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Tuesday, July 21

An End is A Start

Early into our stay in Iceland, we went to a lecture by Christopher Patrick Peterka called "The End is the Start". I was so inspired by this lecture that my pen wouldn't even write as fast as the great quotes were coming. Peterka is not Icelandic but he has a huge interest in helping Icelanders feel empowered by the crisis rather than dampened. And from what we have seen and heard from the Icelanders we met, they are not going to be steam rolled by the economic hardships.

He called Iceland "The new Global Think Tank". Iceland not only produces incredible artists but it also has made leaps in the field of technology and networking communities. We went to the Ministry of Ideas (which is a building dedicated to housing cubicles of brilliant groups and nurturing their ideas to fruition. HOW INCREDIBLE!!!Mission statement ;
Ministry of Ideas is the people's movement in Iceland. It inspires the country and the rest of the of the global village for a new world model.-

Peterka did say one thing that stayed with me without even looking at my notes; he said "change cannot happen without mobility, to move forward you must be willing to leave behind everything you were attached to."( I took this to mean the surge of cars, second homes, and fancy toys bought in the boom -previous to the collapse).

After the lecture was over we were all instructed to reach under our seats and pull out the first thing we were going to do to participate in positive change. I was concerned about old gum or other foreign stickyness but to my happy surprise I found a glow stick. The old raver in me felt like it was party time but my patience let me see that it was all part of a message on the wall. We snapped our glow sticks as the entire room of people (including members of Sigur Ros) with their illuminated plastic tubes jumped up and made these words peacefully and powerfully exist. I love how this entire crisis is being interpreted by Icelandic "creatives". It seems to have lit a fire under their creative tushes and I am honestly in absolute awe in what has developed in this short amount of time to combat what has devastated their economy.

So it's late as I write this, very late. . . just as magical as I find this nation and its people to be- we are going to see some equally imaginative and magical things in the next year come out of Iceland. Stay tuned.

To read more on the "And End is a Start" lecture visit our friends at Iceland Review

Friday, July 17

Hidden People

Iceland is "known" for a number of things that are whimsically ethereal;

Sigur Ros: Bjork:
Hákarl: Rotten Shark Meat

And Trolls- When I asked about the tale of trolls I was told "They are called Hidden People". There are dozens of articles, podcasts, books, and films about the belief of the hidden people in the mysteriously beautiful landscapes of Iceland. "I think it's something we feed to tourists" - one man said when asked at our hotel. So that night I went out by myself to the dock. It was 1AM but was as bright as the late afternoon. I am not going in with any preconceived notions of fantasy esc. creatures going on this trip. And given the amount of attention the world wide press gives to it, I am just turned off all together from asking more than a small handful of people if they "believe" (on a side note, no one said no).
Back to the dock: I was taking a time lapse and i kept hearing someone running up to me. You know that scuffing sound your feet make when they are on the cement? So I would look up quickly and pretty freaking scared. Nothing. This happened well over a dozen times and I even pretended to keep taking pictures to see if I could catch what ever the noise was. The thought came to me "oh my god, the hotel manager said this was the town where the hidden people live, they are pissed I am up so late." So I ran back to my hotel like a goat on fire.
So all to say, I am not sure if there are Hidden People in Iceland but I can tell you. They don't give a care if I believe or not.

Good Night.

Iceland Votes Yes To EU

Today Iceland's Parliament voted in favor for Iceland's application to join the European Union.
During our time in Iceland we interviewed a number of people ranging from artists, government officials, think tank go-getters, to students of economics; all feeling differently about the upcoming vote concerning Iceland joining the EU.

I found this graph to be a helpful breakdown of the varying interests with in the political parties:
Political parties' stances towards membership
Group Party Position Main argument as stated on party websites
Social Democratic Alliance
Yes "We want to apply for an EU-membership and start negotiations. We will seek a national unity in this matter and use the national referendum as the highest court."[35]

Left-Green Movement
No "EU-membership would diminish the independence of Iceland even more than the EEA Agreement does and jeopardise Iceland's control over its resources."[36]
Opposition Independence Party No "The Independence Party holds that Iceland’s interests are best secured by remaining outside of the EU while conducting a close healthy relationship with it based on the contract for the European Economic Area, which opens up the internal market of the EU. A complete membership would threaten to take control over Iceland’s biggest national resources, such as the fisheries."[37]
Progressive Party Yes "..if personal and business rights were protected, especially in regard to fishing and agriculture; and if the accession talks were open and democratic."[38]
Citizens' Movement Yes [39]
No seats in the parliament Liberal Party No EU stance was decided in a party members' poll in January 2009.[40]

This is all part of our research- We will be going back to Iceland in 6-8 months to re-examine and document the changes that occur within decisions like joining the EU.
While interviewing the editor of a number of successful Icelandic publications, Benedikt Jóhannesson; he said, it is hard to say right now how the crisis has effected the general public. Changes like these take a bit of time to be implemented and their effects can take months to really be seen.

So we (Wilma's Wish) are going to bookend what we saw, heard, found on our last trip with what happens to Iceland after this massive collapse a year later. How fascinating to see what will be a historic moment not only for Iceland but also for the world.

Sunday, July 5

On The First Day ...

On the first day we arrived smack dab in the middle of National Day! It ironically was the last day of the Viking Festival as well but we will get back to that...

Zoom- our plane arrives
Beep- we are rushed to the hotel

Oops- we went to the wrong hotel and wrong city
Ahhh- arrive at hotel
Huh- vikings with swords running in front ya rd
Hello, hello- meeting, greeting hotel manager
Oh no- We are not in the city we need to be and Johanna (Prime Minister and the reason we rushed to get here on th is day is speaking in one hour!!)
BEEP- cabby please take us to the city center as fast as you can (and yes you can give vague directions like that in Iceland b/c most everyone knows everywhere)
Look!- Right as the cab pulls up we leap out, a para de of scouts start the event off, formal elegant members of society follow.
Not Allowed In- Where do we stand? You must have a press pass! Well we do but we left it ummm... somewhere? Please let us in. Hmmmmm...... ok
Steve there She is- It seems like it takes forever for Johanna to emerge from the beautiful church to her podeum. She stands up straight and walks with confidence. The speech was in Icelandic (understandably) certain things transended language and the crowds roars made me feel we got here for something very important (a celebration of boyancy).
Stay tuned for the what happened next....