Huge Demand for Heirloom Skills & Heirloom Ideas

Spring Grove ancestors were self-reliant through interdependence.

“To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts…” Constitution of the United States, Section 8 (emphasis added)

Online advertisers know how to monitor the online pulse of internet users in any given population. We can see the keywords that anonymous people living in any particular region in the US are typing into Google, Bing, etc. In addition to exercise-related keywords, in the last few years there has been a massive resurrection of interest in words that were the staple of our ancestors lives for hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of years. People are craving heritage information on canning, farming, gardening, raising animals, hunting, etc.

What about Norwegian-Americans?  We don’t typically like to rock the boat, or to appear different. We have become particularly concerned with what our neighbors are up to and thinking. So it might be of interest to us to learn that our neighbors are increasingly up to learning useful skills and controversial ideas. Our neighbors are apparently thinking that many of the crafts associated with being “a good Norwegian” American are probably more of a manifestation of late 20th century boredom and lack of heritage stewardship than of anything authentically Norwegian. Some of these finer ethnic arts might not even be very recognizable to our actual ancestors. Those crafts that our ancestors would most recognize would be more practical. Some of our practical ancestors would, no doubt, claim that a person didn’t know anything if they didn’t know how to tie a certain knot or fix a certain type of wheel or something idiosyncratic like that, just as there are people in Spring Grove today who call others idiots for not knowing much about the particular skills that they learned. However, in every generation there have been the more reflective of individuals who would see the principles behind the particulars. They would say that a reverance for the particulars without the guidance of principles was foolishness.  After all, why should mere activities, or the things created by those activities receive more respect than the care and sense of responsibility that caused the people to want to do the activity? Activities should be imitated by successive generations only insofar as they are the most cost-effective means of completing each generation’s duties, as revealed by the light of each generation’s understanding of transcendental principles. If we fail to understand this, we become like those who have forgotten to “walk in the light” of their ancestors, as it is written,

Their land is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their fingers have made. (Isa 2:8)

Virtually all of our ancestors were concerned with practical activities six days a week. The seventh day was set aside for spiritually reflective or doctrinally interpretive activities. Our ancestors’ bodies and minds did not grow stagnant because their activities challenged them. Family and community elders, who were charged with stewarding culture were not afraid to provoke the population with ideas. And, because the Bible is so full of apparently conflicting ideas, they were exposed to a lot of different ideas in their religious studies. The prophets certainly were not afraid of provoking the people. For the most part, our ancestors were a people who read widely and discussed ideas while performing their chores. They knew from reading Isaiah and Jeremiah that true empowering heritage emerges out of a deliberation in which the participants all want to help “keep the most important thing the most important thing” for future generations. A deliberation without ideas cannot be one from which true heritage emerges.

Nonprofits abandon ideas, and turn to inoffensive entertainment

Today, nonprofits claiming to act as the vanguard of our cultural heritage (museums, churches, schools) are afraid of offending potential grant-givers with ideas that someone might possibly disagree with. Anything that could be deemed as too religious, too secular, too complicated, too practical, too serious, etc. must not enter into their vocabulary.  They fear more offending a donor than they fear the judgment of their grandchildren, who will remember them as having abandoned them. For that reason, most nonprofits have found it safer to focus on the non-controversial, the innocuous, the entertaining, the useless, and the decadent.

The “artist” Nero fiddled while Rome burned

Why do we have to dumb down the intellectual inheritance we’ve received from our ancestors to the lowest common denominator? Does it make us feel better about ourselves to portray them as craft-making vegetables? For those of us who have talked with elders, and who have read their writings and diaries, we know that they often read widely, thought deeply, and exercised backbone, even in the face of privation and scorn. This is because they realized that what was at stake when they were defending, deconstructing, and reconstructing their culture was their children and grandchildren. How can they possibly be honored by nonprofit yes-men whose primary duty is to keep their jobs rather than to complete the higher mission of transmitting wisdom and guidance to future generations? How will history judge a generation of spineless ones who’ve disfigured our ancestors and represented them as craftmaking automatons who were devoid of ideas? Are the pots more to be revered than the potter? The 19th century was a century of ideas and, by far, more of our Norwegian and Norwegian-American ancestors read the works of philosophy, anthropology, biology, theology, and literature than carved giant wooden spoons. So why don’t we honor real culture which exists in the height of our people’s actualization of their capacity for foresight?

What could be more offensive than an organization that disfigures your ancestors into people who were not reading, thinking, and communally deliberating people? While we might be a generation that fails to understand our responsbility to preserve, deconstruct, and refine that which we pass on to our children so that they can bring about the greatest good in life with their limited resources, we should not dishonor our ancestors by projecting our generationalist idiosyncracies upon them. To require the absence of existential or theological ideas, as has been strongly suggested, from a Heritage forum is nothing short of an abomination. To require the absence of religious references, as has been strongly suggested, in a heritage center’s writings, when religious leaders were the ones charged with heritage stewardship for thousands of years, is the ultimate irony and a blatant form of revisionism.

In this ocean of nonprofit institutions that have caved in to all the powers that be to become innocuously idea-less, we need you to stand with us and help us maintain our integrity. Even if everything written in this blog is wrong, you can be confident that as long as reason is free to combat it, a true heritage that empowers our descendants will emerge from this debate. If we cave into demands that all ideas cease, then you will have nothing but more of the same innocuous, entertaining, ethnically-associated, useless, space taking-up, kitsch to idolize. Will Giants of the Earth stay true to its charge of bringing you heritage ideas and representing your ancestors and you as people who did not shy away from ideas? That is up to you.

From the writings of our ancestors, we know that some of them drank deeply from the fountains of wisdom, while others only gargled.

During their six days of work, our ancestors got plenty of exercise from their practical activities, which usually kept them healthy and fit. Crafty, sedentary activities after a long day of sedentary work, were fairly foreign to them. Although there were activities, like tatting and quilting, that enabled people to be somewhat productive during their “free” time, our ancestors did not necessarily see a need to generate all the items that we think are fun to show on our mantlepieces, walls, cupboards, crutch tables, shelves, and in our spare rooms, extra houses, etc. Realizing this, Midwestern American are increasingly asking themselves, after reading national bestselling books such as One Second After, “How much good will those 37 rosemalled bowls, spoons, and lefse turners do if times get rough?” Even if times don’t get rough, their keyword searches indicate that they now believe that they could be doing something else which would better help them to understand the skills and spiritual understanding of their ancestors?

Sabbath reflection gave meaning to the rest of the week’s work

How much does seeing those 37 rosemalled items on our walls really tell us about our Norwegian ancestors’ inner pioneer strengths?

How much does seeing those 37 rosemalled items on our walls really tell us about our Norwegian ancestors’ inner pioneer strengths and their convictions about the importance of living the life of simplicity, austerity, frugality, hard work, and service to family and extended family?

Most of us must remember at least one elderly person in our family who warned us about our generation’s focusing on “fluff” and “show” and spoke of the “crafts-race” and the “nicest vehicle race” as just as dangerous as the “arms-race.” This person usually reminded us that most people in our generation had their priorities mixed up. According to them, we wanted to seem more than to actually be. We want to seem wealthy, we want to seem like we have leisure time, we want to seem smart. We rationalize our imprudent spending by saying to ourselves, like Enron executives, that, because nothing succeeds like that which appears successful, we need to look successful. So, we tell ourselves, it is absolutely imperative that we look like we are succeeding. Most people in a small community who have been around for a while know that some of the poorest looking people are those who are the richest and the richest looking people are actually the poorest. When things go bad, the poorest looking people usually can pull out massive reserves and do just fine, while the richest looking people not only are in massive debt, but their creditors are pulling in the line. They have borrowed the money to buy the rope that is now around their necks. Just watch the recent movie, The Joneses.

