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A Trip to an Eco-Village

A Trip to an Eco-Village

Published May 31, 2007

An hour’s drive to the East of Reykjavík is the community of Sólheimar with around fifty houses, home to roughly one hundred persons. Sólheimar is the first intentional community in Iceland and the first Icelandic community to be a member of the Global Eco-Village Network. It was also the first place in the Nordic countries to cultivate food bio-dynamically.

A young woman, Sesselja, who had a vision to treat handicapped people in better ways than cattle, founded the community in 1930. Drawing from Rudolf’s Steiner ideas and her own on how a human society should function, she started organic growing, allowed mentally handicapped children (or idiots as they were then called) to associate with “normal children”, and in the process upset a great number of people. Today the community is fairly accepted, although some minor disputes seem to flare up every now and again, mostly evolving around the spending of money, as always seems to be the case about disputes.

In the community there are a few local run workplaces, a candle factory, organic nursery, arts and crafts store, coffeehouse and a small hotel. Handicapped or not, both work side by side in these workplaces, which are open to the public in the summertime. Sólheimar has a well thought out environmental policy under the motto: “We did not inherit the earth from our ancestors – we borrowed it from our children.” One of the goals the Sólheimar community strives to achieve is to create a self-sustained society, relying on organic production and harmony between humans and nature. In 2002 a completely self sustained house was built at Sólheimar, Sesseljuhús, which houses an educational environmental center, with the house itself being the biggest part – a blueprint of sorts for buildings that are built without having a negative impact on the environment.

A visit to Sólheimar is a highly recommended affair. It is a unique place and one that gives a hint of a different future than ever expanding, smog filled, detached cities. Check it out. www.solheimar.is, www.sesseljuhus.is



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So What’s This I Keep Hearing About Everything Being Terrible in Iceland?

So What’s This I Keep Hearing About Everything Being Terrible in Iceland?

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In Mid-November Unnar Steinn Sigtryggsson, an Icelander who goes by the username “askur,” made a comment on popular internet community Reddit. He recounted the major news events of the last few weeks in Iceland. However, unlike most bullet point lists of Icelandic news stories, this one went viral. Has the news in Iceland been unusually full of kittens licking baby turtles? More like political scandals, strikes, vermin infestations, protests, police behaving badly, and economic mismanagement. To an audience used to hearing stories about how wonderfully Iceland had dealt with the 2008 financial crisis, this was indeed newsworthy. Hold on a

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Dirty Holidaze

Dirty Holidaze

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December is by far the darkest and spookiest month. It is also the booziest, by far. The overwhelming joy one often associates with the annual Christmas frenzy increases the longing for a nightcap, the fright that correlates with mass expenditures in gifts and other holiday nonsense calls for some alcohol, and when you intend to bid farewell to the passing year you’ll want a bottle of liquor by your side. It seems there’s no avoiding dipping your toes (or your entire foot) into the tantalizing Jacuzzi of holiday vice. For this reason, behold: Grapevine’s guide to your Icelandic holiday binge

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Pagan Christmas

Pagan Christmas

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The idea of throwing a big celebration in honour of the birth of Christ is a relatively recent idea. Nobody knows exactly when he was born; guesses range from 7 to 2 BC and the date is a mystery. His date of birth was once estimated to be January 6, in an attempt to beat a competing holiday (the celebration of the virgin birth of Aion, the Hellenistic deity of eternity). In the process they borrowed the symbolism of the stables. Christianity is in the business of mergers and acquisitions. The date was later changed to December 25, partly because

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The Encyclopaedia of Icelandic Holidays

The Encyclopaedia of Icelandic Holidays

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Aðfangadagur (Ath-founga-dager) December 24, Aðfangadagur, is the day Icelanders celebrate Christmas (as opposed to December 25 in most countries). The first half of the day usually goes towards finishing off all of the last-minute preparations, making food, wrapping presents, bathing and putting on nice clothes. Children are often occupied by the television set, as most stations broadcast a non-stop programme of cartoons throughout the day. Six o’ clock marks the official start of Christmas in Iceland, marked by state radio broadcasting the traditional “ringing of the church bells.” This is when most households sit down to enjoy a pleasant holiday

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WAR ON CHRISTMAS: Finally, An Icelandic Front

WAR ON CHRISTMAS: Finally, An Icelandic Front

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Anyone who’s followed American politics, or switched to Fox News over the holidays, knows that a full blown war is raging at this very moment: The War On Christmas. On the battlefield, the godless forces of Politically Correct liberals—who want to take Christ out of Christmas and thus destroy the very fabric of American culture—fight the patriotic and pious people over at Fox. Of course nobody residing the reality-based community has ever encountered this “War on Christmas.” It exists only in the fevered imagination of loudmouths like Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh, who use it to fill airtime, drum up

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Wanted: The Icelandic Christmas Mood

Wanted: The Icelandic Christmas Mood

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When they stop stacking the Rjómi (heavy cream) neatly on the supermarket shelves, you know Christmas is just around the corner. The Rjómi hasn’t disappeared though. Entering the walk-in cooler (don’t forget your jacket!) you’ll see a huge container spilling over with cartons and cartons of Rjómi. Frankly, stacking it is a waste of time; soon you’ll notice the mountain getting smaller as every single person takes at least one, maybe two or maybe five. Our consumer needs are this predictable before, during and after Christmas, because almost every single Icelandic household has the exact same family traditions. This uniformity

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