Posted on 29/10/2015 by

Nord-Norge United

Jeg har stor tror på et sterkt Nord-Norge, et tettere nordnorsk samarbeid og at vi blir sterkere sammen. Førstkommende mandag samles 430 nordlendinger til Agenda Nord-Norge i Stormen, Nord-Norges nye storstue og Bodøs nye kulturhus. Målet for samlingen er å bli enda bedre i den krevende øvelsen nordnorsk samarbeid.

TIL

I høst har debatten gått i Nord-Norges to største byer. Er Bodø en tvilsom samarbeidspartner og er Tromsø en slem storebror? Enkelte har ment at ideen om samarbeid i nord bare er en ide. Jeg tilhører de som mener at ideen lever, at Bodø-Tromsødebatten ikke er viktigs og at samarbeidet har mer kraft og er viktigere enn noen gang. Forskjellene mellom de nordnorske byene og fylkene er færre enn det som forener oss. Arctic Race, ordførersamarbeidet 06 og samarbeid om samferdselsprosjekter viser at det vel verd å søke mer samarbeid i nord.

I NHOs konjunkturbarometer for 3. kvartal er det tydeligere enn noen gang at Nord-Norge er viktig for norsk økonomi. Med Nordland som eksportmotor og 19 milliarder i eksport så langt i år øker Nord-Norges andel av fastlandseksporten til 10.3 prosent. Eksportveksten fra nord er på over 23 prosent og bedre skal det bli! Våre råvarer og våre opplevelser blir stadig mer ettertraktet. Den gunstige valutasituasjonen gjør at reiselivsopplevelser og overnattinger kan kjøpes med en rabatt på 30 prosent fra USA og 20 prosent fra Eurolandene.

Vi er i ferd med å vokse på oss velfortjent selvtillit i nord. Nordlyset, torsken, laksen, gassen, industriproduktene og teknologitjenestene selges med stor etterspørsel og til stadig større verdi. Der geografi, spredt bosetning og store avstand før var en ulempe gjør vi nordnorsk kompetanse, råvarer og opprinnelse til et fortrinn. Et voksende satellitt-marked har ekstra gunstige vilkår fordi KSAT kombinerer perfekt antenne-lokaliteter med perfekt nordnorsk kompetanse. Slik er det med en rekke varer og tjenester: Der vi før for langt unna markedene kan vi nå frem til markedene lettere enn noen gang eller skape ny, egne markeder.

Nord-Norges fremtid ligger i de unge grenseløses som verken ser kommune-, by- eller landegrenser som avgjørende. 13 grenseløse ungdommer er plukket ut til Agenda Nord-Norges ambassadørprogram. De utvalgte som er mellom 25 og 35 år har allerede hatt den første av seks samlinger. De har møtt ordførere, forskere, ledere og organisasjonsfolk på en reise mellom Bodø og Tromsø. De unge har stjerner i øynene, men det har jammen også de som har møtt ambassadørene. “Jeg skulle ønske det var meg” ble sagt av mange på veien, fordi det forstås at dette er unikt, viktig og nyttig.

Det sies ofte at vi i nord må samarbeide når vi kan og konkurrere når vi må. Førstkommende søndag møtes Bodø/Glimt og Tromsø IL til siste hjemmekamp i Eliteserien. For Glimt betyr kampen og “slaget om Nord-Norge” mindre enn på lenge. De har allerede gruset Tromsø på hjemmebane og ligger himmelhøyt over TIL på tabellen. For TIL betyr kampen alt! Vinner TIL er de så godt som sikret plass på øverste nivå også i 2016.

Selvsagt skal begge lagene spille for seier. Likevel håper jeg at Glimt er akkurat så god at TIL likevel vinner. Eller som Arthur Arntzen, en av tidenes mest kjente Glimt- og Tromsø-supportere sa det før cup-finalen i 1996: Måtte det beste laget vinne – over Bodø/Glimt.

