Monday, May 20
Such wonderful news! Wanna see Blueberry Soup on the big screen? We will be screening the film at the North West Film Forum this fall 2013 in Seattle! In other good news we have put the film up on Vimeo on Demand to rent right from the comfort of your own home. Check it out: www.blueberrysoupfilm.com
Saturday, October 20
Timing... sometimes it so easily seems like we are 5 steps behind but just sometimes... just sometimes we are exactly where we are suppose to be at exactly the right time. I finished editing the film exactly 14 days before the national referendum was to take place in Iceland. This vote will determine what the Icelandic public has to say about the new constitution. After this, the results will be brought to Parliament and there they will make the final decision. Will this become the official constitution of Iceland? All of the work, research, time, innovation, and inspiration put into this process, will that result in a document that represents the future of the nation?
The day after I finished editing the film I contacted one of the members of the constitution. Once he saw the film he quickly showed interest in using the film to encourage voter turnout for the October 20th election. We had a very small window of time to organize. A group composed of people from Iceland who believed very strongly in getting the word out about the upcoming vote worked extremely hard over the next 2 weeks to try and figure out how we could get this film out to the maximum amount of people from all over the country. Finally we decided that the best way would be to go back to the root of how not only this film was made but also how the constitution was made... social media. On October 19th for 24 hours we screened the film online.
I woke up to a frenzy of emails, notifications, and over 500 views of the film.
This was the first time anyone outside of my immediate circle had seen the film, as you can imagine it was a nail biting kind of day.
Since only 24 hours ago we have been invited to screen the film in
Greece, France, Canada, Iceland, and the United States.
I am writing this entry on the morning of the election in Iceland and I am hoping upon hope that it turns out for the best. But regardless of the result, I would like to pay homage to the process itself.
Let's review: 500 people ran for 25 seats in the council, those 25 were made up of an eclectic array of members within the society, then the newly elected council created an online draft for citizens to voice comments and suggestions throughout the process, during the sessions the council used Facebook and Twitter to update the public, once finished a national referendum was held for the entire nation to vote on the constitution, and only in the end is this brought to the parliament (still to come).
I have learned a great deal over the past four years as I have observed this historical event evolve.
So much can be accomplished with just cooperation and trust and one brave leap of faith in a new direction will manifest even more courageous decisions, making each easier than the last. One of our contributors Jonas Antonsson pointed out that all the structures that are failing us now are creations; the house we live in, the monetary system, the government were all ideas at one point. So by that understanding these ideas are revisable, right? However the election turns out today this process has paved a path for future acts of creative change and participatory democracy.
Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir is the editor for the Icelandic publication Iceland Review and one of the main contributors to Blueberry Soup, yesterday she wrote a great article on her thoughts on the constitutional reform and today's referendum. Check it out here: When Tomorrow Comes
To organize a screening of Blueberry Soup in your city, send us a message. Otherwise keep visiting us on Facebook and our website for upcoming screenings.
Sunday, February 5
To me, Blueberry Soup is a documentary that hits close to home. I have traveled to Iceland for over 15 years. I´ve seen the rise and fall of the economy in a very short period of time. Every single person living in Iceland was blindsided by the financial crash of 2008. The rippling affect instigated riots, triggered suicides and spiked the unemployment rate from 1.6% to over 8% in the span of a ye......ar and all of my Icelandic friends have a story.
When I first heard about Blueberry Soup - a documentary about the financial collapse in Iceland, I became immediately interested. I learned that the documentary was not just about the economic story but more specifically the personal stories shared by the local people. Without hesitation I made a financial contribution to the film. More than anything, I want the people of Iceland to be heard. Not the opinions of the government, not the media and not the rest of the world, just the people of Iceland.