Did you have a grandparent who reminded you of the kind of principles that Stephen Covey writes about in his 7 Habits…, like “you can’t have trust without trustworthiness”? Did he or she tell you that “you can’t have wealth without prudent resource management”? Did they offend you by criticizing certain fun activities as “mere amusement.” Perhaps your grandparent seemed, back then, to be merely a crotchety old person. Well, judging from anonymous keyword searches conducted in the last two years by tens of millions of Americans, a lot of people are now secretly agreeing with him. Countries, like China, that allowed themselves to be ruled by crotchety old men stressing self-reliance and national self-control, now hold a disconcerting amount of America’s debt. We Americans, who pride ourselves on our wishful thinking and democratic responsiveness to generationalist whims, have let ourselves be led by those who have told us what we wanted to believe. We have ignored our crotchety old men and listened to our dreamers who appealed to our desire for instant gratification. We are not insanely in debt to countries who have a human rights records as bad as Egypt under the Pharoahs. As a result, we are now in more relative debt than the Hebrews were to the Egyptians before they were enslaved by them. This realization seems to trouble some Americans.

Massive online input of keywords related to practical and spiritual heirlooms? Why?

From Monday through Saturday, practical activities were a major part of our ancestors’ lives: if these activities had not been…their children would not have survived in tough times and, consequently, we would not be here today. On Sunday, our ancestors reflected, both as a group and individually, on stories that had been passed down in texts, covering issues of stewardship, sustainability, and duty. Their familiarity with scripture, and different doctinal interpretations of it, allowed them to understand a deeper meaning of the “double edged sword” they called the Word. These days,  everyone appears to be typing in “The Lost Word” and Americans are gobbling up Dan Brown’s latest work, which hints of a deeper meaning to the parables–one that becomes evident only with scriptural familiarity and critical reflection. Whether or not Dan Brown actually understands this Lost Word is not apparent in his writing, but it is apparent that he has talked with people who are “in the know” and they have given him very descriptive hints which he has passed along. The deeper meaning of the Word is self-sealing in the sense that, when one discovers it, in very short order they also discover the reason to keep it semi-sealed in allegory. If Dan Brown is actually in the know, this may be the reason why there are so many red herrings in his writings, so as to apparently lead the unworthy astray. It is rare to find an exception to this, that is, someone in the know who is willing to share his pearls. Some might hold them guilty, but it is a case much like in Wag the Dog, when Robert DeNiro’s character (Brean) is released from questioning for faking a war, and he says to himself  “…they just hadn’t thought it through…”

Parents provided hints for generations to their children to help them “think things through” and find a deeper meaning. Grandparents told grandchildren how to read between the lines and make connections to earlier scripture that would inoculate them from the dark winnowing sayings. Intelligent people who were familiar with scriptures understood from other passages in the Bible what passages such as Mark 16:18 meant when they read “they shall handle serpents, and if they drink any mortal poison, it shall do them no hurt.” They knew that handling poisonous snakes and drinking deadly poison had both a deeper meaning and a shallower meaning. Only those who fail to understand the deeper meaning feel the foolhardy need to handle actual poisonous snakes or drink actual poisons to prove their beliefs. And many, many have died from being bitten or drinking poison, indicating that they actually failed to understand the deeper meaning. At some point, the ability of the spiritually actualized grandparents to direct the studies of the youth was broken by changes in social structure. A greater portion of our ancestors’ time was spent paying for a growing Federal government and interest on a growing Federal debt through taxes, or keeping up with a hidden tax known as inflation, in which the government devalued the people’s savings by printing money out of thin air to pay for its consumption. A greater portion of their children’s time was spent doing homework and being involved with activities organized by a public education system. While these changes may have benefitted the majority of people in the short run, the activation energy necessary to uncover the esoteric meaning of The Word was lost and so to, the mature stewardship that stems from that deeper understanding. Today, Americans are googling like never before to find that “Lost Word.” How will they find the meaning that allowed their spiritually actualized ancestors to do those simple, practical things that just a few years ago, in our confidence in steady progress, seemed so insignificant to us? Will they, in their anger against the failings of the secular way, introduce their children to a literal intepretation of the gospel and begin handling literal snakes? Or will they, in their love for their children, repeat the words of Solomon

“My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight…” Proverbs 3:21

Today, kids are baraged with advice to listen to their hearts from commercials and commercialized entertainment rather than to follow the dictates of sound judgment. Of course, our ancestors always had the temptation to squander money on the impractical and showy, but back then, there was no short supply of starving families who exemplified the story of the grasshopper and the ant. Thus, when our ancestors settled in Spring Grove, they built a simple cabin and barn to keep their families alive, but, before they built a nice house for themselves, they helped build a church–because they knew that empowering self-control, community cooperation, and wisdom were far more important than living in a luxurious house during hard times and even during easy times. Most people today say publicly that they are not concerned about hard times and that everything will be fine in the future. We computer administrators know, however, that many of those same people must be going back home and typing in keywords to learn about self-reliance, just in case.

It is pretty safe to say that we all desire a sustainable higher quality of life for ourselves and our descendants, under all potential future conditions. We italicize the word “sustainable” because history has taught us that just when people have smugly believed they could predict the future, they fall flat on their face because a paradigm shift occurs that upsets  those things upon which they assumed they could always rely. Today we want appear confident and optimistic.  Yet never before have communities been so dependent upon technologies that no one fully understands or can fix without other fragile technologies, should they fail. Never before have the supply lines for those things we need to keep our loved ones alive been so long and delicate. Just think of where most of our suppliers get their medicine, their food, their fuel for heat. How long they could continue to supply us if they were not resupplied, on a daily or weekly?

On a slightly different, but interconnected note, we might add that never before have people’s primary source of experiences been through technological mediums. Communication through many of these technological mediums are recorded for electronic phishing analysis (like your cell phone conversations and your internet communications) so that your all-benevolent government can protect you from yourself, or, in the case of emails, so advertisers can find you. Advertisers have access to all sorts of your activities, and not just the ones you do online. Once you buy your first diaper using a credit card it seems you go on a list to receive 20 lbs of junk mail a week for newborn parents. People’s behaviors and opinions have never been more monitored, as you can see in the beginning of this article, anyone can monitor online keyword popularity in a region with a few hours of work. Further, our sense of reality no longer comes from interacting with people, but through a television-induced pseudoreality in which whole groups of people can be demonized with ease and in which activities that are dangerous or unsustainable can be glamorized. We recreate these scenes in our daily interactions, much like children replay the activities they see in their shows. By the time a generation has learned how little free will it has exercised and how much it has been a puppet, the next generation enters in, just as foolhardy and susceptible to the siren songs of the media.

This generation is more susceptible than ever to subversion because of our unhealthy dependency on others who don’t care about us. The recognition of our dependency makes us conscious of the fact that we are in a state of heteronomy.

heteronomy: the state or condition of being under the influence or domination, in a moral, spiritual, or similar sense, of another person, entity, force, etc. Cf. autonomy.heteronomous, adj (Free Online Dictionary)

Our recognition that we are in a state of heteronomy then leads us to recognize the inauthenticity of our actions. Many believe themselves capable of  a life of irony, claiming to be a patriot while habitually compromising on our founding principles. In the end, each compromise leads them closer to the slippery slope from which no patriot ever returns. Down this slope go the type of psychophants that Samuel Adams spoke about when he said:

“If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel… Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.” – Samuel Adams

Unhealthy dependency leads to insecurity; heteronomy leads people to stop thinking for themselves and start posturing themselves in a way that they believe those monitoring them would most desire;  inauthenticity leads people to become out of touch with reality and have unrealistic expectations. If one of the greatest parts of our heritage, as Ole Rolvaag spoke of, is our freedom, then we must act to safeguard that freedom by promoting the capacity for healthy local interdependent self-sufficiency, as well as the capacity for autonomy, in order to promote authenticity, without which there is no freedom.

