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Monday, June 13

The World is Watching

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 DavĂ­d 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.

The Guardian

USA Today 
Time Magazine

More soon...