-Karen Helena Wallington(Co-Producer of Blueberry Soup)
We head to the bus terminal at an intersection that I had long ago memorized. There was a bit of a wait time, and we decided to get some candy. Normal candy choices for me would be fuzzy peaches, all sweet. Eileen spies some dark purple stars and purchases about 2o of them. She passes the bag around to all three of us. Steve sniffs it, I bite into it, and Eileen pops it into my mouth. Steve watched as my jaw looked confused, and Eileen looked offended and let the candy drop from her mouth. These stars were VERY salty. I laugh, even now, hearing Eileen say, “I’m going to give these to someone who hates life.”
-Bria Cole (Producer of Blueberry Soup)
Sunday, January 22
Did you know that when you watch a documentary you are only seeing a small fraction of the process that went into making that film? The fact is there are dozens of incredible stories that are left on the "cutting room floor". Starting in February we will be releasing stories from our amazing three year adventure from conception to post production.
Friday, July 29
Today the Constitutional Assembly handed in the much anticipated brand-new constitution!
In October 2008 Iceland's economy went belly up. A small collective of people became very rich as the nation was clothes-lined with an unimaginable debt.
After the collapse (called the "kreppa") imaginative, innovative, pissed off Icelanders got together and discussed what they wanted to see change. One of the main items on that list was to re-write the constitution.
There was never really a purely Icelandic constitution prior to today. Up to this point Iceland's constitution was a borrowed copy from the Danes (they have been independent since the 40's).
Here is a brief rundown of what's happened that's making this day so incredibly important.
Click for Illustrated Diagram
So to push democracy to a new level the assembly put the drafts online, opened up the issues for discussion through facebook and twitter, and directly incorporated the public's opinions in the final decisions.
Is the end result the most important focus here? I wonder if we can learn a great deal from the process itself? An entire nation was welcomed to directly participate in the re-writing of their constitution from the comfort of their own homes. Do we have to be so distant from the decisions being made on our behalf? Could we approach our future with tenacity and innovation over anger and exhaustion?
I invite you on this very special day to think of five things you would like to participate in, within your own community, nation, social circle.
My birthday is next week and I enter into 30 with an un-yielding sense of responsibility. I have been gifted with the opportunity to see a constitution drafted, to speak to its authors, and to have followed a three year bread trail through the changes in a nations society following one of histories largest economic downfalls.
Happy Birthday to you Icelandic Constitution.
Blueberry Soup is the documentary following the 3 year long aftermath of the economic crisis in Iceland. The film is in post-production now, as we sew together the dozens of interviews, epic imagery, and exciting moments please stay tuned for updates, photos, and videos.
Monday, June 13
Three days ago an article came out in the Guardian that lit a fuse under the international media's bum. The news that Iceland is re-writing their constitution is now officially in the eyes of the global community!! It came about in an non-traditional way. Instead of big media telling the people what's newsworthy, social networking turned the mainstream media onto the importance of Iceland re-writing their constitution.
This is a historic event and ironically not nearly represented in the Icelandic media as much as one might imagine. I was told that this is because one of the major publications in Iceland ( Morgunbladid) has an editor that is also the former prime minister and central bank governor Davíd Oddsson. There was a joint statement submitted by the journalists association of Denmark, Sweden, and Finland addressing their concern stating " Iceland's media must have the professional ability to cover the collapse of the Icelandic economy and have complete freedom of expression." Oddsson is one of the main individuals under investigation for the Icelandic economic collapse. Iceland's constitutional assembly is the antithesis to the small crew that was running the country before. The new constitutional process focuses on transparency and accessibility to all citizens. That certainly is not in the interest of the small few that ran Iceland's finances into the ground in 2008. So this directly ties into how much attention the constitutional assembly receives. The media holds so much power and if there is no press given to the Constitution then the constitution actually disappears in the eyes of the public. But my dear friends this is where things take an incredible turn. Knowing that they couldn't rely on mainstream media to relay the necessary information to the country, the assembly went viral.
This is the first time we are seeing a constitution being drafted on the internet. Yes, there is a lot more to it than just facebook feedback BUT it's also a major component to what goes into this document. And it's changing how democratic discussions occur.