Who Mourned the Loss of Interdependent Self-Reliance, Autonomy, Authenticity?

Even our incumbant leaders tell us that the future is very uncertain, with problems ranging from dysfunctional, perhaps criminal, stewardship of national monetary policy; to age-old geopolitical subversion entering new technological mediums; to new threats such as electro-magnetic pulse weapons-which could easily wipe out nearly all of America’s electronic devices and the vehicles that depend on them. The recent best seller, One Second After, portrays graphically American’s absolute dependence on electronic equipment that would fail all across America one second after the detonation of three small EMPs at strategic locations in the atmosphere. Realizing most Americans’ absolute dependence upon transportation and electricity for their survival and security, hundreds of thousands of families are quietly getting prepared by following FEMA guidelines to stock 3 days of food. Stewardship-conscious small communities are recognizing that it will take much longer than 3 days to recover from an EMP and that true self-reliance can only happen at the community level. Further, looking at Hurrican Katrina, or areas around the world where UN police actions have occurred, some people in small town America aren’t sure if the response wouldn’t be as bad as the problem. They are trying to understand what they can do now to preserve those things that they hold dearest, no matter what conditions may come. Further, as tyrants from days of old have never let a crisis go to unexploited, one of our best defenses against tyrany would be to minimize the chances of a crisis that would temporarily blind the people’s eyes to the dangers of forfeiting their rights.

Thus, to promote freedom and a quality of life, for ourselves and our children, at a time when almost nothing can be taken for granted, we are looking to the past, to glean from the actions of our ancestors the principles and skills that allowed them to succeed and raise their family while still passing the torch of freedom. Despite the great uncertainties that they faced, they were Giants of the Earth. For generations, our ancestors used technology to improve their security. Today, our complete dependence on technology might be the greatest threat to our security. To regain a healthy amount of local self-sufficiency, we plan on:

1. Providing fun community entertainment and social arts for our members to promote the intergenerational family and community dialogue, trust, and friendships that are each important for optimizing local interdependence and cooperation. Further, these activities can be performed for their own sake, unconditionally and without the requirement that members affirm any particular institution-serving dogma.

2. Collecting meaningful stories from our citizens through oral history video interviews, particularly our senior citizens, in order to preserve and share the wisdom they have as individuals and groups as they reflect on the many experiences of life.

3. Making those video stories widely available to younger family members and community members for generations to come through our large online family tree, by linking those stories to people and events recorded in that tree.

4. Providing online and in-person small group forums and discussions where people of all ages can hear and interpret these stories and extrapolate core values that they hope will not be lost in the changing times.

5. Acting to promote the sustainability of each person’s, each family’s, and each community’s commitment to their core principles by imagining and preparing for times and conditions that would most test their ability to remain true to their commitment. We hope to preserve and share practical heirloom skills that have sustained small communities through hard times. These are the skills that allowed for community and family self-reliance and self-sufficiency for generations: harvesting maple syrup, animal husbandry, milking cows, making flour, butchering animals, gardening, cooking from scratch, and bartering locally. Looking at hurricane Katrina, Cambodia, Rwanda, Sudan, and Sarajevo (remember what happened to that pretty little town that hosted the 1984 Olympics?), it is easy to understand the fragility of values in the face of insecurity (real or imagined). We hope to prepare to ensure the lower Maslowian needs can be met at a familial and hopefully a community level in all conceivable situations. We hope to pass down to our children and grandchildren the virtues that helped our pioneer ancestors make it through rough times: physical stamina, practical skills, positive mental attitude, realistic expectations, neighborliness, and the practical intelligence that understands how values arise out of a committment to principles. We want future generations to make the best of whatever hand fate deals to them. Further, as mentioned above with respect to autonomy vs. heteronomoy, a healthy self-reliance has been shown to be important for the integrity of a democratic republic, as desperate individuals who are overly dependent upon others, especially foreign powers, tend to be easily coerced with the mere withholding of staples, such as food or energy resources.

6. Honoring our ancestors by being better stewards of those things that they have entrusted to us. Since good stewardship requires good understanding of reality rather than wishful thinking and positivity-posturing, we will be researching our ancestors’ diaries and other writings to help us deconstruct our current assumptions about reality. If history has shown us one thing, it is that “reality”, among the various human herds, is a slippery notion, more dependent upon what people “believe” others expect of them than an authentic critical/rational interaction with physical/objective realities. In every community there are numerous colloquialisms that have arisen through chance, laziness, or mere stupidity. These are not easy to do battle with. Thus, we seek authoritative and objective data with which to shape our common notions of reality, with the hopes of cultivating a better understanding of: 1) the genes we are born with, 2) the habits that are conditioned into us, and 3) the mind that can either merely find homeostasis between the id and the superego, or transcend those particular appetites and subsume them (using the Logos) under abstract transcendental principles. Thus, it is our minds that have the potential to give us free will, which is relative freedom from both our nature and our nurture.

To free ourselves from dogmatic slumber, our center is using state of the art genetic ancestral research, genetic relative finding, written & oral histories, family tree indexing, collaborative sharing, and heirloom technical and interpretive decryption. The latter will allow us share esoteric interpretations of texts and stories that have been passed down through the ages.

7. Recognizing that some of the most dysfunctional core values we hold arose through more nefarious means, also known as black magic, wizardry, active subversion, or psychological warfare, we hope to promote a better way to understand and free ourselves from the dark sayings that have been bugs in our people’s ear for centuries. These dark sayings have been around far longer than even Sun Tzu’s 5th century BCE chapter covering subversion in his famous Art of War. As subversive strategists, like Sun Tzu, tend to be extremely good chess players, they always can predict a community’s next move to counteract the toxic effects of their initial move. Brilliantly, they create memetic viruses that are designed to induce conflicting phenomenologies within a community and thus lead to pandemonium. Then, they use phenomenological judo to turn one element of a community against another element.

Psychological viruses not only infect and cripple families and communities in the short term, but they are designed to actively destroy the means by which families and communities can regain health by ensuring that feedback mechanisms that would normally restore health, such as the wisdom of elders, not be cultivated or, if cultivated, not be respected by younger members of the community. The means of doing this are dark–very dark. Venture no further, unless you are good at chess and are not easily coerced by empty flattery or empty threats. If you are good at chess, and love your community, then we welcome you to enter through the narrowest of gates and become familiar with the esoteric interpretations of texts we once thought we understood.

Local self-sufficiency is only possible if we are not afraid to get our hands dirty.

Honor Your Immigrant Ancestors

Want to honor your immigrant ancestors? Put their names prominently in gold on the beautiful walls in the Giants of the Earth Heritage Hall of Giants. The names will be placed on the walls of the side of Spring Grove in which your immigrants ancestors lived. For example, Ole Nerstad and Kjettle Garnaas lived west of Spring Grove, so their names appear on the west wall.

Giants of the Earth offers this special offer as a thank you to donors who have given over $2,500. For each $2,500 donation, one immigrant ancestor will be written in the Hall of Giants.

In addition, your immigrant will receive special attention as we complete our Giants of the Earth Heritage Center area Bygdebok, detailing the history and genealogy of the Houston, Winneshiek, Fillmore, Allamakee Co. area.

Please make your donation today by going to our right sidebar and choosing how you would like give. Giants will then contact you to learn more about the immigrant you would like to have honored in our Hall of Giants.