Jeg ønsker oss alle lykke til i det videre samarbeidet. Ikke alle kan spille på Aspmyra og Alfheim, men alle kan være med i heiaropet for mer nordnorsk samarbeid og alle kan alle spille for det nye nordnorsk felleslaget!

Posted on 05/08/2014 by

When it’s “a quarter to cabin time”

– Where are they all going?

Don, my Singaporean journalist friend was sitting by the restaurant window watching people leaving the city. Briefcases and handbags, shorts, skirts and summer suits. They all raced past the restaurant window with quick, happy steps. It was only three  o`clock on a Friday, but the weekend was already well underway. Cheerful Norwegians were heading for their weekend paradise at their cabins outside Tromsø. They had not a second to loose. Don shook his head. In Norway you could apparently leave the office halfway through a Singaporean office day.

Illustration: Jens K Styve

Illustration: Jens K Styve

The five days in Norway had been full of surprises for my guest from Asia. As part of a journalist group he had seen junior employees aged 20 speak to their CEO’s as if they were old friends (They might very well be). They had experienced how the hotel’s staff overruled regulations and allowed breakfast serving an hour longer just to make the guests happy. My guests had also witnessed our fishing boat captain dive into the Barents Sea for a quick swim while the boat was kept idling. All probably quite unthinkable in more hierarchical Asian cultures.

Earlier on the Friday we had stopped our bus in a small fishing village. At the local cafe I met three old friends of mine. To my guest’s amazement all these three ladies wore tights. As a trained observer Don had previously noted that “every” Norwegian lady seemed to wear stretch tights either before training, during training, after training or even when they were considering to go training…  I had not noticed it, but realized that he was right. Norwegian women must have a thing for lycra!

Anyway, the three lycra ladies all happens to work in the marketing department of the city’s local newspaper.

– Why are they not at work, asked Don?

– They are, I answered, finding it a bit strange that Don did not see the papers spread out on the table.

– They have just ended a short hike to the mountain and now they have a strategy meeting, I explained patiently.

– But what will their boss say when they tell that they will not come to the office?

– Have a nice trip, I suggested.

Don, who is used to editors who talks in capital letter and breaths flames at their employees, shook his head again. He lit up as he passed on his follow-up question:

– But afterwards they head back to office, right?

– No. Then it’s time for the weekend break, I said.

– But what will  the boss say?

– Have a nice weekend, I replied.

Don was mildly shocked by the Norwegian flexibility. To him the work-life balance seemed to be 50 % work and 50 % play. In Singapore it’s said that the work/life balance is 90% work and 10 % balance.

I tried to explain that Norwegians are considered to be hardworking people.  Even if an employee can finish work at 4.30 most of my colleagues and friends works evenings from home. My explanations were like pop music for a retiree’s ears – not received well. In a moment of panic I stammered out that many even have internet at their weekend cabin. It had no effect. That my best  quick translation for cabin was “country house” hardly helped create an image of the little red house in the forest where hard-working Norwegians recharge their batteries .

During our Salmon trip to Norway Don and I had talked a lot about salmon, but probably more about living in this strange land of the north. When the journey was over and I was about to leave the group at the airport Don could probably see that I was in a hurry. He smiled as he thanked me for the trip and said: – Now you must hurry off. I guess you are off to the cabin?

Don was spot on. The family car had been packed since the previous evening. The clock was already “a quarter past cabin time” and I had no time to loose. The family was waiting in our car, ready for the week’s highlight – a weekend at the cabin. I’m not entirely sure, but I think my wife wore lycra tights.

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All the best

Christian Chramer

Et bål i skogen kan være den store lykken
Posted on 10/06/2014 by

Mindfullness the Norwegian way

If I were CEO of Visit Norway I would have sold nothing. Absolutely nothing, mixed with Norwegian hospitality and homemade ​​food. Let me try to explain:

Once upon a time Norwegian Seafood Council’s representative in Southeast Asia was hosting a press group from Hong Kong in Norway. My colleague had just taken a break from his guide duties after a long day of sightseeing. Having seen mountains, fjords, iconic railway routes and salmon farms the bus was now passing a desolate mountain area. Suddenly one of the journalists came running to the front pledging for the bus to stop. My colleague tried to tell the journalist that there was little to see, but was told that it was the very point: “We have never seen nothing before”!

