Another way to get publicity is to realize you are an expert at what you do. This is never more true than when you write a book because people who have not written a book are envious of those who have. You’re an expert on that subject. Sometimes publicity falls in your lap as happened to me, though because of a tragic event. I wrote a memoir, Beyond the Cold: An American’s Warm Portrait of Norway, which shows how, I, though not of Norwegian descent, developed an affinity for the country, culture and people, beginning when I lived in Norway for a year with my family at age 11, and my return trips as an adult.
On Friday, July 22, 2011, Anders Breivik set off a bomb in the center of Oslo, then went to the island of Utøya, where the Labour Party was having a youth retreat. He slaughtered almost 70 young people, including a friend of my friend’s 18-year old daughter. This occurred at the confluence of another event. In Summer 1992, I attended the International Summer School at the University of Oslo with 500 students from 70 countries. In 1996, I planned a trip around the 50th anniversary of the ISS. Before I left, I was contacted by the student organizer asking me to speak as an alum at the event.
That tragic Friday was the week before the 65th anniversary event and I had planned to e-mail good wishes that day. While I worried about the safety of my Norwegian friends, I worried that ISS could be a target. I issued a statement that Mt. Airy Patch used. The following Sunday, I found messages on my Facebook and LinkedIn pages, voice mail, and e-mail from Pat Loeb of KYW Radio. Notice the different media channels she tried. She was looking for someone to interview with a Norwegian connection. She Googled and found me. I didn’t think it was proper to mention the book under the circumstances, but I was introduced as a Norway expert and she mentioned the ISS’ upcoming 65thanniversary. She used the quote (about 10 seconds) when I talked about what made the ISS successful, but the point was, “This (Anders Breivik) is not the Norway I know.” She also interviewed a college professor. I am a member of the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce Philadelphia, which didn’t exist then. She could have had a choice of actual Norwegians to offer reactions. But, she found me.
I attended the reception heralding the opening of the two-month – September 15-November 15—Global Philly™ 2015 Exposition. During this time, there will be over 150 events celebrating the multi-cultural diversity and “global impact of Philadelphia and the region.” The biennial event is being presented by Global Philadelphia Association and its members. Events are associated with 12 categories – Advocacy, Arts, Commerce, Cuisine, Education, Family Friendly, Global Events, Heritage, Nation Days, Science & Technology, Sports and Project World Heritage City.
I was happy to represent the Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce Philadelphia, but found myself proud of my city. While I have an affinity for Norway as a non-Norwegian, I was born and bred in Philadelphia. I have endured many losing sports seasons and disappointing ends to winning seasons, with a couple of championships thrown in there. I’ve heard the jokes about Philadelphia and criticisms of Philadelphia sports fans, many of which the statute of limitations should have run out long ago. I’ve also felt Philadelphia is underrated.
Philadelphia is on the move in the international stage. Pope Francis will visit in a few weeks, and next summer the Democratic National Convention will come to town, two major coups. The expo is a lead-in to a Nov. 6 vote in Peru on whether to designate Philadelphia a World Heritage City. If successful, Philadelphia will be the first
American city to receive the honor.
In his remarks, Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Director of Commerce, said Mayor Nutter has been traveling extensively in his second term, attempting to set up sister relationships with foreign cities and expanding the visibility and awareness of Philadelphia. During the Mayor’s first term, Greenberger made many of these trips. Erik Evjen, Director of Research at the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (and a native of Norway), told the crowd more than $500 million in tourist dollars were spent here last year, a steady increase.
A light and fun atmosphere pervaded the reception held at WHYY, one of the media partners. I met an official from the Netherlands
and a graphic designer from the same country. Hats representing different countries were on a table and guests were encouraged to try one and have their picture taken next to a cut out figure of the Pope. “I’m not Catholic,” I told the photographer, Alfred B. For. “Neither am I,” he replied. A wall allowed attendees to post “I am Offering…” and “I Am Seeking…” services.
The city is a lot more multi-cultural than we thought. Global Philadelphia members include Honorary Consul Generals from Sweden, Panama, Lithuania, Korea, Sierra Leone, Italy, El Salvador, Portugal, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Mexico, Ghana, Belgium, Brazil, Pakistan, Denmark, Chile, Uruguay, Poland, Finland, Latvia, Haiti, Austria, Japan, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Malta, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Guatemala, France, Romania, Israel, Norway and Germany. German American Chamber of Commerce, Middle Atlantic Eurasian Business Council, Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce, Swedish American Chamber of Commerce, Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia, Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, Alliance Francaise de Philadelphie, Asia Society of New York, Brazil Cultural Center of Greater Philadelphia, China Partnership of Greater Philadelphia, Citizen Diplomacy International, Flemish in the World, Global Education Motivators, Global Interdependence Center, Lithuanian Music Hall Association, Main Line Chinese Cultural Center, Mexican Cultural Center, Multicultural Art Exchange, National Hispanic Institute, Pan American Association of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia are among the business and cultural association members. The Chambers want to attract business interests from their countries to Philadelphia. They feel Philadelphia has much to offer.
Global Philadelphia has broad-based membership and support, including the City, colleges, historical sites, hospitals,individual members and more. Sponsors of the expo include PCVB, Lockheed Martin, Progressive Business Publications, Connelly Foundation, gphomestay, and Team Pennsylvania Foundation, while media partners include Center City Film & Video, Al Dia News Media, The Inquirer/Daily News/philly.com, WHYY, WPHL 17, 95.7 BEN FM, I Heart Media and EveryBlock.
The brochure of events is called Passport. For more information about the expo, click here.