“He only deserves to be remembered by posterity who treasures up and preserves the history of his ancestors.” —Edmund Burke


Lakselaget Offers Scholarships

Here is the news release in case you do not want to open the attachments FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Karin Holt, Foundation Director,

Lakselaget Offers Scholarships to Minnesota and Norwegian Women

Application Deadline: March 1, 2011

Minnesota-based Lakselaget will be offering scholarships for the eighth time in its nine-year history. The application deadline is March 1, 2011. Lakselaget offers scholarships to women who are Norwegian students wishing to study in Minnesota or at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, or to Minnesota women desiring to study in Norway. It also provides grants to Minnesota professional women who have the opportunity to work in Norway and to Norwegian women who have the opportunity to work in Minnesota. The grants are meant to supplement wages lost for experience gained. Applicants should have an interest in contemporary Norway and in the sciences, technology, business, politics, language and culture, or in the cooperation between the countries. The Lakselag Scholarship Fund was established to celebrate, encourage and advance the organization’s motto: women who swim against the current. Its goal is to promote international connections between Minnesota and Norway and allows recipients to obtain, teach and share knowledge that will benefit women in their complex roles in today’s society. Lakselaget is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization for professional women and college and university students who are Norwegian, of Norwegian descent, or are interested in contemporary Norwegian issues and all things Norwegian. The organization meets the first Saturday of each month from October through May to network, mentor, eat salmon, and receive information from a variety of noteworthy speakers. Topics range from the arts to health, to history, to sports, to heritage and beyond. For detailed information and scholarship and opportunity fund applications, please visit


Giants Heritage Center

Georgia Rosendahl Banquet at Giants Hall

Ballard House Magically Transfigured into Giants of the Earth Heritage Center

Giants of the Earth Heritage Center members celebrated the tranformation of the large room in the Ballard House into Giants’ Hall with a great gala dinner on Oct. 30 honoring the beloved Spring Grove genealogist Georgia Rosendahl. At $65 a plate, tickets were sold out a week in advance, showing how grateful the community is to Georgia for her work and her spirit. To see more pictures click here, or to share your own, visit our Facebook photo page and add to our album. The multiuse great hall features Spring Grove history murals created by the internationally renowned artists, Sigmund Aarseth, winner of St. Olav’s medal, and Sallie de Reus, famous for creating the Norwegian room at the Epcot center. The previous weekend, Sigmund Aarseth painted 3 paintings before a completely packed Spring Grove Cinema which he then donated to Giants of the Earth for their auction on the 30th at the dinner. The 3 paintings were sold for $3,500 each to Dan Huebner, Mike & Diane Schmidt, and Jim & Karen Gray. The buyers then generously donated them back to the Giants of the Earth Heritage Center, saying that these should stay in the town of Spring Grove, where they were painted, for all to see and enjoy.    

Future work will continue to increase the ability of the Heritage Center to provide unprecedented oral history, genealogical, and relative finding services to Giants of the Earth Heritage Center members. Giants will soon be setting up a room for taping and a studio for editing our Oral Histories, which will be our senior citizens’ recollection of important events in their lives, including subjects such as farm horses, war experiences, family dynamics, humor, Christmas events, and country schools.  

We anticipate the official opening of the Heritage Center for genealogical purposes to be on Wed, February 9. Either John Storlie or Georgia Rosendahl, or both, intend to be present from 10 PM to 3 PM to assist people in their genealogical research, including genetic genealogy.  Please check our calendar for hours and events.


Giants Receives Giant Grants

Giants of the Earth Heritage Center has just been notified that it has been rewarded two giant grants.

The first grant is a pledge to match the first $25,000 given by donors to Giants Heritage by Feb 14, 2011, to fund heritage programming (more info later).

The second grant, from Google, is designed to help promote our website and our mission of resurrecting multigenerational consciousness for purposes of promoting good community stewardship. The grant provides $330/day in free advertising for our website for an unlimited time. That translates into $10,000/month; $120,000 per year; or $1.2 million over the next ten years. This will be a lot of Google Adwords advertising. So far, every dollar we have spent has drawn two new people to our website. We currently average $1 per day in Adwords advertising, and we have grown tremendously using that, It is hard to comprehend how fast we can grow if we increase our advertising by 330 fold. We already have over 1,000 people a day looking at our online Giants of the Earth Heritage Center web and Facebook pages. Using this grant money, we plan on unleashing a ceaseless hailstorm of online advertising, beginning near the end of January that should draw 660 NEW people per day to our online pages, or over 240,000 new people per year in addition to the number of visitors that the site would have without advertising. Considering that these people will also talk to their friends and families, Giants of the Earth Heritage Center’s website popularity is likely to grow even faster.

With this kind of advertising we can really mobilize a critical mass of people to accomplish our mission of preserving, interpreting, and passing down every family’s unique heritage.  By getting more people and families to reflect on the heritage they pass on to generations, we hope to empower people to live their lives with greater purpose, decency, creativity, and “seventh-generational” thinking.

We hope to accomplish these goals without overtaxing people or businesses. Because many hands make light work,  we want to encourage as many people as possible to participate, in whatever way they can, by rewarding our supporters at least two fold every time they support our mission in some measurable way. Further, we can reach out to other non profit historical societies and help them to accomplish our common mission by working together. As our Giants of the Earth Heritage Center database grows, so too will our ability to provide complete genealogical and genetic genealogy services. People have been talking for years about preserving video stories of our seniors before they pass away, but they never figured out how to do it efficiently and retain a personal, hometown, touch. Giants is moving quickly to provide both oral history services and a family friendly database to view these in.

When it comes to passing down heritage, we don’t want to just preach to the choir. We hope to excite people who haven’t in the past been all that interested in genealogy, for whatever reasons. Because genealogy empowers a people with a greater sense of purpose, we want to provide at least some of our services for free to young people who are making big decisions. Young families, and particularly most of our youth, who are perhaps in the most need of a personal history, won’t have access to their grandparents and great grandparents stories unless we preserve them now. We can preserve and pass down the wisdom and experiences of grandparents for generations to come. When a community promotes wisdom, good judgment, and virtue it can be truly said that a rising tide lifts all boats.

We will provide meaningful services to members and publicly honor our supporters

Hopefully, Giants can introduce a new word into the vocabulary of all nonprofits: incentivization. Many people have heard of the “tragedy of the commons”, which basically illustrates that systems which don’t reward people or groups for existential/ontological stewardship, but rely on guilt to induce such stewardship, will fail. Guilting people into community stewardship may work in the short run, but such stewardship is rarely sustainable, because people see egotistic free riders enjoying the fruits of their altruistic volunteer labor and they become resentful. Although they might feel entitled to such resentment, it is in practice rarely productive. Hopefully, we can avoid all that kind of negativity from the outset, if possible, and this grant (together with another large programming-related grant which will be announced soon), makes it possible for us to reward our volunteers and supporters and leave freeriders and “naysayers” realizing it is time to rethink their modus operandi. By providing meaningful services to our members and honoring our individual, family, and business supporters we will ensure our continued success. As they say, nothing succeeds like success.

We want to reward people and businesses for doing the right thing and thinking about the greater good. Spring Grove is already talked about in “high places” (that is currently classified, but will be announced soon), and we can now really put Spring Grove on the map by being leaders in genetic ancestry. We can start to thank our volunteeers, our members,  and our business supporters on the grand scale they deserve for their vision, their generosity, and their committment by recognizing them on the website. Also, our website’s great popularity will encourage people to use our eBay Giving Works application, which is on our site, because by donating as little as 10% of their eBay proceeds to Giants, they will receive unprecedented exposure that will help them sell their products. Further, for those items that have historical value, our site will help eBay sellers document each item’s individual connection with history by linking it into with the people who used it our genealogical database. Thus, our site will greatly increase the item’s value by documenting its authenticity and identifying others who may have an historical interest in collecting that item.

Please join Giants today. We intend to honor, serve, and reward our members, volunteers, and supporters, who, as good and faithful servants, deserve to be listed among the Giants of the Earth.


Capital Campaign Contributions

Want to donate to Giants of the Earth Heritage Center. We have two easy options. Note that donations over $2,500 will receive special honors in our Hall of Giants in Spring Grove. There is an Honored Immigrants Wall on the first floor. Each donation of $2,500 allows the name of an immigrant from one’s family to be written in gold leaf on the wall.

