Annual Report of the President: February 1, 2008
The report covers the period June 5, 2006
- December 31, 2007
The period in review was one of transition and change, growth and development, celebration and loss:
In Transition: New Officers were elected – Leif Brisfjord, President; Bertil Lindberg, Secretary; Jon Marks, Treasurer; Inez Brisfjord and Erik Wrangel were appointed to a Special Projects Committee – Inez as a researcher, and Erik, a member residing in Sweden, as JESNY representative to John Ericsson Sällskapet in Sweden. At the annual dinner hosted by the Consul General, Ulf Hjertonsson, on March 29, 2007, Kjell Lagerstrom, President-emeritus, was installed as Honorary Member of the Society. His long tenure as president, and exemplary service to JESNY and the community were cited.
The most significant change during the period was the November 23, 2006 launch of the JESNY Website and the Virtual Library. (A prototype Website had been designed some years earlier but not developed and maintained). The president designed the Website and the Virtual Library, arranged for online registration of new members and appropriate e-mail addresses (e.g. email@example.com). He serves as Webmaster. The site is developing continuously. It is now accessible in 12 languages and it has visitors from many countries around the world. The Website has brought John Ericsson to the attention of many who were unaware of the scope of his research and innovations, or the existence of JESNY as an information resource.
In Celebration: By pleasant coincidence, the year 2007 marked both the Centennial Year of JESNY and the inauguration of the Monitor Center of the Mariner’s Museum, Newport News, VA. JESNY participated in the festivities that began Monitor Day, March 9. JESNY and John Ericsson Sällskapet, Sweden jointly presented a specially designed commemorative plaque to the Center. The “Ericsson interest group” expanded during the festivities through the encounter with many independent researchers, writers etc. who remain in touch – for example, two researchers from Östersund, Sweden who visited all the places where Ericsson lived and worked in England and prepared a report on their research for Umeå University, Sweden. They send notes and clippings and remain in touch.
In New York, for the celebration of John Eriksson’s Birthday, Governor Eliot Spitzer and Mayor Michael Bloomberg Proclaimed July 31st “John Ericsson Day” in the State of New York and the City of New York respectively.
And Loss: The demise of Sten Sture Nordin who had returned to Sweden, and Vice President George Simpson. An educator of note, for many years George was Chairman of the Society’s annual Creativity Contest at John Ericsson Jr. High School in Brooklyn.
During the period in Review the traditions and customs of JESNY were maintained and all of the Memorial events were celebrated:
· Monitor Day at the Monitor Center, Mariner’s Museum, followed by the annual dinner hosted by the Swedish Consul General on March 29.
· John Ericsson’s Birthday, July 31 with wreath placement ceremony and music performance at the Ericsson Monument in Battery Park. As is customary, the ceremony was cosponsored by the Greenpoint Museum, Brooklyn.
· John Eriksson’s arrival in US, November 23, 2006, with launch of JESNY Website and Virtual Library; November 30, 2007, with a John Ericsson Literature Roundtable. This innovative program was well received. The participants suggested that additional discussion/lecture programs be offered by the Society.
Although not a Memorial Celebration, the Creativity Contest at the John Ericsson Jr. High School, Brooklyn has become an annual, much anticipated event. It was held, as is customary, during the Spring Semester of the School and organized by Janice and George Weinmann, assisted by Mary Nordlund, teachers and volunteer contest judges. Commissioner Brian Andersson represented New York City at the event.
During the Centennial Year there were special events:
· John Ericsson Memorial Celebration, Washington DC. June 2, 2007. Vice President Ruth Bird organized a visit by JESNY members to the new House of Sweden of the Swedish embassy and a wreath placement ceremony at the John Ericsson Memorial in Washington DC. A pleasant surprise was the participation of Marcia Seifert, descendant of Samuel W. Taylor, John Eriksson’s Secretary for more than thirty years. She has become a JESNY member.
· JESNY participated in an historic event, May 8, 2007. JESNY welcomed the Transatlantic 21 Association’s ship sun21 at North Cove Marina, NYC. Sun21 is the first ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean on solar power alone, a voyage from Spain to New York. JESNY was invited to participate in the Welcome and various celebrations because of the relevance of John Eriksson’s 19th century work to this 21st century event. JESNY created a special brochure for the occasion and presented a Swedish ship’s flag to the crew. The Society received much publicity through its participation in the event, e.g. in Nordstjernan. During the festivities, the Canadian inventor of the LOON, a solar-assisted boat for recreational travel on inland waterways, introduced himself and kept JESNY informed during its first trip in New York State waterways in August 2007.
To gather information and take photographs for the Website I have visited The Monitor Center in Newport News, VA. several times, the Swedish Museum in Philadelphia, the Ryder-Ericsson factory in Walden, NY., the Inventors Hall of Fame, Akron, Ohio and numerous libraries, collections, museums, monuments and so on in USA and Sweden. JESNY maintains contact with related organizations in USA and other countries (in addition to regular mailings to JESNY members). The network expands with the assistance of Web and e-mail.
See the Website, Virtual Library and Newsletters for details.
During the Centennial Year the Society received gifts of documents and books from members and non-members, USA and abroad: Spanton Ashdown, Julius Eingoren, Kjell Lagerstrom, Bertil Lindberg, Lars Nielsen, Ben Nordhielm, Kevin Woodruff, William “Bill” Sewing and others too numerous to list. So closed the year 2007.
And the Second Century of the Society has had an auspicious opening: Olle Wästberg, Director-General, The Swedish Institute, Stockholm - former Consul General in New York - sent greetings and contributed a book “Swedish Genius” (“Svenska Uppfinnare”) by Petter Karlsson and Johan Erseus; Kjell-Åke Dahlberg, President, John Ericsson Sällskapet, Sweden sent greetings; The Stockholm Association of the “Royal Jämtland Ranger Regiment” (Föreningen Fältjägare i Stockholm), the regiment in which Captain John Ericsson, Kjell Lagerstrom and I did military service, sent best wishes and expressed interest in continuing contact; The author and the illustrator of a book included in the Literature Roundtable wrote expressing interest in continued contact.
At the Annual Meeting of June 5, 2006 I distributed a proposal for an Action Plan for the continued growth of JESNY with the suggestion that it be discussed and developed by the members at a later date. Following the meeting I sent to all members a letter highlighting the Centennial Anniversary together with a copy of Minutes of Meeting, annual report of the previous year, and a summary of the Action Plan proposal. I continued the practice of sending frequent reports and newsletters by post to all members and by e-mail to those with e-mail address on record. Today, at the beginning of the Second Century of JESNY, let us return to the Action Plan and begin program planning: Looking Forward.
Before we begin planning, however, let us pause to acknowledge the participation of friends and partners:
· First, let us thank our host of many years, The Church of Sweden, New York and its Pastor, our Chaplain, the Reverend Ib Pihlblad for gracious support and cooperation.
· Then, let us remember well wishers and partners everywhere for their participation.
· Finally, JESNY is a not-for-profit organization whose members, all volunteers, organize its programs and manage its business affairs – so let us, the members, thank each other and ourselves for our contributions and collective effort toward the objective of honoring and perpetuating the memory of Captain John Ericsson.
/Leif G. Brisfjord
President, John Ericsson Society, New York