Published August 10, 2012
Last Wednesday was a sad, sad day in Iceland. Our esteemed handball team lost to Hungary in the quarterfinals during second overtime. This required us to rewrite four articles in this issue as we rushed to print, which just goes to show how excited and confident people were about taking home Iceland’s fifth ever Olympic medal. Alas it didn’t pan out.
I’ll admit that I wasn’t nearly as upset as my fellow countrymen were when it was over, but then I grew up in Southern California where handball was just something that you played in elementary school—a playground game that involved bouncing a ball against wall, with moves called “babies” and “waterfalls.”
At least we’re good at something though, and at least that something is a bit cooler sounding than trampoline, which became an Olympic sport in 2000. Just imagine if we were all rallying behind Iceland’s trampoline stars, and if the president had told TIME magazine last week that our country had bounced back from the financial crisis and that the art of trampoline had something to do with it.
People are always eager to ask about the Icelandic economy when I go back to the States and I’m never really sure what to tell them. Of course there are all kinds of numbers to cite—unemployment, inflation, GDP, etc.—but since I moved here in 2009, changes in these numbers have never really translated to changes in day-to-day life for me. It’s easy to overlook things that don’t directly impact our lives. Most of us, for instance, probably don’t think about the fact that there are many people who can’t play handball or trampoline—let alone walk—and they at least deserve to live in a city that is accessible to them. As the country rebuilds, its citizens must think about this.
As Cory Weinberg and Byron Wilkes point out in this issue’s feature “You Can’t Always Go Downtown,” Reykjavík isn’t exactly the most accessible of cities. Ponder this: were an alien anthropologist to visit us, he or she would probably deduce, based on the signs on bathroom doors and parking spaces, that we are a population consisting of three types: men, women and the wheelchair-bound—the latter being genderless.
For that segment of our population, it will be a fine, fine day when, for instance, wheelchair accessible bathrooms aren’t located at the top of a long flight of stairs and soap dispensers aren’t placed out of reach.