Option 1. Donate to Giants Capital Campaign BY CHECK. Write your check, and mail to: 


Giants of the Earth Heritage Center, Inc.
P.O. Box 223
Spring Grove, MN 55974


Option 2. Donate to Giants Capital Campaign BY CREDIT CARD 


Simply use the online donation button below.  Your name will be immediately posted on our Online Donors page if you choose, or you can remain anonymous. Note: you may make your tax deductible donations any amount you wish and make any comments you wish. Feel free to make a donation in memory of a beloved ancestor or loved one, such as–“In memory of…remembering our first Christmas together” or “In honor of Knute…, my great great grandfather, who helped build the first Spring Grove Church.”  If you wish to have your money used toward something in particular, such as the capital campaign, the Dan Huebner matching grant for programming, or membership, please indicate so.  


If you need assistance, please email us. We can contact you later and even take your credit card information over the phone.


Norwegian Christmas Tree Fest Dec 12

Giants of the Earth will be hosting a Christmas party for children and families Sunday December 12th from 1-3pm at the Ballard House on Main Street in Spring Grove, Minnesota. We will be creating ornaments and caroling around the tree like they do in Norway. The kids can make ornaments to put on the tree and to take home. We will be making traditional Norwegian ornaments like; paper chain links, paper baskets, woven paper baskets and straw hearts.
There will be refreshments and we should be visited by a real Norwegian Jule Nisse.
There is a suggested free will offering of $2 per child.

3d Heritage Center

Preliminary work on wall of Giants Hall of Heritage Center

First floor of Heritage Center with dinner tables


3d rendering of Hall with dinner tables


The 3d mockup of the 1st floor of the Heritage Center is nearly completed, although I will still have to change the wall decor and make some other changes. This 3d model will allow us to try out different arrangements of furniture, exhibits, studio equipment, etc. in silico prior to actually making the physical changes. Above you can see one possible way of arranging the tables for our now sold out Gourmet Dinner honoring Georgia Rosendahl and the completion of Giants Hall of the Heritage Center on Saturday, October 30.


Conscious Stewardship vs. FAPs

Konrad Lorenz demonstrates FAPs

One of the hallmarks of a community that maintains sustainable stewardship practices is that the community is made up of a higher than average number of individuals who make conscious rational decisions. Community stewardship is thus advanced when members of the community become conscious of their innate Fixed Action Patterns, or FAPs. Fixed action patterns are those patterns which cause humans to behave in predictable, less than rational ways. When people make good financial decisions, resources are kept in their community. Today, it is difficult not to fall victim to marketing tactics used to sell us things we can’t use, don’t need, or don’t help our families or communities out in some way. Therefore, I believe it is helpful for us to promote a better understanding of “tricks” used which frequently drain the resources of small towns while providing little return, so as to immunize members of our community against irrational spending and promote optimal spending.

Empirical research has documented that humans unconsciously behave in predictable ways when confronted by an individual promoting a cause or selling an item. Research has identified the following 6 tactics for getting someone to say “yes” to something that circumvents the rational deliberation process. There are o

1. Reciprocation

2. Commitment and consistency

3. Social Proof

4. Liking (people who also like whatever it is you are promoting)

5. Authority

6. Scarcity

Examples of FAPs that we exhibit

1. Reciprocation-if a car salesman gives someone a cup of coffee, buyers will frequently not negotiate the best price for their car. The coffee isn’t even worth a dollar. The buyer might spend $2000 more on the car if he is given a cup of coffee by the nice salesman.

2. Commitment and consistency—if you get someone to start saying yes to things they agree with, you can eventually show that donating to a cause is consistent with what they already believe.

3. Social Proof—if you preface your survey by saying “9 out of 10 people believe X”, do you also believe X, most people will believe X.

4. Liking (people who also like whatever it is you are promoting)—If you show an attractive or likeable person likes X, most people will also like X, even if they know nothing about X.

5. Authority—if you state that the Powers-That-Be like X, most people will also like X.

6. Scarcity—if you say that something will not be available soon, many people will feel compelled to buy that thing right now.


$20,000 genomic sequencing–FREE

Dr. John Storlie recently received word that he was officially accepted into the Harvard Personal Genome Project, which means that their genomes will be completely sequenced, a $20,000 value, for free.

“This not only is an exciting opportunity for us, but it will increase the value of all those genetic results already received by individuals in the community who share genetic material with us as identified by our 1 million SNP chips, since we can infer from our sequencing the actual sequence of those sections of their chromosomes which are identical to ours as identified by the kits given out by Giants of the Earth,” said John Storlie. “Further, as of October 15, 2010, the Harvard Personal Genome Project began signing people up for the next round of sequencing, in which they will sequence 10,000 individuals. I highly recommend that anyone with an interest in this sign up for this opportunity. I recommend that you sign up now, because the wait time could be considerable and the interest will be great.

Sign up for Harvard’s Personal Genome Project–its FREE

Local residents have been amazed at Giants of the Earth Heritage Center’s recent genetic discoveries. Using advanced autosomal genetic analysis, which can identify long stretches of identical DNA segments, Giants of the Earth has been able to confirm not only that most residents of the town of Spring Grove are likely related within 6 generations, but how they are related, even in cases where there was no preexisting family tree to search. “The interrelatedness of the town opens up numerous possibilities and makes us a desirable location for genetic analysis, such as has been performed on the population of Iceland,” said Storlie.

Currently, residents who have joined Giants of the Earth Heritage Center at a Giant ($250) level receive a free comprehensive ancestry and health genetic test kit. The kit contains a small saliva collection tube. The member’s genome is extracted from the cells in the saliva and the genomic data is generated and compared to tens of thousands of others around the world who have taken the test. When a large amount of your genomic data is identical to another person, it can be inferred with a high degree of certainty that that person is your relative, and, based on the size and number of the identical regions on your chromosomes, the relationship can be estimated out to 10th cousin.

“This information is coming in fast and it is incredibly helpful. It is allowing me to merge family trees with scientific confidence. All too often, there have been cases where I have merged individuals within two family trees only to find out later that there were actually, for example, two Ole Olsons born in 1862 in Spring Grove, and those Ole Olsons were actually not even related. Genetics comes to the rescue and will save genealogists a lot of time and also improve the accuracy of the trees. Further, I use the genetic analysis to find the relatives in Norway, who then connect me with the numerous farms from which they come. People don’t realize how many ancestral farms they may have and how their written record, without the clues of genetic analysis, is usually only a small snippet of their actual ancestry. A lot of times people will come in and tell me, ‘I have all my ancestors traced back to the 1600s.’ They don’t realize actually how many ancestors they should have in their tree if they actually had done that.” For example, if we assume that each generation averages 30 years, which is actually pretty conservative, then about 13 generations would exist between a young person today and the 1600s. If someone had no ancestors who married their relatives, then a complete family tree going back to the 1600s would include the names of over 16,000 individuals. In fact, there was a lot of marriage between distant cousins, which decreases the overall size of the family trees, but increases their complexity. Further, it opens up an increased probability for finding organ and stem cell matches within our community and in Norway. This means that Spring Grove is an excellent community in which to begin studies using regenerative stem cell therapy.

“Initially, I was only hoping that we could get funding for 1,000,000 SNP genomic analysis of a large portion of the town. Now, in addition to that it is actually possible for a large number of individuals within the town to get completely sequenced for free. This opens up enormous possibilities, since we are genetically just different enough from the Icelandic population to have a few new genetic variables, but we don’t have so many new variables that analysis would get bogged down. Further, we are largely from the same stock of genetic material as those individuals who have contributed to the immense Norwegian Biobank, but our residents are exposed to different environmental variables. This variation in environment with a relatively constant genomic background might help us better understand the role of the environment in the creation of the phenome from the genome.”