The fact that “nothing” can be something is easy to understand. We Norwegians also appreciate a calm fjord, a deserted mountain lake and the quiet comfort of our simple cabin. However if we receive visitors from abroad we still choose to take our guests to noisy restaurant or visit a museum with lots of people and little information in other languages than Norwegian.

This past year I have hosted five press trips from Asia to Norway and realized that I have so much to learn. I thought that it was important to take the journalist to some of the best restaurants in Norway. That was until I discovered that the guests had been to some of the best restaurants in the world. Molecular gastronomy and dishes with “hints of salmon” did not impress them. Homemade cod gratin and traditional Norwegian salmon at a  café in Oslo however was received with great enthusiasm.

At my first press trips I planned a breathless itinerary. Like all great battle plans they look good only to their first encounter with reality. The mood can become sweaty on so many levels when your plan says “get dressed in five minutes “ and it takes the guests an hour to don thermo suits for a ride on the ocean. Many guests would undoubtedly consider it to be an extreme experience just to dress in the clothing and equipment required to have reasonably comfortable day in Norway.
Come to think of it most things Norwegian are “extreme” for Asian guests: Temperature, nature, light, lack of light, northern light, midnight sun and the activities we take them on.

A visitor who has never been in an open boat is likely to believe that the first boat trip also will be her last. I now regret that I took Taiwanese journalist wave jumping in a speed boat and a six hour RIB trip. Maybe we should have limited it to a five-minute ride in the harbor? They filmed and photographed as energetic if they saw a crow on the dock, a sheep on the shoreline or an eagle catching fish in a fjord.

What is worth documenting and what causes a stir constantly surprises me. I have never thought that there were reasons to warn our guest against the immediate nature shock waiting at the parking lot at Tromsø’s Airport. Kvaløya or “Whale Island” as it is known in Norwegian is the first thing you see when you leave the arrival hall. I am probably influenced by my mother who thinks Whale Island looks like a crashed Christmas tree. For a journalist from Singapore that visited Tromsø with me in June found the airport revelation to be magic. She dropped her bags and with her hands to her cheeks like an Asian version of Edvard Munch’s “Scream”  she claimed that the view was “so beautiful that it hurts”. I dared not disagree and skipped my intetion of revealing the reference to an overturned Christmas tree.

After I had taken my guests from Singapore to Tromsø’s tourist attractions, their life’s first fishing trip and a salmon farm I invited them home to my parents. Serving waffles, cake and coffee was so successful that “visit a Norwegian family” is incorporated into all my press trips. Nothing brings people closer than sitting around a family’s dining table, eating homemade food browsing the family albums. The extra cost of such hospitality is that pictures of the Chramer family anno 1980 now appears in newspapers and television programs in Asia. My dad with his Tom Selleck mustache, mom with her orange jump suit, my brother with the bowl cut and me from  my grade one picture where I had tattooed my hands with the giant marker pen, Penol 500.

I think both the Seafood Council and Norway’s tourism industry have much to gain from exploring the differences between Asia and Norway. ” Mindfulness” is a buzzword for both Norway’s national soccer team and the global consulting industry. Norway is the very essence of “mindfulness” and that’s something busy Asians will pay a lot to experience. We can never compete in the number of five-star hotels, Hermes stores or pulsating city life. What we have and may charge for is the slow-moving, unique experiences of nothing that we can offer.
Visit Norway can easily organize tours where guests pay for winter adventures where they light their own fire and boil a cup of coffee. If you don’t become mindful from playing in the snow, sitting around the campfire or looking at the Northern Lights from a reindeer skin you will never be.
If the Northern Lights does not appear at the arctic sky that’s not a problem. Most Asians are so full of visual impressions that to see “nothing” is an experience in itself. Maybe that should be our new tourism slogan: “Visit Norway – see nothing like never before“.

 

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