On the constitutional assembly's facebook page there have been hoards of supportive comments from around the world. Here are just a few of the comments people have posted over the past three days;
"I ordered your flag to fly at my home in the US. "- Chris (USA)
Cheers from Finland!- Susannah
"You are like a lighthouse beaming hope across the world. Congratulations, you got it right!" - Eddie (Egypt)
"be proud of your participative democracy, icelanders!"- Pierre (Makati)
"What a genius and bold move Iceland. I doth my cap. Digital democracy - amazing".- Nick (United Kingdom)
"You guys started something very important there. I'm excited to follow its evolution. I really think societies and governments (its funny to mention them separately, shouldn't be, and it is one of the points you are changing for better) in any country can't keep the same after this. In fact, more than congratulations i should say "thanks"."- Michele (Mexico)
It actually breaks my heart a bit to see how many Americans posted on the FB page. This is exactly why I am making this film. We feel so separated from our government but you can hear in these posts that we are ready to participate in democracy we are just looking for the venue. I think like many of the Icelanders I spoke to, Americans (and it sounds like a lot of other nations) feel depleted by political corruption. I grew up in a political household (my father is a politician) and watching my dad try to work within a system that has so many irrefutable flaws, made me feel like we was swimming up stream. But nothing good can come from concentrating on what is NOT working. I think what we can learn from all of this is that by creating new systems and addressing what IS working we can start to see the kinds of positive change that makes Iceland's situation so remarkable. In this constitutional reform we see innovation, transparency, and the determination to see the needs/wants of a nation heard. I know we as individual nations and a global community can arrive here as well. If it must come from an example, here we have it; an example of democracy and change created away from "the powers that be". With certainty I see that we can use this as an opportunity to transform our own systems.
Here is the last photo I took in Iceland. As you see this is a normal lamp post, traditional in structure and straight forward in its purpose.
Now here is the same structure but altered to be something new and innovative. Its functionality remains the same but it's design helps us see things can be altered and still be effective.
I think it's pretty symbolic that this was one of the last things I saw before I left the country.
If you haven't seen the buzz, here are just a few of the news sources that have caught wind of the Icelandic Constitutional Reform in the past few days.
Monday, May 23
What do you do when there is a Volcanic Eruption?
The talented Toronto musician Ronley Teper came to visit me here in Reykjavik as well as playing two magical shows, she helped me in the various one-man production adventures throughout the city and beyond. As Ronley was about to hop on a plane back to the land of Canada, we learned that there had been a Volcanic Eruption in Grímsvötn in the Vatnajökull Glacier. This is not near the volcano that made international headlines last year (Eyjafjallajökull)
So what do you do when your plans of planes have been put on hold?
We have two wonderful friends (Anna and Gunnie) here we consider family and they come in at the most unexpected moments to show us nooks and crannies that the tourism books keep secret.Anna called to say instead of the airport we are going to see beautiful things and drink lots of coffee.
We all piled into the car and experienced what it's like to take a day trip on a lovely lazy Sunday in Iceland (as a volcano is erupting).
We muscled through the fierce cold winds that threatened to push us off cliffs into the deep pretty blue sea.
Bright blue and orange splotches randomly stain the dirt and the air smells like eggs (sulfur).
We crossed a bridge amongst steaming beds of earth, a warm haze covers you and nothing is visible. Once on the other end you find yourself sopping wet and cold.
Have you ever heard of harðfiskur? It's a very popular fish that Iceland exports and is often eaten as a healthy snack. This fish has been imperative in the Icelandic fishing industry, so much so that they made a museum for the little buggers!
Nearly everyone has someone in their family a generation ago that was involved in the fishing industry. It's much like where I am from (Central New York) with farming, everyone was involved (within my grandparents generation) in the process somehow, it was a major industry for our area.
You can see the fish drying structures like this near many of the shores.
So this is what happens in disaster... we go on. And it will be much like the days before, maybe even
What if I never see this pile of bright green moss again?
What if you never see this pile of bright green moss... ever?