“Spring Grove’s population is unusually talented and educated for a small town. We have an excellent communications infrastructure and would be a prime location for genomic studies and further analysis of existing databases. In addition, we could serve as a source for controlled studies by regional colleges and university professors and students who would be interested in serious scientific research using the latest high throughput genomic analysis. So, if you are interested in signing up for free sequencing, please do. And if you need help in understanding the process, I can help provide Giants members with resources that will help you to answer the questions involved in the application process.”


Envisioning the Heritage Center

Envisioning an Interactive, Personalized Heritage Center

About a year ago, Giants of the Earth Heritage Center purchased the Historic Ballard House for use as the Heritage Center. The renovation of the Ballard House into the Heritage Center took part in several phases. Phase 1 involved primarily preparing the main room for the visit of the internationally known painter, Sigmund Aarseth. The painter arrived on October 12, 2010. He painted numerous large murals on the walls of the main room. The community rallied behind the effort with large donations.

Recently, the Northwest room was turned into a gift shop extension of Vesterheim. A room for videotaping oral history stories has been set up in the room south of Giants Hall. Genealogy research, including advanced genetic genealogy reasearch is currently on Wednesdays from 10-3:15, followed by Hootenanny. The room itself is gorgeous, and is the perfect place for gatherings such as family reunions, where our genealogical services will be right there so people can find out how everyone is related. Further, groups of people at the family reunion can take 15 minutes to have their treasured family stories recorded by our video specialists, so that these stories can be preserved and shared for future generations of your family.

Mimickery is for unimaginative technicians–Artists are Entrepeneurs by definition

In the rush to set up our Heritage Center, there is a lot of inertia to mimick what has been done elsewhere. This seems to arise out of confusion about the difference between technicians and technology. Everyone likes to think of themselves as artists and not as technicians. If we are not aware of the etymological roots of artists and technicians, we may ourselves mistakenly refer to all people who works with technology as technicians. Because of this there is some resistance to using highly interactive technology that would put monitors and touch screens on the walls. But etymologically, an artist is one poetically creates something new, especially in new mediums. A technician, by contrast, is one who mimicks what has already been done, without ever utilizing his paradigm-smashing imagination. Thus, one who entrepeneurs is actually an artist, even if he or she uses technology to entrepeneur. One who imitates, even if he uses paint, clay, or some other medium that was once used by an artist, is a technician. Another objection might be that technology is intimidating. This need not be the case, if we are willing to work to make the visitor’s interface completely user friendly and if have someone ready at all time to assist older individuals who might not know how to use a mouse or a touchscreen. 

A crucial junction

History has proven that inertia is the stewardship principle of those who miss opportunities. We are at a crucial junction which requires that we set aside time from our frenzied activities for reflection. The extent to which we seize unique opportunities presented by the latest computer technology will make all the difference when people ask themselves 10 years from now whether or not our center kept “in touch” with people and empowered our local and online communities to be poets and create something truly new. Do we want our open community center to revert into another cluttered “musaleum”, complete with kitschy gift shop? Do we want to fill up our welcoming open space with items designed to advance a particular historicist narrative? Or do we want to make it an interactive center that puts each member in the driver’s seat? By putting people in the drivers seat rather than pretending to be some objective historical intercessor, we can facilitate their realization that although no one else will live their lives, love their families, or leave their legacies for them, what they do, or don’t do, profoundly effects the quality of life of others for generations.

We want to be true to our pioneering ancestors, whose principled inflexible committment to the future of their children moved them to break new ground and to continually ask themselves if they were spending the resources entrusted to them in the best way to accomplish their goals. They maintained an absolute committment to fundamental things and a relative committment to that which was relative. We have to ask ourselves–is our job to become what we believe grantgivers want? Is our job to jump through hoops on forms created to evaluate museums created 50-100 years ago to appeal to audiences using the latest technologies available back then? Or is our job to manifest the same principled inflexible committment to future generations in a pioneering way and let them change their forms to catch up with our lead? We have to ask ourselves, before we fill up our space with display cases and “representative” physical items, can we do better? For if we don’t ask this question, we will quickly supplant our unique opportunity to be pioneers in personalized history, because we can’t supply MOTS (more of the same) and still pioneer an interactive heritage center. Doesn’t the world have enough cookie cutter museums and gift shops? We have in our power the ability to make the Heritage Center a community resource and an online international center that pioneers a new type of experience for members and visitors.

The New Paradigm is Personalized Heritage which refuses to merely preach to the choir

What would our “personalized” history entail? Our personalized approach would begin by asking each visitor what they are interested in and allowing them to discover more about that by interacting and contributing to our enormous database. There is a simple rule, keep it fun and welcoming if you want it to grow. We want to welcome visitors by starting out with the premise that they had ancestors who were important. We want to learn with them about their ancestors’ activities and how they fit into our community tree. In a matter of half an hour, we can make a personal connection between them and historical events or people that they never realized they had a connection to.

With the advent of the internet and access to massive databases, we can make our’s both a collaborative and an inclusive historical narrative. Rather than melt everyone together into some generic Spring Grove or Midwest pioneer everyman, who never actually existed, or choose one “representative” or “prominent” person, we can capture every person’s story.  This type of historical preservation and presentation was not feasible prior to the development of contemporary technology. Using this technology we can upload, store, link, and retrieve instantly any of billions of pictures and even videos through the internet. With older technology that stored the actual physical documents or artifacts only, curators were forced to selectively choose what information could be presented and preserved and throw out the rest. This gave immense and inevitably revisionist winnowing power to museum curators to “cherry pick.” Curators at privately funded museums had to effectively say to most people, “Sorry, your grandparents weren’t important enough to merit a place in our museum. Instead of learning about your grandparents, you should come here and learn about so and so’s grandparents, who were important [because their grandchildren donated money to keep this museum running].” Even more dangerous, publicly funded museum curators, in contrast, were given license to create the “everyman” generalizations that were subject to the particular politics and interests of the curator. Fortunately, thanks to today’s technology, we can throw away both of these elitist and generationalist paradigms and preserve the pictures, stories, actual writings, and legacies of all the people who live or have lived in our community.

Personalized Heritage Technology will usher in new types of family reunions

The identity we have, principally with our surnames only, is somewhat outdated: Surprisingly, people who share a surname are frequently less related in Spring Grove than people who don’t share a surname. You might be a second cousin to someone with a different last name and a fourth cousin to someone with the same last name, yet many people don’t even know who their second cousins are if they don’t have the same last name as them. At the center and online, we can now, in an instant, pull up the nearly complete family tree of most of the members of our community, and we can then be reminded of all the relationships that each of us have from all of our maternal sides. Invitations to family reunions at our Heritage Center can be sent out by email or facebook to those who are related to the host or hostess within 3 or 4 degrees of separation, for example, or in many other creative ways designed to remind people how interconnected we all are, rather than grouping people as “Johnsons”, or “Hagens”, or some other last name.

Oral Histories

Many of us in Spring Grove treasure the stories we would hear from the elders in our family or the elders in our community. They would tell us about growing up in the early part of the century. These would include detailed stories, such as how one’s great grandfather would go out and hold the reindeer for Santa on Christmas Eve, so that Santa would come  into the house while “Pa” was outside “holding the reindeer.”  These great stories of our deceased loved ones we wished we had videotaped, because we will never be able to go back and do it again. We certainly could never tell those stories as well as they could. Collectively, we can capture these stories while they are still being told, if community members resolve to continue to support this project with their donations that help us preserve stories for their grandchildren that they will then be able sit down on the couch someday in their homes or at our center and watch with their grandchildren. We want our organization to stay ahead of the curve by reaffirming the worth of all of our members and their family’s stories. We have already videotaped 60 hours of histories of the town as provided by our elderly residents, but we need to do hundreds more in the next year. Especially pressing this year are the stories of our few remaining WWII veterans.

