That was my first words when I saw a picture on the wall at the nurses office in my new home country Norway. I was expecting that the answer would be some exotic islands in the Caribbean, but to my amazement she said — Norway.

I remember it being some place in the Northern Norway called Træna. That day I made a promise to myself to travel there.

Years went. There was always something. Money, time, life. I had to learn how to dare to follow my dreams. Than I followed dreams of going to New York and Paris. 15 years went, and I finally packed my backpack and left for Træna in July 2017.

Træna is an island couple of hours outside of the mainland and the city Bodø. The intricate web of local ferrys will take you there, almost no matter what is the weather, sun, storm or snow. However, I decided to travel with a sailboat and explore the whole coastline with 40 others complete strangers. The trip was organized by SailNorway, and on a Thursday morning seven of our boats arrived at Træna after a week of sailing.

I remember how we got closer and closer to the islands of Træna. First we just got a peek and some green lines at the horizone, than as we got closer the island unveiled itself. On the left side we saw a majestic mountain raging over on the left side. I swear, I am not a fan of Game of Thrones, but it is like someone pushed a button in my head and all I could hear was the main theme from the TV-show. That must how the vikings felt, if they had ever traveled in this area. Lucky bastards.

On the right side I discovered in the distance another majestic top with some flat area. It was filled with tents because in just a few hours the Trænafestival would open doors for travellers from the whole Norway and world.

Photo by Mats Grimsæth/SeilNorge

During the next week my time would be filled with laughter, music, midnight sun. After the festival ended and the area became slowly abondoned, the stage was no longer a stage, but just a green area and volunteers picked every garbage bit they could find.

I took long walks on the island exploring every part in complete solitude since there are only 457 people living here, and many of them had gone for summer vacation somewhere warmer. My only companion was the audiobook of Nike-founder, his travel stories in the post-second world war in Asia, his complicated relationship with this father, love for his wife, what he was building and crazy obstacles he met as an entrepreneur.

One of the reasons I stayed on the island longer was because I was kindly provided a house with a view to this majestic top. Every evening me and my room mate Hanna would lounge in our chairs and admire this mountain, how the evening light caressed every rocky path carved by wind for thousands and thousands of years. Than we would finally pop out in our wool socks with our phones and take pictures of the sunset, different every time, no matter sun or rain.

At some point we just stopped, held our breath and watched how the sun almost went down and got out again. On the seventh day, it was killing us. It was like, another beautiful sunset, again, I am not sure if I can take it any more, yet we stood there again in silence, smiling like fools. I did not watch Netflix once.

This house we stayed in is usually rented out to artists and entrepreneurs who stay at Træna as part of Artist in Residence and Business in Residence. They are searching applicants and the deadline is on 22th of October.

I dare you to apply. You will have a place to stay, connect with the inhabitants on this island and have a once in a lifetime experience.

Meet the artist in residence

Hilde Sofie Olaisen and Osram Lightning Solutions joined the AiR program to work on a project on urban lighting. The scope is to research how lighting of public spaces and sensor technology affects and transforms the community at Træna. Although Osram is a private company, this aim of this project is non-profit.

“At Træna we want to test different light installations and make users aware of the concept of urban lighting and its effect on their surroundings.”

Olaisen explains that it was not a coincidence that she wanted to pilot this project at Træna.

“Træna is a unique area in the North where the light pollution is almost minimal. Træna is also very close to the polar circle, so there is very little natural light during the winter. It gave us a great opportunity to try out our concepts, and see what effect it would have on the island and their community.”

Olaisen cares a lot about a good dialogue between all parties involved in a project; light designers, architects, consultants and end users. She applied this approach in her previous projects, and decide to do the same at Træna.

“We have met with and talked to the locals to come up with suggestions for lighting schemes and locations. The final solutions that are to be installed this autumn was chosen at a workshops by the inhabitants on Træna. After installation we will collect feedback and make adjustments accordingly.”

The kick off for the project was in July 2017 with a light installation in the long tunnel on the nearby island Sanna during the Trænafestival. The festival visitors and participants of the Thriathlon Træna 2017 were welcomed by this installation during their trip on the island Sanna.

This fall the project partner Sinus AS is mounting five lighting installations in the urban area. The places are façade lighting of a chapel, area lighting on the children’s playground, effect lighting of the church and central gardens, and stretch of street light with intelligent controls.

“We have set the end date for the project in February when we will evaluate and present the results at the Winter festival.”

You can follow her project here. If you want to attend the Winterfestival — here is the FB-event and more info on the last years festival.

Light installations by Hilde from Osram. Photo: Træna

Meet the creator of the Artist/Business/Chef in Residence program

Moa Björnson is Head of Development, municipality of Træna. She works on a holistic way of developing the island community combining industry, culture, tourism and local natural and human resources. She worked on a similiar project in her home country Sweden, Malmö.

The Artist/Business/Chef in Resident started partly because the municipality needed to broaden their efforts in culture and business, and they had a couple of empty houses on the island.

“We wanted to invite creative people to the island, skilled in art, design, architecture, writing, building or entrepreneurship.”

They did a test program and got over 100 applications in the first year, everything from anthropologists, designers, photographers and etc. Several of them visited the island during the 2015–2017. Some of the residents worked on their own projects for a short period. There were a couple of people who loved the island so much, that they moved there permanently. The third group contributed to the community by building new structures, urban lightning installations and started new businesses.

“We are not only focusing on art and design, that’s why our programs name is also Business in Residence and Chef in Residence. That way we attract a broader audience, and it results in unique and unusual projects and new constellations.”

“We welcome diversity of skills and life experiences at Træna, you can be an investor from the hotel industry, a radio journalist, afood writer or an IT-developer or something else. As long as you have an open mind, are creative, have a strong drive and ability start and execute projects, you should apply.”

You can read about previous projects and apply here.