Tómas Magnússon and his wife Tanya Pollock saw an area calling for help one day when walking their child through the Hjartatorgið park. “I brought my kid over there and I was upset that I couldn’t take him out of the stroller because it was full of glass, needles, and other stuff,” Tómas said. Hjartatorgið was meant to be a friendly park for adults to spend summer days and for children to play, but it had grown to be neglected by citizens of Reykjavík due to the lack of care and upkeep given to the area.
From this sadness, an idea was born to clean up the park of its dangers. The couple created a Facebook group and started posting events, asking any-one who wanted to help restore the park to come out and lend a hand. The first clean up was scheduled for July 20. After that, the project kept growing with more and more volunteers until the area was cleaned up enough for children to play there safely.
But the couple doesn’t plan on stopping there. “We want to have a playground,” Tanya said. “As soon as people see that it’s a child friendly area, they tend to respect the area more. We want to build our own benches; people are more likely to respect something that’s personal. And hopefully we can take one of the empty houses around it and make it some sort of activity centre.”
But, there’s a question of funding to get these things done. Due to the fact that the park is privately owned, government funding is not readily available. Tanya made this concern clear. “We aren’t paid to do this,” she said. “We’re just volunteering, and we have jobs and bills to pay, so we can’t do this every day.” Still, she hopes that their continued work on the project will inspire the government and other people to help them.