No two visits to our Heritage Center need be alike

We want to provide our visitors with the ability to start with their own family and use our resources to make connections to all sorts of historical events. No two visits to the center need to be alike. Rather than merely creating a museum and allowing some historian to choose exhibits that represent our history in a way that appeals to him or her and have the rest of us endure his or her idiosyncratic. monolithic narrative about the monumental progress that we are-or are not-going through, we can open up the narrative to the little guys. By making use of the digital archives, visitors can summon up immense catalogued resources of their choosing in seconds and present them on a screen. The new interactivity we wish to offer is based upon the realization that frequently the most universal truths are found in the lives of real individuals to which one has a personal connection. The mysterious “typical” or “representative” individuals, that we are led to believe existed at different historical times, could be simply straw-men created by some new revisionist historian who simply wishes to promote his agenda or glamorize his interests. By preserving the stories of real people, monumental historical myths and generalizations can be continuously evaluated in the light of actual evidence. Generalized facts that have been pedantically propagated in the heteronomous environment of educational institutions for the last century can be deconstructed and replaced by the light of parsimonious hypotheses made tenable by actual historical data generated during the multigenerational existence of a sustainable community.

Keeping it real

In making important life decisions, people often draw insight as they reflect on and interpret their own experiences and the stories that convey others’ experience. Thus, the vision that creates future history is made in the development of each person’s interpretation of stories they consider to represent reality. We want to democratize this interpretive, developmental process and remove the possibility that the essential feedback loops that keep the dialectical process healthy are not destroyed by excessive compliance with the demands of a single generation’s majority (which likes to call itself “the public”) or of particular private interests. We want to maintain a balance between public and private interests. When we receive funding–either public or private, we certainly should thank our sources sincerely. In that they contribute to our vision we should recognize  them and help them, but we must make sure that we aren’t backsliding on our inclusive and multigenerational vision in order to promote funding in the near future or out of fear.

Eternal vigilance is the price…

Although we must always we kind, we must also be eternally vigilant in our deliberation of what constitutes heritage, so that the books of wisdom in our libraries will be understood, and so that those who call the public to rational discourse will not be simply a voice crying out in the wilderness. Without real heritage, our children will not be able to discern the difference between the call to principled service of sustainable community and the rhetorical siren songs of post-modernity. 

History has many more facets than any one individual can understand, and there is no reason not to bring in the narratives of all those who have a stake in history, which is everyone. Most importantly, the Heritage Center can be an agora, in which historical narratives of all types can be heard, and people can continually synthesize the narrative that makes most sense to them as they reflect on how the lives of their ancestors affected their own lives, and how their own actions or inactions also limit or expand the freedoms that subsequent generations will have. Ultimately, allowing people to develop an understanding of what constituted good sustainable stewardship in the past may be one of the most effectual means of promoting sustainable stewardship, not just of one generation, or of one branch of humanity, but of the whole tree of human Being. The leaves on the tree of life are for the healing of the nations.

An Interactive and Dynamic Center

I hope we will incorporate interactive and dynamic elements such as work stations, touchscreen monitors, and child friendly interactive screens that allow visitors to interact with our online family tree, which will contain oral histories, genetic information, stories, pictures, videos and more.

What do we think about paternal and grandpaternal guidance in America? We think it would be a good thing.

Genealogical research teaches us how to make prudent life decisions within the small windows of opportunity provided by each human life. The great irony these days is that by the time we are old enough to appreciate the importance of heritage studies, most of our major decisions have already been made–with respect to marriage, children, vocation, etc.

This was not always the case. At one time children learned the stories of their ancestors’ experience as they sat around the fires at night. Therefore, the most important change that needs to happen to the genealogical community is to reconnect with the younger generations. If we fail to make our Heritage Center youth-friendly, we will only be providing more of the same type of museum that has preached to the choir but neglected the masses for a hundred years. There is a tragic irony in turning a Heritage Center into a non-child friendly environment, filled with items too valuable to interact with at a child’s level, so that children are unwelcome or constantly scolded within our center. Children are the future of existence and as such they will someday be the only people who had a personal connection to us, for we will have passed away, save for the legacies we have left. Each one of our children is more valuable than any material object in existence. “Let the little children come…” for they are the essence of the future in which the past can be preserved. We should not store up our riches in objects, which decay, but in preserving that which nurtures the development of each little miracle born into our community. Having said that we must make our center child friendly, it is also important to note that we do not wish to make it friendly to the point that we water down our message so much that there is none. If we simply provide the same type of youth activities that youths can get anywhere, then we have only made work for ourselves without accomplishing anything. Further, we never want to draw youth away from another organizations good event, but we want cooperate with all other community empowering organizations, to co-sponsor everything, endorse, and publicize others events, and to fill in where we see a heritage need. If we try to do everything, we will never accomplish our vision of creating a complete community family tree.

The Tree comes first, because it makes the personalized approach possible

Once that tree is complete, our museum can then be as specialized or generalized as members wish, since our extremely large and rapidly growing genealogical database provides the perfect framework for indexing and sharing digitized video, audio, pictures, and other documents related to any given family, event, or topic in our extended community. Why should we choose who are the prominent families in Spring Grove when technology allows us to preserve the pictures and legacies of all of our families? With limited resources, it is only fair to begin researching the stories of the ancesors of those who contribute to our heritage center. However, we ought never to forget that history was caused by the interaction of all people’s ancestors, and not just those who have donated to us. Secondly, we must always remember that heritage is is categorically different than any particular skill or item. It cannot be bought in a gift shop. It cannot be purchased like indulgences. It cannot be made in a craft class. Heritage is something that isn’t given to you in a perfect state. Each person inherits conditioning and momentum–but these are not stewardship heritage. Each person may choose to accept, to resist, or to yield to and then overcome that momentum through critical reflection, and conscious self-reconditioning.

Genealogy empowers modesty and service

Some people are turned off by genealogy because they think it is elitist. While at first, this might seem to be the case, experience shows that genealogy humbles the proud and inspires the poor in spirit. That is because, when anyone really studies it, they realize how interrelated everyone is. No one is so superior that they don’t have a horse thief or someone similar in their ancestry. No one is so base as to lack a royal ancestor if they go back far enough. Some of us might have lost the written trail, but genetic genealogy changes everything. Our genetic analysis is demonstrating the interconnectedness of the town as well as reaching out to distant cousins across the globe. Using genetic technology, we can help someone trace their ancestors back with incredible accuracy to any place in the world–right down to the villages in Europe, Asia, or Africa that they came from. That is truly an inclusive genealogical service. Stay tuned for the upcoming videos Giants is preparing, modeled after “Who do you think you are?” television series that will document the experiences of members of the Spring Grove community as our genetic analysis answers the question “Where’d you get your genes?”


The Norwegians are Coming!

The first 2 pages summarize the Norwegian professors and researchers visiting SG (Madison, Blair, Decorah and Westby) on Sept 11 and 12th, 2010.  Prepared by Jill Storlie  Sept 1, 2010 version 1.
This is hosted by GIANTS OF THE EARTH HERITAGE CENTER.  TO become a member, please stop by the Ballard House for a membership brochure. Basic memberships are 35 dollars, less for seniors.  Become members TODAY so the genealogy volunteers can concentrate on the Heritage center and not on soliciting your membership!!
The Norwegian speakers have volunteered to meet with the Norwegian researchers, be interviewed and recorded on Saturday and Sunday.  Volunteer speakers are our residents and neighbors, maybe relatives,  who learned an earlier Norsk dialect from first, second, third generation immigrants.  forelders – bestemor, farmor, oldemor, oldefar.
The volunteers include these local colleagues who are meeting for conversation, interview and recording at several locations on Saturday and Sunday.  More volunteers are encouraged .. call Jill Storlie to volunteer  5634190986 or 5074983586  (Marlene make sure if you list these names you say INCLUDE so as to not limit it.. I think there are some more pondering the idea or maybe have agreed by the time of printing.  We want to encourage all and there are options to include them Saturday and Sunday.
Our dialects from the 19th century are no longer spoken regularly in Norway.  This is a very special chance to document our history and provide a something for our Norwegian cousins too.