Today is day two of the Volcanic Eruption and it's made its way to Reykjavik. The warnings say do not go outside because the airs pollution is 4x the legal limit. I ran to the grocery store near by and my eyes are itchy and my skin feels like I have rolled around in Pink Panther insulation.
Tonight is one of the darkest nights I have seen here since the trip began. The ash has reached the city and the wind is violently blowing it all over. A mountain that I can always see from my window is absent from our view and three tones of dusty clouds are over the water.
Here is a video of the Eruption happening now.
Friday, May 20
Last week there was an event that passed North Americans without a peep. This event however was epic to European countries. It is called EUROVISION
Eurovision is an annual song contest open to members of the European Broadcast Union. The event is often viewed in a party setting (much like the superbowl). A number of people in Iceland have said to me "You are going to watch Eurovision, right? You must it's a tradition here." Nearly all follow up that with "but you know we think it's cheesy? It's just fun".
So we went to the new massive music center HARPA and watched Eurovision with over a hundred Icelanders. The costumes were glitzy and the songs were pop but somehow I still felt the need to articulate my opinion on each performance. Why should I care? I don't know... but I did. During the tally I was scoffing and clapping right along with everyone else.
The contestants for Iceland had a compelling story that made me really hope that they would win. The man who wrote the song died right after submitting it to Eurovision. His friends then got together to perform it. Although there wasn't a big light show, fancy graphics, or women on unicycles it was sweet and I wanted them to feel validated in lue of their friends absence.
Azerbaijan won. It was a jarring surprise seeing that this was the first time I had even heard of this country. It's surrounded by Iran, Georgia, Armenia, and Russia and has a population of 8,781,100, this is what Google told me.
The tradition of Eurovision is that the country that wins, hosts the event the following year. So next year I bet thousands will be following suit and asking "Dear Mr. Google what/where is Azerbaijan?"
Thursday, May 19
I experienced my very first Constitutional Meeting today~
Maybe you are wondering to yourself "What is it like to go to a constitutional assembly?"
It all starts in an conservative looking building on the outskirts of the city center. I sat there and waited in a room filled with chocolate candies and cookies. I came to the happy conclusion that it's vital to have treats when taking on such important business. An older man dressed in full professional attire bolted into the room with great focus. He walked past one candy dish and then stopped and ran back snatched a handful of candies and ran into the meeting.
The room is kept FREEZING. Is this to keep the elects from getting too cozy and dozing off?
Are the windows open to reinforce that this council is representing the people outside these walls?
I had the lucky seat of sitting directly behind the council members. Even though the backs of heads are normally uninteresting, it is interesting to see what people are doing on their computers. Many are on Facebook and the rest are keeping notes on the meeting.
I was able to see for the first time in person all of these wonderful people I have been in communication with since the election. In my own way it was like seeing celebrities.
The intention of the assembly meetings on Thursdays is to allow each committee to come together and discuss as a group the issues at hand. When I asked a few individuals how everyone is getting along they said "swimmingly, there are no major issues on the table yet to decide on but when there is... that's when the gloves may come off. But it's been an incredible experience because even if we don't always agree we are coming from such different places that it feels like it's genuinely representing the Icelanders across the board.
The entire meeting is open to the public but also broadcasted online. How's that for transparency?!
It's all in Icelandic but it's still interesting to see. Go ahead take a peak CONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY MEETING If you would like to know what is happening you can see the Icelandic transcript below and send it through an online translation, I use this one ONLINE TRANSLATOR
Part of what they are trying to accomplish with this re-write is to come to conclusions on issues that the parliament has not been able to reach.
I met a woman whom has been working day and night with a highly skilled team in preparing the elects for the re-write. She has been collecting the necessary materials so that the assembly can brief themselves on the issues, arming their brains with data, studies, and a cohesive history so that a proper analysis can be made. This is a bit like cramming for the exam of a lifetime.
This was also the first time I entertained the idea that there was an entire fleet of people behind the "curtain" when it came to preparing for the constitution.
At the end of the meetings they close out the session in song.