Nordstjernan, we have changed the presentation of the name on page one. And as for everything else, it has changed or will change, too—with your continuous input and support, no doubt for the better.

Nordstjernan, founded in 1872, will continue the legacy of Vestkusten, founded in 1866, covering much of what is happening along the Pacific coastline. This means that you will find more pages of news and features on relevant events, activities, people and traditions from the entire continent.

To continue local events coverage on the west coast—editorial coordinator is Anna Connell, a native of Lund, Sweden, who has lived with her family in LA since 1995—we are developing the means to do this in the best possible ways. (It will take some time before we have all things in place so please allow us a couple months to get settled.) To do that most successfully, we need to know what you need and want, so we need your input: We are setting up new services to make it easy for everyone to share thoughts and ideas as well as important events.

The way I see it
Vestkusten, just like Nordstjernan, is and always has been an institution.
Institutions have no owners, no principals other than their audiences, their constituents, who in essence ‘own’ them. That makes me more of a caretaker, just as Barbro Sachs Osher has been a devoted, hard-working caretaker of Vestkusten for so many years. We have equally hard-working help to accomplish the task of safeguarding these institutions, but they (the institutions) will in reality never be stronger than their audiences—the institutions’ real principal, i.e., you, the reader and fellow Swede or Swedish American.

Things have changed drastically since your last issue and they will continue to change. Change, as we all know, is neither good nor bad. It just is and becomes what we make of it. We live in fascinating times to make the best of change, a time when we can share our thoughts and actions easily. It’s never been easier to communicate over country or state borders, over generations, groups or organizations—there truly is “…neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,” to use a relevant fraction of Rudyard Kipling’s Ballad of East and West of 1895. We have the tools today to reach out and make our institution a forum for our interests, for ourselves, for what matters to us. We just have to raise the bar and look beyond what is today.

At no other point in time did the individual - person or organization - possess better means to communicate his or her opinion fully and freely to a large group of recipients.
Nordstjernan is no exception. In addition to offering the framework of summaries of Swedish and Swedish American news and a selection of columnists that together bring a variety of viewpoints to the pages, we request that

- you feel we should do something differently;
- you want to add something you feel is important for the whole community;
- someone or a group did something that should be shared with a much larger group, share it and contribute: DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
We set up two secure servers - accessible over the internet - to make it safe and easy to work together. Feel free to use them right away —

Contributing events or photos
Vestkusten will never be the same, neither will Nordstjernan. They will together become what we make of them. We will hand you the tools to contribute, to communicate, both in the paper and on community pages over the internet. Some of those tools are already waiting for you: If you go to Upload Center at www.nordstjernan.com, you can already contribute something for our event listings or a photo with a caption from an upcoming or recent event or a special person. Take a look right now: www.nordstjernan.com

Subscriber service
Many people today look to the Internet for their daily dose of information. To us, the Internet is also a way to communicate better with you. Your subscription can already be accessed though an interactive fulfillment system, carefully handled on a secure Web server, by using your account number and zip code. In the coming 2-3 months, we will further develop this interactive service to include special offers for you regular readers and paying subscribers for books, art, photography, and a limited number of products we feel rightly communicate our shared heritage and interests. Take a look (you need your Subscriber ID + zip code): www.nordstjernan.com

Privilege and obligation
The road ahead won’t always be easy, but then again, happiness is really about being on the way. Everything we do, we do to make it easier for us to deliver a better publication to you, and to support the individuals and organizations in Swedish America. And at no point in history were the tools more appropriate or the times better than right now to make good things happen for the preservation of updated traditions and the safeguarding of our heritage into the 21st century. Upholding this is indeed both our privilege and an obligation.

“One for all…”
There are many different kinds of interest groups in Swedish America. Nordstjernan – Vestkusten is there for all of us, not just the few. The new, expanded Nordstjernan is a forum for discussion. I have previously called Nordstjernan a living bulletin board for Swedish-America and one thing is certain: We will continue to increase our coverage of life in Sweden and Swedish-America today.

I don’t believe there is such a thing as objective reporting. Only by covering an issue from many subjective angles can we arrive at an objective opinion. Opinions expressed in Nordstjernan are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff and management of Nordstjernan or Swedish News, Inc.

It is our wonderful fate to be just at the beginning, in all areas. “Most things still remain to be done—a glorious future!” is one of the phrases coined – and lived—by IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad, a role model for us all. (To see the article from our latest interview with this super entrepreneur, go to www.nordicreach.com/articles/people/22/).

We hope you’ll enjoy our upcoming changes. Let me know what you think, in a regular letter or via email, through ulf@nordstjernan.com.

Ulf Mårtensson
Publisher, Swedish News, Inc.
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