Norris Storlie,
Milford Landsom,
Emma Landsom,
Geneva Tweeten
Truman Omodt,
Marlin Omoth,
Richard Storlie,
Georgia Rosendal,
David Storlie,
Nels and Helen Gudbrandsen
James Wilhelmson
Own Hegge
Harold Olerud,
Carol Gaustad
Here are the Professors coming to do the interviews along with a student from Madison.
Janne Bondi Johannessen, prof., Univ. of Oslo
Kristin Eide, prof., Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim
Arnstein Hjelde, associate prof., Høgskolen i Østfold
Signe Lake, research assistant, Univ. of Oslo
Beate Taranrød, student, Univ. of Oslo
Marit Westergaard, prof.,  University of Tromsø
Luke Annear, student, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Here is the project leaders contacdt information
Janne Bondi Johannessen
Professor, The Text Laboratory, ILN,
President, NEALT,
University of Oslo
P.O.Box 1102 Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway
-Tel: +47 22 85 68 14, mob.: +47 928 966 34
Participants for field work in Spring Grove:
Janne Bondi Johannessen, prof., Univ. of Oslo
Kristin Eide, prof., Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim
Arnstein Hjelde, associate prof., Høgskolen i Østfold
Signe Lake, research assistant, Univ. of Oslo
Beate Taranrød, student, Univ. of Oslo
Marit Westergaard, prof., University of Tromsø
Luke Annear, student, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Our goals are:
To meet descendants from Norwegian immigrants who came to America
before 1920, and who learnt to speak Norwegian in their family.
To record their speech
To talk to them about their lives an their identity as Norwegians or Americans
To find out about their language: how fluent are they, how much do
they speak Norwegian, how is their language compared to Norwegian
spoken in Norway, and compared to other places in the Mid West.
To start research cooperation with the University of Wisconsin,
Madison, about immigrant language
To learn about heritage associations like Giants of the Earth.
 To have the university seminar in Madison.
We are greatful to you and the others we have talked to, who have been
very enthusiastic and helpful to us in planning this field work. It
would have been impossible without this cooperation.

Palmer Overstrud, Spring Grove; David Storlie, Spring Grove.
On Tue, Aug 3, 2010 at 5:00 AM, <> wrote:
Sat. Sept 11 plus evenings of Sept 9 through 13 are the openings for Giants to schedule our neighborhood Norsk speakers who learned the language from relatives.. Not from living in Norway or taking classes at college.  Prof. Johannsen is bringing a group of adults from Oslo to do field work to interview and record older folks mostly. Karen Gray and I heard of 4-5men in the nursing home who speak old Norwegian- likely gammel Halling -every afternoon.  We want to arrange a time to visit them.  They already agreed to be recorded by Giants so hopefully they will like this too.  It would be great to get 10 more people too

WANTED.. NORWEGIAN SPEAKERS who learned from their earlier relatives!Did you speak Norsk with bestefar din?
We will host Norwegians who are learning about the dialects from as far back as the 1850`s when our relatives may have come to Spring Grove from Norway.  They would like 15 or more people to talk to.  Please contact me by email or let Rachel Grippen (soon to be Storlie) know at the Ballard House or call Georgia Rosendahl.
 language workshop in Madison 16.+17 Sep.? You can read about it here:  It is open for all interested, and day 2 is assumed to be interesting for laypeople (non-experts).

Phone:  (507)498-3904 Mobile:  (563) 4190986 e-mail:


Nordic Fest 2010

Giants of the Earth Heritage Center will have a table displaying some of the results of its genetic genealogy during Nordic Fest 2010.

The Giants table will be located at the famous Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum.

Dr. Johnathan Storlie will be present at the table on Friday( July 23) from 9:30 to 5:00 and on Saturday (July 24) afternoon to share information regarding the use of genomic analysis for genealogy research, such as finding relative in Norway and identifying ancestral European farms.

Dr. Storlie will have a number of cutting-edge technology complete genomic kits (valued at $500) available for those who join Giants of the Earth at a King Olav level. Unlike most genetic kits made popular on television, which only analyze a dozen markers on a single small chromosome (yDNA/mitochondrial analysis), the kits Giants of the Earth uses analyze 1/2 million nucleotide polymorphisms over the entire human genome, and allow one to identify hundreds of long lost 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th cousins. Further, the interface for the results are very user friendly, allowing people with very little knowledge of human genetics to still use it with great productivity. A similar SNP based genomic test has been used on most of the Icelandic population.

The Giants of the Earth table will be located on the air conditioned 3rd floor of Vesterheim’s Westby-Torgerson Education Center.

For more information on the technology, click the Find Relatives, Find Homelands, or Genealogy page links above.


Knowledge Workers

Evolution of the Knowledge Worker

Do you believe that the Information/Knowledge Worker Age we’re moving into will outproduce the Industrial Age fifty times? I believe it will. We’re just barely beginning to see it…Nathan Myhrvold, former chief technology officer at Microsoft, puts it this way: ‘The top software developers are more productive than average software developers not by a factor of 10X or 100X or even 1000X but by 10,000X.’ Quality knowledge work is so valuable that unleashing its potential offers organizations an extraordinary opportunity for value creation.”

Stephen R. Covey, The 8th Habit


Spiritual Intelligence

I suggest that we can better understand our ancestors and their stories by trying to understand how they developed and used their 4 intelligences to accomplish their ends:

  • Physical intelligence (PQ)
    Our ability to maintain and develop our physical fitness. It corresponds to body.
  • Mental intelligence (IQ)
    Our ability to analyze, reason, think abstractly, use language, visualize, and comprehend. It corresponds to mind.
  • Emotional intelligence (EQ)
    Our self-knowledge, self-awareness, social sensitivity, empathy and ability to communicate successfully with others. It corresponds to heart.
  • Spiritual intelligence (SQ)
    Our drive for meaning and connection with the infinite. It corresponds to spirit.

From Wikipedia
Zohar and Marshall introduced 12 qualities of SQ. They derive these principles from the qualities that define complex adaptive systems. In biology, complex adaptive systems are living systems that create order out of chaos, they create order and information and defy the law of entropy.[10]

Those principles are:

  • Self-awareness: Knowing what I believe in and value, and what deeply motivates me
  • Spontaneity: Living in and being responsive to the moment
  • Being vision- and value-led: Acting from principles and deep beliefs, and living accordingly
  • Holism: Seeing larger patterns, relationships, and connections; having a sense of belonging
  • Compassion: Having the quality of “feeling-with” and deep empathy
  • Celebration of diversity: Valuing other people for their differences, not despite them
  • Field independence: Standing against the crowd and having one’s own convictions
  • Humility: Having the sense of being a player in a larger drama, of one’s true place in the world
  • Tendency to ask fundamental “Why?” questions: Needing to understand things and get to the bottom of them
  • Ability to reframe: Standing back from a situation or problem and seeing the bigger picture; seeing problems in a wider context
  • Positive use of adversity: Learning and growing from mistakes, setbacks, and suffering
  • Sense of vocation: Feeling called upon to serve, to give something back


This page was copied from


Seeking AV Digitization Equipment

Giants is currently working on setting up a media digitization station for members to digitize their VHS, Hi8, digital8, etc videos. We hope to preserve important video for our community and for local families on a large server that we hope to make accessible to our community for genealogical and historical purposes over the internet. Specifically, we need a VHS player with s-video, component, and RCA out or even better firewire or HDMI out (if they even make these). Secondly, we could use 2-3 flatscreen monitors and perhaps a computer that has firewire/1394 in and an Esata port. Finally, we could use a small business server with expandable/swappable hard drives that could hold many terabytes of info.