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