Most Awesome Letter of the Issue
In may 2013 my partner and I traveled around Iceland. I am mildly obsessive about litter collecting, especially in beautiful and unspoilt areas of natural beauty. I have collected litter throughout the Islands and Highlands of Scotland (my home country) as well as the Canary Islands, Mainland Spain, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Italy. Attached is a montage of me collecting Litter in Iceland in may 2013. During our stay I we had a lovely meal at Barinn restaurant courtesy of Grapevine. Thank you again and Keep Iceland beautiful.
Dearest Litter Picker-Upper,
We at the Grapevine are grateful for your litter-collecting obsession and love your Picking Up Litter in Beautiful Places photo series. It seems like you have beautified a number of places around the world, and I think we can all agree that the world needs more travelers like you. One question, though: Do you throw out the litter you collect, or do you actually keep it a la Jonathan in ‘Everything Is Illuminated’?
Keep keeping places beautiful!
Firstly, congratulations on being such an awesome magazine! My wife and I just returned from honeymooning in Iceland where we had an amazing time. Sitting in 12 Tónar reading a copy of Grapevine on our first day made me feel like an instant local.
I was especially interested to read the political pieces on Jón Gnarr and the guide to the municipal elections. I was struck by how accessible and immediate politics in Reykjavik is – or at least seems to be. It’s amazing to me that of the eight parties running for office, six were formed after 1999. It gives the impression of political entrepreneurship; if you don’t like any of the parties asking for your vote, start your own! This appeals to me a lot.
It subsequently came as a bit of a surprise to learn that this vibrant political climate doesn’t appear to be translating into greater engagement with voters – as reported by yourselves turnout was a record low on May 31st. This downward trend is not unique to Iceland, but to an outsider it seems a particular shame given that a) Reykjavik is brilliant and b) in such a small election (in terms of number of registered voters), your vote gives you proportionally a pretty big say in the final result.
So what’s the point of my letter? I guess I’m saying that I think you live in a great country, and an awesome city, and that the future of both of these is tangibly yours to decide. (I hope this doesn’t come across as condescending, it’s not meant to be!) I live in London, where the last mayoral elections in 2012 saw turnout of a pathetic 38%, equating to around 2,100,000 total votes. In the face of numbers like this it’s hard not to feel a bit powerless, depressed and embarrassed, made worse by the winner being a right-wing buffoon. But thinking like that doesn’t change anything. So next time the elections come around, if you don’t feel like there’s any point in voting, I would urge you to think again. You can still participate even if you don’t like any of the candidates or parties by submitting a blank vote; these are counted (in both London and Reykjavik elections.) Or you could start your own party. Whatever you do, don’t do nothing! Iceland needs you!
Hoping to be back soon,
Thanks a bunch for the thoughtful letter on our recent elections and Icelandic politics in general. We at the Grapevine also appreciate our political openness and accessibility that, theoretically, gives us an opportunity to not be held down by antiquated political systems. To the Icelanders reading this, heed Owen’s advice and be sure to vote next time!